Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Posted October 10th, 2012 in book review / 22 comments

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Book #1 of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series

by Laini Taylor

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company (Sept. 2011)
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Format: Paperback and ebook (417 pages)
Source: Just won in a giveaway and got a digital copy from Books4Review.
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars)

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 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? ~ Add to Goodreads

At A Glance
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not like any other book I have read before. The writing and imagery is beautiful and the premise is completely unique. I die a little inside every day having to wait for the second book to come out.

The Good
Here’s the Story
Karou has a unique life. Her days consist of drawing fantasy scenes in her sketch book, learning language through wishes, and collecting teeth for her monster friends. She was raised by monsters, nice monsters who have cared for her since birth and now have her collect teeth for a mysterious reason they have yet to reveal. It’s a lonely life sometimes but at least she has some sort of family. Then everything changes when winged strangers mark certain doors around the world. These marks change Karou’s life forever. Now separated from her family, Karou finds solace with one of the winged beings who hates the monsters she’s involved with but loves her for everything she can’t remember.

A New Favorite Author…
The biggest thing I want to gush about is the beautiful writing. It was so descriptive and lyrical. It flowed flawlessly and rhythmically almost like a poem. I could picture everything in my head to precision. I almost feel like I had just watched a movie because all the pictures and scenes are still running through my head. Taylor knows her way around words, that’s for sure. She built up the mystery and suspense in a way that made it hard to put this book down. And she is perfection when it comes to showing instead of telling. I can’t wait to read more of Laini Talyor’s work.

Karou, our blue-haired artist, was everything I would want in a protagonist. She has a mysterious past, she is smart, funny, and strong, and she has depth beyond imagining. I was drawn into her world and her role in it. I knew there was more to her than meets the eye and when all is revealed it is both heartbreaking and mesmerizing. Her part in the supernatural war is far more important than anyone can guess. Well, that’s what I think anyways.

Akiva is on the opposing side of the war. But even though being with Karou is against all the rules, he can’t help himself. He is drawn to her, it’s a pull that goes soul deep. He just has to convince her that she is more than just Karou. Akiva has many up hill battles ahead of him. His life is closely tied to Karous but he is hiding things that can ruin everything they ever had together. I feel bad for Akiva because I believe he is a great person but he has done some unforgivable things. But I have hope for him and Karou.

Zuzana is the Sh!t…
I had to give Karou’s best friend, Zuzana, her own paragraph. I just love everything about her. She is my favorite best friend character in all of bookland. She is beyond hilarious, she cares without prejudice, and…and…did I mention she was hilarious? I actually couldn’t wait for her to come on the scene. You have to experience her to get what I am saying, it’s hard to explain her because I can’t do her justice with just words, that’s Laini’s job.

This is a SPOILER:
I have to mention why I loved this story so much but it will spoil the surprise for some people who have yet to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone. You have been warned: I loved the concept of this story. Two races, the monsters below and the monsters above, call them demons and angels if you will. They both fight a war for war sake. They do not discuss compromises because neither will yeld to the other. And thousands are dying for reasons barely remembered. One side sees the war through gilded eyes and the other wants freedom but at the price of their souls. Neither will stop to see reason, which means this war is far from over. Is there ever really a winner when a society sacrifices it’s own to win a war?

The Bad
Only a few things to mention here. First, the POV shifting took me a little while to get use to but in the end I barely even noticed it.

When I thought back to this book after reading the last page I realized not a lot happens for a portion of the book. The first half is amazing, descriptive and beautiful, then the second half focuses on Akiva and Karou and them doing…nothing. Bad, bad pacing on Laini’s part. The whole point of this book is finding out who Karou really is, which we only find out in the end. When it comes to action and story climaxes, it lacked a little in the second half and then was awesome again at the end.

The Snuggly
There is definitely some yummy chemistry between Karou and Akiva. I like how deep their bond went, even farther than any of us could have imagined. It felt pure and…right. Any sexual activity or mention of it is YA-ish, so it’s pretty safe for the teenager crowd. But it is still very hot and romantic. I love everything about Karou and Akiva being together.

I enjoyed almost everything about Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It has mystery galore, it has a romance like no other, and we get left on a cliffhanger that was actually very exciting and not annoying like so many other cliffhangers I have read. This might just be my next favorite series. Highly recommended.

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.” 

