by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Published on September 27, 2011 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Around the world, black hand prints 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 otherworldly 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 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?
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I’ve gone back and forth about Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It’s one of those books that had such a cool premise and world but something never. . . clicked for me.
To start, this book has the kind of writing style that just wasn’t quite working for me. Everything was drawn out and flowery which, okay, I can work with that if the story is picking up in the background but wow was it all over the place. Honestly, the entire plot felt disconnected (and that’s listening to it after reading it once already). And then the last 25-ish% is all flashbacks? If I hadn’t have read it once through before I would have been so lost on the audiobook when that section started.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone felt like the kind of book that would work really well in a visual medium — graphic novel, TV show, something that sucks up all those flowery descriptions and gets right to the heart of the story.
As for the characters, I liked Karou, but I didn’t feel super strongly about her one way or the other. She was a blue-haired girl, as we’re often reminded through the story. I think her interactions with Zuzanna at the beginning were my favorite but once she and Akiva started working together I lost interest. Mostly because I really didn’t like Akiva. He was so all over the place and the whole insta-love thing between them (which I realize is explained but doesn’t make it better) was not working for me at all.
What I love about this book is the world. The Chimaera, the teeth collecting and the darker truth behind it, creatures formed from all different animals raising a little girl, it’s unique. It caught my attention. Honestly, I should have loved this book based on the premise.
But I didn’t. Not quite.
I didn’t hate Daughter of Smoke and Bone (I re-read it, after all) and I think I’ll try the rest of the books, but not in print. I don’t think I could slog through the other two but I could listen to the audiobooks while multi-tasking.