Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Released: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: Library book
Why I picked it up: It was brand new at my library!
Summary: Karou is studying art in Prague; she has no family to speak of except for the monsters (that really exist) she draws in her notebooks. Black handprints begin to appear on the portals that take her to friends’ world – they lead her to question who she is and she gets caught up in an otherworldly war.
This book has been buzzing all over the Internet – bloggers everywhere have been singing its praises. Though I would say it’s not my typical kind of read, I knew that I should pick it up so I could understand what everyone was talking about. (I think this is probably a book that should be added to my list of books that took me out of my comfort zone).
I was captivated from the very beginning with Karou’s world – she is an artist with a fascinating best friend and she’s trying to ditch her cheating ex-boyfriend. I realized immediately that I’d have to pay careful attention to all the names so I could keep track of who everyone was. Karou keeps a sketchbook on hand at all times that she fills with drawings of monsters. Though she’s jokingly told her friends that they’re real, no one believes her. When I was introduced to everyone in the book – both through the drawings she’d done and when she really does visit them – I had to flip back and forth between a few sections so I could imagine exactly what these characters looked like.
They were combinations of humans and animals and in order to find them, they had to give Karou special access to their portal. She grew up without any parents and spends much of her time questioning who she is; the monsters are the only family she’s ever known. I loved the beauty of a girl who was adopted by people (I feel weird continually referring to them as monsters) so different than her. Though this was a completely fictional story, I think it made a beautiful point of how family is who we surround ourselves with and it isn’t necessarily defined by blood.
The heart of the story is about the forbidden love between Akiva, one of the guys who is burning his handprint on the portals around the world, and Karou. There is something deep and gravitational between the two. They’re supposed to hate one another and become enemies; however, their past runs much deeper than Karou knows. When he is reintroduced to her life, she begins to peel away the mystery of her past to find out who she is. My heart pounded with such intensity while I read the parts where these two were together – their love was so fascinating. It made me excited for them, but yet my stomach was in knots because I didn’t know how their story would progress.
Karou and Akiva tell parts of the story – it alternates from each of their perspectives and from past to present day. Because I was given so much information, I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to believe. I rooted for both of them and hoped that their love would prevail. The story is extremely meaty, meaning that there is a ton of detail and description. There’s a lot to be learned, and mixed with the multiple points of view, I found I couldn’t speed read through the book. I took my time and appreciated it so much more.
Taylor’s writing is absolutely wonderful. I think this is the first book I’ve read since the Harry Potter series that I thought, “WOW. She put a lot of effort into completely developing this world.” I feel like she 100% immersed herself in it. When I first began the book, I thought it was going to be about an angel and a devil who were forbidden to fall in love. That was definitely the wrong assumption (you know what they say about people who assume) and I couldn’t have been more intrigued by how rich and new the world was. While it seems like the story is set in Prague, there are so many places to travel to and learn about.
In a nutshell – it’s a story about a forceful attraction between a guy and a girl, a world with so much war going on, and a girl discovering who she is for the first time.
Doesn’t that sound like a recipe for amazing? I definitely vote yes.