Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Skinny: Karou is a seventeen year old art student living in Prague. She has a crummy ex-boyfriend, turquoise blue hair, and, oh yeah, her family is a bunch of monsters. Karou’s “father” sends her on around the world on errands, collecting teeth for some unknown reason. Mysterious burnt hand prints begin appearing on doors all over the world, left by winged strangers that no one really seems to see. Akiva, one of the winged strangers, first sees Karou during one of her errands and, after a vicious battle that leaves them both injured, realizes she is more than who she appears to be. But who is Karou? As their love develops Karou’s mysterious and unknown past is slowly unraveling. But at what cost?
BFF?: Karou is not only a kick-butt friend but a friend that can seriously kick butt. Yeah, I wrote that line myself. On the surface she seems strong, self-reliant, but once you scratch a little deeper you realize she’s just a girl, trying to rationalize her life and her past. You’ve got to give the girl major props for being as put-together as she is, especially considering she was raised by creatures that no one believes in. Not to geek out on you, but she reminds me a little of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in her way of development. At the beginning of the book, she starts out a little naive, just going through the motions because that’s what she does. It’s not until later that she really starts to question “why.” Why is she like this, why are things the way they are, etc. It was really interesting. So… overall… BFF? Yeah, I’d say so.
Readability: Gah, this book was so pretty! Taylor paints this universe that both exists and doesn’t exist. Her descriptions of everything were art, from the way she described Prague and the places Karou travels to her descriptions of the unbelievable characters. My only gripe was that it was TOO pretty. There were many times where I found myself lost in it and thought “Wait, what?” and would have to go back and reread some to see what had happened. Taylor also builds this incredible story, weaving intricate details this way and that until you’re so wrapped up in them that you get lost. There were several times when I went OMG! That was in chapter 3! or something like that…
Crush Level: 7
Y’all…. Akiva was hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. I mean, most angel characters are, but he was just scorching. Literally. Haha (that’s probably only funny if you’ve read the book). There was a good amount of sexy times in this book (gasp!) but there was also just this sexiness that exudes from Akiva, everything from the way he acts to the way he moves. Of course, most of the book is sexy, so I’m sure Akiva can’t help but be anything but that.
Okay, who sets their story in Prague? I don’t know much about it, but I don’t really think of romantic backdrop when I think of it. I think more like Cold War Russia when I think of it. Of course, this book just convinced me I’m totally wrong, as did Google. After Googling it though, I see that it’s in the Czech Republic.
Czechoslovakia Czech Republic
When I was in 3rd grade I read a book about (and I’m totally aging myself now) Czechoslovakia and thought it was the coolest country ever. Then in 9th grade I took Geography and learned that it was now two countries: Czech Republic and Slovakia. What the what?! Darn you Eastern Europe! Stop playing musical countries!
Is there anything better than star-crossed love? Whether it exists or not, this book is chock full of it. And it’s so lovely! Not gonna give anything away, but there were times when my heart clenched for our main characters, and I might have cried a bit.
“Don’t put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles–drug or tattoo–and…no inessential penises either.”
“Inessential penises?” Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. “Is there any such thing as an essential one?”
“When an essential one comes along, you’ll know,” [Brimstone] replied.
Commencement Speech: Daughter of Smoke and Bone gets back to the roots of fantasy. Taylor creates a world full of beauty and mystery, weaving in both history and mythology from various aspects of our own world. While serious in nature, there are bits of comedy and humor which help to not only lighten the mood but humanize the story. There were parts that I felt dragged a bit, but mostly because I was so anxious to get on to the next bit. Overall, this was one of the best books I’ve read so far this year and am seriously anxious for the next chapter of it – of course, who isn’t after that shock of a cliff-hanging ending!
Superlatives – Most Likely to Give Lady Gaga Hair Advice