Monday, May 28, 2012

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Book #1)
by Laini Taylor 

Genre: Fantasy/Angels
Reading Grade: Young Adult
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Source: Hardcover purchase
Age Rating: 15+

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? 

My Review

I had to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone because who hasn't been gushing and raving over it throughout the book blogosphere, right? It is the thing to be reading and my curiosity knew no bounds...

  • Plot: Karou is an odd girl attending art school in Prague and runs secrets errands for a wish-monger named Brimstone. She lives a normal human life as far as her friends can see, but was raised by chimaera, beings that live in a secret workshop run by Brimstone who collects teeth from every living creature for some unknown reason. One day, Karou meets Akiva, a seraph, and he is drawn to her for reasons he doesn't understand. But, he is the key to discovering her true identity and the answers to all her lifelong questions about Brimstone's mysterious work.
  • Characters: Karou is mostly clueless about her life and origins, and when she asks Brimstone anything, he never gives her answers. She uses little wishes that he gives her in exchange for running his errands to make her hair blue, and make people she's mad at itch in unseemly places in public. She's unique and interesting, but not exactly amazing. Zuzana is her best friend, but at first I thought she was annoying. She did grow on me. Akiva is okay, if a little too “perfect boyfriend” material, as he just seems to be totally into Karou and nothing else. Guys just aren't really like that. But, both he and Karou have very intricate back-stories that make them more layered as characters, even if their personalities aren't all that vibrant and enticing.
  • Writing: Goodness, the writing is ridiculous. It's so effortlessly simple, yet sophisticated. Gorgeous, even though it didn't have to be. The story is already very interesting and the fabulous writing is like cake with too much frosting—not a bad thing at all—even makes the cake more fun to eat.
  • Story: Here's where I'm at a loss for why some reviewers were unimpressed by this book. The story becomes so intriguing, once you get far enough into it. Granted, I wasn't too impressed with the first 100 pages. It's just all about Karou's normal life, which is unusual, but it isn't a story, yet. A story does get underway, eventually, and it continually builds up to a very amazing tale of a fantasy world that was thrilling. It just kept getting better and better as I read on, uncovering all the mysteries that made me want to keep on reading it. So good. It's all about how Karou goes on a journey of self-discovery after meeting Akiva, and her true identity is so fascinating.
  • Overall Quality: Super high. I think if someone is looking for a very different YA fantasy book, then this is the perfect one to go with. It's totally different from the mainstream YA fantasy out there, which is refreshing. Although, I usually like the mainstream stuff, this still held some magic for me. I only wish the characters were more fun, but that wasn't a huge detriment.
  • Favorite Moment: It's hard for me pick an absolute favorite, but I really like the scene when Akiva first sees the wishbone hanging around Karou's neck and he immediately sinks down onto his knees with shock, amazement, joy. She has no idea what is going on with him, but he tells her that he has figured out who she is because of it. Pretty cool and it makes you want to know who she is, although it takes the rest of the novel to tease out the answer.
  • My Score: 3.5 stars out of 5.


  1. I also really enjoyed this novel!! Taylor's writing is just so easy to read and the characters do suck you right in! So excited for The Days of Blood & Starlight =)

    1. @Emily: Her writing is one of the best things about the book. :)

  2. This is one of those books I have such high expectations for that I'm actually afraid to read it. What if I hate it?! :(

    1. @Jenny: I don't think you'll hate this book. It's not bad enough to hate, I don't think. But, don't have unrealistic expectations.

  3. I really liked this one, too! The first 100 pages is setting up the world and slowly feeding the plot to the reader, but I was enticed by it. But I loved it. Daughter is one of my favorite fantasy novels of 2011. <3

    Ashelynn @ gypsy book reviews.

    1. @Ash: Yeah, I know the first 100 pages were meant to set things up, but it kind of bored me. It took too long to get to the actual story, but I'm glad I stuck with it. The rest of it was pretty good.

  4. As one of the reviewers who wasn't completely over the moon about this book, I can say that what disappointed me in this ones is not the storytelling itself but the timing and length of what could be construed as back story. If it had been a bit shorter maybe I wouldn't have been so distracted, or maybe if I care about the people and relationships it was meant to highlight. But by that stage, I had become so apathetic to Karou and Akiva that I couldn't care less what the big reveal was. It might be that I'm so tired of reading about beautiful heroines and heroes and that both Akiva and Karou being beautiful was constantly thrust upon the reader. It made me wonder whether the significant event they shared would have been so life changing had either of them being bottom of the barrel ugly. I doubt it. I also didn't understand why the Chimaera would aspire to have a high human aspect when their very society is meant to be in beast form and they hate seraphs who are essentially human looking. Despite this, I have to say that Taylor is a beautiful writer and that more than anything else carried the book for me.

    1. @Lan: I agree that the back story might have been better had I cared more about the characters. I liked the story and how different the entire story was, but the characters just didn't bowl me over. It was saved by beautiful writing and a clever concept, though, at least to a degree. But, obviously, I didn't think it was the most amazing book ever.

  5. Funny, I think I had the exact opposite reaction! I really liked the beginning--I was totally sucked in. Where the book lost steam for me was when it became apparent that this was an angel love story. It was so disappointingly mundane, in what was otherwise a beautifully written and unique story. I totally agree on the writing--beautiful.

    I just could not swallow the love story. I tried. It was so over-the-top insta-love for me. Esp with them being from totally different species. I kept picturing a mongoose and a cobra getting all snuggly and starry-eyed with one another.

    All my gripes aside, I will most likely read the next book. :)

    Great review! I was dying to know what you thought of this one!

    1. @Camille: Books are so subjective, aren't they? I really thought the love story worked pretty well, and I was expecting it to turn into a love story because everyone kept complaining that it did.


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