Around the world, black handprints are appearing ondoorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit inthe sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply ofhuman teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young artstudent is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks withmonsters 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 herbright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That isthe question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When one of the strangers–beautiful, hauntedAkiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the resultis blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose rootsdrink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truthabout herself?
Publishedon: September 27, 2011
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
is one ofthose incredibly hyped novels that I read to understand what all the fuss wasabout. I generally don’t go into young adult books expecting much, and this onewas no different. While in some respects Daughterof Smoke and Bone
lives up to its hype, in other respects it misses themark entirely. Regardless, there is enough here that will please most readerswilling to venture into these young adult depths.
Thereare a few things that sets Daughter of Smokeand Bone
apart from the crowd instantly. First, the book is set in Praguerather than a more typical setting like suburbia. Second, Karou is in her upperteens (seventeen, to be exact) and has spent much of her life independent soshe comes across much more adult than most characters in other young adultbooks I’ve come across. Third, Karou is an art student and reading about a morecollege-feeling educational experience rather than high school hallways,lockers and lusty glances across geography classrooms was nothing short ofabsolutely refreshing.
Infact, Taylor does a wonderful job at not just establishing a different feel forher young adult book through those details, but also through her writing. Oneof my main complaints with young adult books is, often times, I feel like theauthor is “dumbing down” their style to reach a younger age group and that justgets on my nerves. Taylor doesn’t do that at all. Her writing is solid,confident, descriptive and flowing and can be read by a teenager as well as anadult without either feeling like they are reading a book that’s been watereddown for the masses.
Thefirst half of Daughter of Smoke and Bone
is fantastic. Taylor mesmerizes readers with her unique setting, interestingprotagonist and unique, imaginative creatures. There are no hunky vampires orhulking werewolves. Instead, Taylor’s chimera match the unique streets ofPrague perfectly. It’s a fresh setting, and her chimera match it perfectly.Furthermore, Karou keeps things revitalized with her adventures collecting teeth allover the world. The plot builds quickly and Taylor’s attention to detail reallymakes this first half shine.
Problemsbegin somewhere toward the second half of the novel. Once Karou is introducedto Akiva and their oh-so-predictable romance begins, Taylor looses much of whatmade her so unique and refreshing in the first half. Akiva is, as you’d expect,too perfect and gorgeous to fully comprehend and he, improbably, is attractedto Karou. Taylor lost me here. Daughterof Smoke and Bone
was focused, unique and refreshing until Akiva enteredthe picture and the book took a sharp left turn and started throwing out youngadult clichés left and right.
Theromance really did it for me. Akiva and Karou are just too cliché. They aregorgeous beyond understanding and can’t fight their overpowering attraction toeach other. The detail that goes into their relationship is too much. It’salmost like every time they glance at each other, universes unfold and theworld is set right and while that’s fine, it makes me feel a little green around the edges. While some readers may enjoy that kind of thing, it’s justso unrealistic and overpowering to an otherwise wonderfully built world andplot that it nearly destroys what the book spent so long building up.Furthermore, this wonderful relationship is doomed from the start (I’m surethat comes as a huge shock to everyone). Once the story of Madrigal enters, thetwists, turns and important information are incredibly predictable. There is noshock value. It’s almost like Taylor spent all her energy on a campy relationshipand let the rest of the book slide.
Thereare issues that go beyond the ill-fated relationship. Characters that werebelievable and enjoyable before loose some of their believability in thissection. For example, Karou tells her best friend about her world, which isfilled with angels and chimera and magic and whatever else and her friendbasically accepts all of this information without so much as batting an eye. Ijust can’t believe that a level headed character would basically accept a storylike Karou’s on face value and so suddenly. Secondly, when the romance takesthe driving seat, the plight of Karou’s adopted family seems to take back seat.While her main goals are still to get to them, they play second fiddle to theall-encompassing goal of falling madly in love with gorgeous Akiva.
Inthe end, Daughter of Smoke and Bone
is much better than most of what is being published in the young adult genrethese days. If the second half of the book had kept the same quality and toneas the first I would have loved it. However, the sharp left turn Taylor tookabsolutely derailed this book and caused it to drift away from much of whatmade it such a unique, shining beacon in the land of YA. The romance isoverpowering, and boarders on ridiculous, and the sharp cliff style ending isannoying. However, despite my issues with this book, it’s been a huge hit withreaders and despite this review, I feel it largely deserves the fans it has. Ithas its unfortunate problems, but when it’s stacked up against the rest, itstill stands apart from the crowd.