Thursday, 30 April 2015

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor

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 grows 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 hairactually 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 beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery 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?

When I decided to start Daughter of Smoke and Bone (hereby referred to as DOSAB), I was terrified. Not in the sense that I was scared of the book, more of my own expectations. I've seen countless reviews of DOSAB everywhere, all of which were overflowing with praise. I couldn't escape the hype. In all honesty, that's probably the only reason I bought the book. More often than not the whole angel demon thing isn't for me.

I found the book slow to start, but I like my fantasy to get straight into the nitty gritty. Karou was almost too mysterious, meaning I found it hard to get inside of her head and truly understand how she was feeling. I obviously knew how she was feeling from the writing, but it felt like I was just reading it rather than actually experiencing it, if you can understand what I mean! However, as soon as Zuzana was introduced I really started to get into it. She's a tiny, Czechoslovakian me! I definitely connected with her more than Karou. 

I found the whole concept of the Brimstone, Karou's Chimaera caregiver, collecting teeth in exchange for wishes totally intriguing. Although Karou felt excluded and even slightly used by Brimstone as she got older, due to being used for transactions between humans who supply the teeth and Brimstone who supplies the wishes, the bond between her and the chimaera who raised her was clearly very close and loving. Even though the chimaera are definitely not humans, I still found it easy to understand Karou's bond with them. Seeing her go on her quest's to find teeth is a little heartbreaking, as you know it pushes away her human friends whilst making her feel used by the chimaera, though that's definitely not what they were doing.

Not a lot can be said from that point in the book onwards without giving spoilers. You're definitely introduced to some more interesting characters and find out a hell of a lot more backstory to everything. Finding out more about the Chimaera and where they come from, as well as Karou's origin, is satisfying if only briefly. As soon as you get an answer, another question is raised. But this is what made the book so hard to put down.

Laini's writing style is whimsical, making it effortless to visualise the world you're in. Although it took a little while for me to get to grips with the characters, once I did you begin to feel as if you know them, even if only a little. I loved that it was written in third person, it made it so much easier to get everyone's perspective and really dig deeper into all the elements of the story.

All I can say about the end is that there was a plot twist I definitely didn't anticipate. By the end I was feeling all kinds of feels towards this book and just needed more. Like, right now! As I said earlier the whole angel demon thing is getting overdone in the YA genre now, however this put a good twist on it, saving it from falling in with all the other clich├ęs. Although I was expecting crazy epicness from this book due to the hype surrounding it, and I didn't feel like that's entirely what I got, I still really enjoyed it. I'll for sure be carrying on with the rest of the series. A solid 4/5 stars!

What do you think about the angel demon theme becoming increasingly used in YA fiction? Do you think if there's hype surrounding a book it can make it less satisfying when you actually read it? Have you read DOSAB yet? If so, how did you find it?

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