“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.”
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 417 Pages
Source: Christmas Gift
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
...Where do I even begin?
I had such high expectations for this novel and let me tell you, save for a select few, Laini Taylor completely ruined all other authors for me. This book proved to be all that I had hoped for, and so much more!
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an intricate blend of whimsical, fantastical, and darkly intriguing. Taylor's writing is so very skillful; every sentence has a place and every word is carefully executed. Not one piece of this book is wasted. Every single scene serves a purpose and I can honestly say I never once felt the book dragged or became tedious.
At first, I was a bit skeptical of the main characters. Karou sounded too unique and quirky. I mean, she collects teeth for a "wishmonger", lives in Prague, and has blue hair. I've learned to be wary of heroines with these descriptions in YA literature. I also feared Akiva would fall prey to the "Edward Cullen disease"; that is, far too perfect to be realistic. However, as the story progressed, I fell in love with the characters. And not just Karou and Akiva, but the secondary characters, as well. You can tell Laini Taylor put much effort into fleshing out each individual that appeared in this book. I was left with the feeling that I knew these characters; their quirks, flaws, dreams, and fears.
Many stereotypical themes are present here; the unwavering battle between angels and chimaera, "insta"-love (or at least, "insta"-lust), and forbidden love. Usually, these ideas alone are enough to turn me off from a book, but Taylor writes about them in such a way so that it works, and it works beautifully, at that. I really enjoyed the way she portrayed the angels and "demons". She completely tears down the cliche "good versus evil" scenario, and creates an entirely new gray area. Neither side is free from faults, nor washed in sin. It shows that being raised in a certain environment can shroud one in prejudices and fear that they did not know existed. For example, Akiva had been taught his entire life that the Chimaera were "beastly" and something to be executed on sight. However, when he meets Karou, he sees that he is flawed in his assumptions. This book does a fantastic job at discussing stereotyping and prejudices that, though done through a fictional perspective, are even present in our own society today.
The one thing I enjoyed the most is that the writing itself is not sacrificed for the sake of the audience. Laini Taylor treats her readers to the thought-provoking, fast-paced read they deserve. As an English/Education major, I enjoyed this immensely. I actually felt challenged while reading this novel. Which is as refreshing as it is exhilarating in the lackluster genre that has become YA fiction.