Magan: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pages: 418
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.

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8 thoughts on “Magan: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

  1. Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl says:

    Oooo! I have been so iffy about this one, but since you liked it I bet I will too. I either hear that people loved it or hated it, and books with reviews like that scare me. Haha. It sounds good, though, and I think you’ve convinced me I need to read this one. Thanks for the review!

  2. April Books & Wine says:

    I love what you say in your review about family being the people you surround yourself with and absolutely agree that Daughter of Smoke And Bone does an amazing job showing this. I remember having an ache at the end of this book for Karou, mostly because of her family and their pain.

    Absolutely this is a recipe for awesome 🙂

  3. Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books says:

    With a review like that, it makes me want to bump this book all the way to the top of my reading pile! I’ve always meant to check out this novel, but with your enthusiastic endorsement, it’s definitely getting more of a priority on my list of books to read in 2012 🙂

  4. Mands says:

    I’m not sure that I will love this either but I’ve read so many good reviews (including this one!) that I want to read it anyway. None of my local libraries have and I don’t know if I should buy it I think I’m going to have to!

    • Magan says:

      Mands, you should definitely give it a try! It was super different for me as well, but I think that’s what makes us better readers/reviewers. I think you’d really enjoy it! Don’t give up on it – read it all the way through. Their love is so… INTENSE and addicting. Wowza!

  5. France says:

    Taylor perfectly balances drama and action with wit and passion, the kind of read that tickles the imagination and seeps into the soul. Readers will delight in the mystery of the devil’s teeth, the brutal war between worlds and the truth of Karou’s identity, never knowing where this colorful saga will take them next. Taylor’s storytelling is stark and exquisite and lyrical, but also haunting, dark and sometimes tragic. When the many strands come together to reveal a stunning and heartbreaking truth, readers will never know what hit them. This is a fast-paced and high-soaring adventure that spans continents and worlds, generations and families — but ultimately it all comes down to one girl, one special, strange girl with a secret sadness and a forgotten past.

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