Series: Daughter Of Smoke And Bone #1
Published by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers on 2011 September 27
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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?
It is scary to be writing a 3-star review for a book so loved. It is even scarier to think that there is something wrong with me for not enjoying a book adored by many. As a reader, I am so easy to please and I am generous with my 4 and 5 stars. Giving Daughter of Smoke and Bone a 3.5 star rating felt like I am perhaps losing myself.
You see, angel stories have already burned me in the past but it didn’t stop me to continue searching for the one that would erase all the bad memories. I thought Daughter of Smoke and Bone would fulfill that journey. Alas, I was in for another disappointment. All throughout the story, I expected to be mind blown, to be unseated, to be weakened from the mixture of emotions, to suffer from a weeklong hangover…etc. I felt empty as my emotions simply refused to yield as the story developed. I can only think of one reason why I suddenly became an unfeeling twit. The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta.
I realized now that it is a wrong strategy to be diving into another book when one is still suffering from a book hangover. Emotions are still entropic and every emotional molecule would defy the pull of the new book. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was the third book I’ve read after Quintana of Charyn. If you have read the latter, you might understand why this book failed to ensnare me in a fashion that would reduce me to my knees just to read it.
Sure, Prague is beautiful. But it became more than that with Laini’s manner of writing. In Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini was able to haul me in a world of magnificent buildings, nostalgic streets and breathtaking bridges. It’s definitely a world that I would love to live in… a perfect setting for Karou’s story to unfold. Although world building is one of the strongest points of this book, I must admit that it also became its downfall. Here and there, I encountered long winded descriptions of the Prague streets, the bridge, and building structures. It can be tiring you know. Sometimes, I just wanna move on.
While I liked the characters of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I still couldn’t get rid of the feeling that I am just seeing them on the surface. Karou’s badass, I get that. She’s loyal, a romantic junkie, a good friend, a good daughter but she lacked the X-factor. What I mean is, if she’s going to an audition for a heroine movie role and she’s alongside Katniss, Hermione, Isaboe, Quintana, Rose H., Karou will definitely be eliminated in the preliminary round.
And then there’s the love interest in the person of Akiva. At some point, I am irked by his woes. And how he chased Karou, forgetting all Angelic dignity and heavenly soldier discipline. Don’t get me wrong though. I still liked him but it’s like love and hate relationship. It didn’t stop me from feeling his pains especially when he witnessed Karou’s execution or his dilemma to put aside his race and be with Karou.
This might sound strange to you but there were three characters in this book who really made their presence felt. And I liked them more than our two leads. First, there’s Brimstone. I immediately adored him at first sight. I love his life philosophies. I love the workings of his mind. I just love him and he’s the only character that made me cry. I hope that he’s not really dead because there’s no one to root for in the second book. :\
Aside from Brimstone, my attention was also caught by our two villains namely, Thiago and Chiro. Their stint in the story might be short but hell, they gave me the creeps and the feeling of revulsion. I am really thankful to Chiro because after knowing her treachery, I felt a significant surge in my emotions. Stupid, conniving little bitch.
I would have really cared about this book if the plot wasn’t too driven by a decade long romance. And the attempt at introducing twists was greatly foiled by the back stories. The back stories were not impressively done that the only mindblowing thing left in this book is the teeth. They really grossed me out. If you must know, teeth play an important role in Philippine superstition. According to the elders, if you dream about your teeth all falling out or getting knocked out for no apparent reason, it means that someone in your family will die. If only for that, Daughter of Smoke and Bone really made a disturbing read.
Okay. Enough of the teeth or I’ll be endangering myself of getting teethish nightmares. Let’s talk about the romance. Since this book is more about romance than epic battles between chimaera and seraphim, I expected that I would be carried away to swoon world. But no. It was instalove. How could it not be? When Karou was still Madrigal and Akiva was still capable of emotions, they immediately made love at the first meeting. Although Akiva was already inlove with Madrigal for two years, it still couldn’t be counted because they only met once during the Bullfinch battle. And two years have passed before they met again and they immediately danced the tango. And the fact that they both belong to different races that loathed each other, it was unbelievable. Then came the present. Karou was reborn and they met again. I imagined that their current romance would grow with more care. But after they almost killed each other, the two of them were already behaving like lovesick puppies. I didn’t hate the instalove that went in this book though. It’s just that Laini could have done a better job in crafting Akiva and Karou’s love story.
And then, just when you’re wishing for something better to happen, the story ended abruptly. I was like, “there’s no way that this book has ended.” And I scrolled my reader for fear that I am missing some pages. It was too cliffhangery for my taste.
Even though Daughter of Smoke and Bone is flawed, I would still read the next installment. Despite the odds, I was still able to grasp some enjoyment in this book. I just have to tell myself over and over again that Laini is just preparing the stage in this book and the next one will be one hell of a ride.