Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Diamonds and Teeth

Daughter of Smoke & Bone
By: Laini Taylor
Reported by: Juli Helms

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

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?

-Summary from Goodreads

Be prepared for a fantastical tale unlike any you've ever read. 

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is nothing short of magical. The prose of Laini Taylor flows like a master storyteller--and yet (and yet!) here is my first problem.

I couldn't connect with the characters. This book was told in the way you might hear a story during a bonfire at camp. You are intrigued, you want to know more, but you just don't feel the characters, not like you know them. And that saddened me, because I really wanted to love this book.

The first half of the book was my biggest struggle. At first, Karou's no-nonsense personality enticed me and I hungrily read on... but the plot. While there were cool creatures, interesting histories, there was no stakes. And this was a big problem for me, because I just couldn't care about the characters. She was just a person. Sure, someone with an interesting backstory, but there was nothing that made me want, should care about her.

And then the second half.

The second half of this book is what completely redeemed the first half and the entire book for me. I was just about to give up on the book when Akiva appeared and, oh, that one guy changed the entire book for me. Suddenly there were stakes, suddenly Karou had feelings I could relate to, suddenly the world had a reason and there was mystery and things finally started rolling. 

*SPOILER* (highlight to read)
I had one little bitty problem with the second half, though, however much I loved it. The interspersing history of Madrigal felt like too much. I inferred and predicted most of it by myself, so I had to drag along those backstory parts, too, even though it was interesting. I feel like if the history was condensed/simplified, the book would have ended up as a real winner for me--for the second half would have absolutely allayed the first half.

Overall, I would suggest this book to fans of a fantastic and epic tale of hope, strength, war, and enlightenment. Give it a chance. Don't let it go before you reach that halfway mark. Hope, keep on hoping, because it will get better.

Much better.


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