Friday 14 March 2014
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1)
It goes a little like this. Karou is a blue-haired (FINALLY an MC that is NOT platinum blonde or flame-haired and sees herself as "ugly" even though she has platinum blonde or beautiful red hair). No. Karou doesn't dwell on how she thinks she's ugly. She doesn't think she is. She doesn't whine. Even when there is a hot chick around who tries to make her feel ugly. She doesn't just sook about it internally. What does she do? Well she uses magic to give her *spoiler alert* big, bushy eyebrows that grow back instantly if you try to shave them. Ha! Genius! Ahem. So anyway, Karou is ... she doesn't know what she is. She has beasts/monsters for a family who raised her. But now, she lives on her own, and disappears randomly from school, friends, whatever, when she's called on by her father figure to run errands. What are these errands you ask? She travels the world through a magic portal collecting ... teeth. Why? Well you will have to read the book to find out! Anyway, on one of her errands, she meets Akiva, the sexy sexy angel who tries to kill her. But wait. He doesn't succeed. But she lingers on his mind so he follows *stalks* her. And bam! They're in LUUURRRVVEE! Yes, this is another case of insta-love. But it 's all explained quite well, and I guess in this instance, the insta-love passes for me. I don't like it, but I get why it had to happen that way, and it makes sense.
I want to talk about the writing because it was completely unexpected for a YA novel. I'm going to say straight up that I have mixed feelings about this book. I realise that everyone is gushing about it and I am one of the only ones not getting all 'Twi-hard' about it, but I am going to try to decipher my thoughts into words, and hopefully it makes sense.
Laini Taylor has a way with words. That cannot be argued. Her writing is lyrical. Poetic. I love her writing style, and I don't. Doesn't make sense? Well, at first I loved it. I loved the descriptions and the way the writing creates a magical feel. But then, as I went on and I got into the story, I realised the writing was getting in the way of the plot. At times, I just wanted to shout, "get on with it already!" I didn't shout it. But I wanted to. It got a little frustrating when you're in the middle of a really good part and things are about to be revealed, but then you've got paragraphs worth of poetic descriptions that, I felt, just didn't need to be there because they slowed down the story. When I think about it, not a lot actually happened in this book. Lots of things were revealed, all my questions were answered, but Karou didn't actually DO much. I feel like most of the book was filled with flowery paragraphs. In saying that, I did love Taylor's descriptions of Prague and Marakesh. I really felt like I was there. For me, she created the right atmosphere, like she knew what she was talking about. I've never been to either of those cities so even if she got it all wrong I wouldn't know, but it worked for me. I like that Taylor took me to Prague and Marakesh (and some other cities I don't remember lol).
I like her. She's a very different MC to other YA novels. She's not whiny, self-conscious, overly badass, and she's no Mary-Sue either. She carries knives. And she has hamsas on her palms. She can cripple angels with the flash of her palms. And she does. Totally badass. But Taylor doesn't overdo it by constantly reiterating to the reader through every freaking character that the MC comes in contact with that she is oh-so-effing-baddass! No. Karou's badass-ness is totally subtle. Classy. High-five Laini Taylor. No complaints about Karou from me. She's cool. And I like her sense of humour. Not to mention her sense of revenge. Oh dear, her sense of revenge is special. Please read this book. It's cute. Special note to ex showing up in Karou's art class. Another high-five to Laini Taylor. Thank you for the laugh. Now I know what I would do to anyone who got on my wrong side if I had magical abilities.
Meh. Of coures he is oh-so completely drop-dead-gorgeous. What love interest isn't? But I find him a little too broody and the I-hate-myself-oh-so-much but the world-needs-to-pay-for-my-misery crap gets old. Oh, and the stalking. Hmm. I didn't really feel his cause. I don't know. Maybe it's because the book is written in third person and perspective changes a lot, so I never really had the chance to connect. That's the other thing about the writing, Taylor spends so much time describing things that I never really felt like I could connect with anyone but Karou. Even connecting with her was tough. Despite what anyone says, I still feel that Cassandra Clare was one of the few authors who succeeded in third-person format. Anyway, I hope Akiva grows on me in the second book. Though I doubt it because as it turns out, well, you will just have to read the book. The end is ... doesn't do justice for what I think of Akiva.
I forget her best-friend's name. I don't care. She's annoying. Her humour is a little forced. And odd. Very odd.
The ex, whats-his-name. Useless character. Wait, no. He's SO useful because of what Karou does to him. Oh he is worth being in it just for that. Other than being a character simply for Karou to exercise her cute sense of humour on, he's pretty much useless.
Karou's 'family', are half-beasts of all kinds, half-human. Like centaurs. Kinda. Brimstone is her father figure, and he is the one who gets her to collect teeth and pays her with magic. Have you read Khanh the destroyer of dream's reviews on Goodreads? She describes these kind of characters well in her reviews. They are the authority figure in every book (the mother, father, uncle, aunt, whatever), who knows things but shall not tell the MC for whatever reason the important things the MC needs to know so that there can be a sense of mystery. Brimstone is that person. And the other characters, the ones Karou calls family, they all support Brimstone and the whole 'we-know-things-you-need-to-know-but-we-shall-not-tell' thing, fussing about her and discouraging her from questioning Brimstone. Even though she COLLECTS TEETH for him. She just does as she's told, because Brimstone is her family, and she must-not-question because he shall-not-tell.
Although I've criticised a few things, all in all though, it's a great book because the story as it unfolds is actually quite unique and intriguing. What is revealed sets this series up for a great run, and I can't wait to read the next one. I'd give it a five, if it weren't for the poeticly descriptive language that resulted in me skimming through parts of it to get to the point, and also the flashbacks. Oh, the damn flashbacks! They killed me. I get that they needed to be there. But it doesn't mean they weren't annoying as hell. That is another thing that slowed down the story for me. If you can deal with that, then it's a good read.
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