Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

publication date: 2011
pages (ebook): 318
ISBN: 978-0-316-19214-9

I rarely intend to read a YA series. Instead, I often stumble upon them, as I stumbled upon Daughter of Smoke & Bone. I had a list of library books I wanted to read, but I was too lazy to go to the library so I browsed their new ebooks. One of the ebooks was this one. Because of the plot description, I figured it might be a good diversion for an evening, so I checked it out. Instead of being a “diversion,” it turned into a life-pausing event. Even if I don’t like a YA series that much, such as Beautiful Creatures, I always stay up too late reading it, spend too much money on ebooks, and neglect any and all duties until the series is done. The Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy was no exception.

In this book we meet Karou, a Czech artist living and working in Prague. We soon learn that Karou isn’t strictly normal; instead she can make her wishes actually come true and is routinely sent around the world by her employer to collect – of all things – teeth. Karou soon crosses paths with a beautiful young man named Akiva. And the rest of the story can be neatly summed up by the book’s epigraph: “Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.”

One of the reasons I was not intending to read another YA series just yet is because I’m getting tired of the Magnetic Pull between the primary male and primary female character in a YA book. It goes something like this: Our young heroine, Aberdeen, rounds a corner and stumbles right into the swashbuckling Crawford. Startled (and probably antagonistic), they look into each others’ eyes and have never seen anything so attractive. For the rest of the series, they dance around each other and experience things like this:

[Akiva knew] being near [Karou] was like balancing on a tipping world, trying to keep your footing as the ground wanted to roll you forward, hurl you into a spiral from which there was no recovery, only impact, and it was a longed-for impact, a sweet and beckoning collision.

I’m in the mood for a book that is still interesting, and sexy, but leaves behind all this ardent, “love-and-lust-are-inevitable” stuff. Don’t get me wrong, this romance was compelling; I just knew where I was being herded the entire time.

Taylor has a punchy, witty writing style and her characters are imbued with passion and brightness. She also creates some exciting fantasy, while still being aware of just how fantastical the whole thing is. For example, one character admonishes Karou that “You are not just going to vanish like this, Karou. This isn’t some goddamn Narnia book.”

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is one of the better YA series, but it is a YA series nonetheless, with all the attendant cliches, tumults, and disappointments.

4/6: worth reading

Other reviews of the book:

New York Times
Entertainment Weekly
Oh, Chrys

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