Rummanah Aasi
  I've unsuccessfully tried to write a review for Daughter of Smoke and Bone ever since I finished it a few months ago. No matter what I write, I can't seem to get across how much I loved this book without being overly gushy. Several bloggers before me said the same thing and I didn't understand them until I was in their position. This book received a lot of hype and it is one of the rare ones that deserves all the hype and that much more, which is why I'm extremely nervous when I heard the book rights to this series has already been sought by a movie company. I'm hoping this in no way influences how Laini Taylor will write her series.

Description (from the book's panel): 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?

Review: Every so often there comes a book that completely captures your attention, demands to be read and won't leave your mind long after you finish the last page. Daughter of Smoke and Bone at first glance seems like any ordinary supernatural romance story. It is and it isn't. Sure it contains magic, angels, demons, star-crossed romance, but it stands completely alone. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the most creative, original, spell binding story I've read this year. It is a lush, imaginative tale of magic and monsters, war and heartbreak, loyalty and betrayal, and love and hate. The world-building in this novel is gorgeous and breathtaking, the backstory is completely fresh and original, its otherworldly secrets had me on the edge of my seat. Laini Taylor's writing is masterful and awe inspiring. I wish I had just a smidgen of her talent.
  Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a book that cannot be easily placed into any genre. It is a mystery, a fantasy, a tragedy, a romance, and a coming of age story that feature supernatural figures that we commonly call angels and demons, but that is just touching the surface of the book. The descriptions are vivid, and picturesque, the characters terrifying, complex and oddly compelling, the lines between good and evil is completely blurred, making our hearts break into tiny fragments so we can split our allegiances in a diplomatic fashion.
   Karou is a fabulous heroine. She is quirky and mysterious, aloof yet simultaneously very familiar as she struggles with her nagging feeling of being empty and the constant frustration of getting vague answers from the family she has ever known. It is her vulnerability that struck a strong chord with me and I'm sure with many readers who have experienced that feeling as they are growing up. The haunting question of "Who am I?" is universal and creates a companionship bond with Karou despite her peculiarities. Karou is smart, skilled, curious, and extremely talented. She knows there's more to the story than she's been told. She is fearless when she needs to be, but vulnerable at heart.
  Karou's relationship with the chimaera who comprise her family is complex and contradictory at times. They dote on her and completely trust her, but they also hide the truth and betray her. Yet their deep-rooted bond is one of the most heart-warming aspects of the book, and is crucial to the impossible decisions Karou must make. Though Karou's family are repeatedly called and described as "monsters" or "devils", Taylor creates these figures as three dimensional in order to show that nothing is so simple and absolute. Karou's unconventional family fiercely loves her, and even when it's not always clear, one can't help but think they're acting with her best interest at heart.
  I was completely captivated by the book's engrossing setting as we travel from Prague to other various countries. I felt as if I was with Karou so much so that I completely forgot that I was sitting in my own house reading the book. It was so hard to leave Karou's world and re-enter back to our mundane, in comparison, world. Needless to say, I was completely swept away.
  Taylor perfectly balances drama, action, suspense, and swoon worthy romance that is completely Karou's alone. I will admit that I was lost at first reading the book. We are given tantalizing hints about Karou's past and her real identity, but I didn't mind my confusion at all. I was already enraptured by Taylor's storytelling abilities. Every time I thought I would take a break, I was pulled back by the book to read just one more chapter. When the many strands come together to reveal a stunning and heartbreaking truth, I had so many mixed feelings running through me. I was thrilled that she found all the answers to her questions and learned about her past, but I was also hated the fact that she has to make such a hard decision. I can't wait to find out what Karou does next.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a fast-paced and high-soaring adventure that spans continents and worlds, generations and families, but ultimately it is the story of one unique girl with a hidden sadness and a forgotten past.

Rating: 5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, allusions to sex, and some disturbing scenes in the book. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor, Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare, Tithe by Holly Black
4 Responses
  1. This book is on my list but after reading your excellent review, I just want to go read it RIGHT NOW. Thanks!

  2. If I didn't have this one on my wishlist, your review would have convinced me to add it :) I absolutely loved the way you described it, Rummanah, and it just sounds like such a unique story. Plus, it's set in Europe!

  3. So glad you loved this. I also had trouble writing a review. Have you read Jellicoe Road? I can't remember. I think of the books as similar. They're totally different obviously, but their complexity and how inconsequential things at the beginning of the book make so much sense when you re-read it is the same. I love books that grow the more I think about it.

  4. Jenny Says:

    YEAH!!!! This was one of my favorite books this year, it just blew me away. I had no idea what to expect going in, but what I got was so much more than I could have imagined. I agree with everything you said, it was a beautiful, tragic story with a fabulous protagonist in Karou:) Need book 2 right this second!

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