“She craved a presence beside her, solid. Fingertips light at the nape of her neck and a voice meeting hers in the dark. Someone who would wait with an umbrella to walk her home in the rain, and smile like sunshine when he saw her coming. Who would dance with her on her balcony, keep his promises and know her secrets, and make a tiny world wherever he was, with just her and his arms and his whisper and her trust.” 

“It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry ‘Monster!’ and looked behind him.” 

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22 Responses to “Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor”

  1. Heather

    I really loved this book, and I’m in the same boat as you… waiting for the next one is paaaaainful! XD

    Thanks for the great review!

  2. Micheline D

    I absolutely loved this book & I’m glad you seem to have enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed your review 🙂 The next one is coming out soon!! Soon the painful wait will be over LOL.

  3. Julie

    I keep meaning to read this. After reading your review, I definitely need to move it up on my to-read list. Great Review!

  4. Elisa

    I knew I wanted to read this one, I knew nothing about it though, only that it is popular and good and I needed to get it. Now I know about it and desperately want to read it! Argh. TBR be damned.
    Thanks Jennifer – lovely review, I can’t wait to get my greedy hands on this book. 🙂

  5. Sarah (saz101)

    “I die a little inside every day having to wait for the second book to come out.”

    *holds you*
    *strokes your hair*
    Aaaha, you have joined us ♥

    Oh my goodness, Jen! I’m so so SO excited you loved this so much.. and… and your REVIEW! DAGKAJF! You Spoiler paragraph is poetry.

    You know how much I adore this book. It’s an absolute favorite. You know when you connect with a book on a really deep, almost spiritual level? *sigh* Laini’s prose is… I mean, it’s perfect. There’s no other word for it. You know, other than superb, lyrical, stunningly beautiful… uh…

    ANYWAY. I DO agree about the peculiar pacing during that LONG flashback part. I understand why it was necessary, and I still savored and reveled in every single shining moment of it, but oh yes. It tripped up the pacing. It’s one of those very, very rare books where it wasn’t such a problem for me, though. All its other parts compensated for it?

    AND YES! THE ENDING! Oh goodness! I mean, it has its own peculiar brand of resolution — the utterly heartshattering kind — but it felt right. Seriously. Your review. SO good ♥

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Hehe. Your comments always make me smile. It’s like your own review of my review. LOL. I LOVES it!

      I have decided to add at least a paragraph of depth and analysis per review because you write like whole reviews like that (but you are superhuman special and in no way can I match that) so I thought I would add my own smarty-pants paragraph that makes people think about how the book relates to our lives in some way or at least leave people with a question to mull over.

      I don’t even understand how annoyed I am that the second book has yet to come out. I know it’s coming soon, but…but…I want it NOOWWW!!!

      I have always hated cliffhanger endings. This is the first time I thought it was a perfect ending for a book. How the hell did Taylor manage that?

    • Sarah (saz101)

      5 stars to Jennifer’s review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone! Hehehehe!

      Dude, I LOVE your smart-pants paragraph! And I don’t know that I *do* do that, but I, uh, try? I swear I just used to write a paragraph on each of the main characters, then one on the romance, and… eh… I don’t know what happened. But you DON’T do that! I think once I may have written a review where an entire paragraph was just OMG OMG OMG OMG EXCLAMATION MARK x 3465823753684572346974 about the love interest 😛

      And I love love LOVE reading your character analysiseses. Especially Zusanna. OMG. I LOVED HER ♥ ♥ ♥

      And the second book. Yes. *cries* Brodie andI have been counting down until ARCs arrive. Seriously. Every time I get a package from Hachette I freak. The fuck. Out.

      Still no love *sobs hysterically*

      And “I have always hated cliffhanger endings. This is the first time I thought it was a perfect ending for a book. How the hell did Taylor manage that?”

      OH GOODNESS YES. Because it feels like a contrived way to stretch out the tension, and make you come back for book two? I HATE that. A story should have a beginning, middle and end. DoSaB tells the story it set out, and it DOES give a kind of satisfaction and resolution. It leaves with unresolved issues, but it feels like a complete story. Laini = Master ♥♥♥

    • Jennifer Bielman

      It is totally a complete story with so much more to tell.

      I tried to write a paragraph about Zuzanna but it was hard. It’s like you have to experience her for yourself to truely understand her.

      I wanna ARC. Waaaahh! I must find out how to get one.

    • Sarah (saz101)

      “It is totally a complete story with so much more to tell.”

      Aaaah, Jennnnnnn, I’m dyyyyying. NEED it. And I’m… seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted an ARC so badly O__O


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