BOOK REVIEW: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

The next three weeks are going to be devoted to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor.

Never has a trilogy left me so conflicted. Overall, I truly did love this series, and I had a really bad case of the mourning’s when I turned the final page of book 3. But for as many things that I absolutely loved about these books, there were also things that had me second-guessing whether or not I would finish the series.

This trilogy is definitely a in-it-for-the-long-haul read. If you’re looking for something that will give you a quick resolution, this probably isn’t for you. You do get your resolutions, but Taylor makes you work for them.

BUT if you want an epically unique world to get lost in and explore, you need to pick up this trilogy. It is expansive and expertly developed and each character has his or her own needs/agenda.

So without further ado: My thoughts on Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone

NON-SPOILER-Y REVIEW

Daughter of Smoke & Bone is a YA Fantasy that takes place in Prague. The MC, Karou, already leads a spectacular life, having been raised by chimaera and traveling the world. But when angels start burning handprints into doors, Karou’s life gets a whole lot more complicated.

There are so many reasons to pick up this first book, but my top has to be the magnificent prose with which Taylor delivers the story. From page one, Taylor’s skills with imagery trap you in the story, and her characters are so vibrant that you feel like you’ve known them forever.

Taylor manages to write an epic-fantasy-level story while straddling the hum-drum human world, but even her human characters are far from stereotypes. She does a brilliant job at giving us fully developed characters from their first introduction as well as laying layer upon layer of mysteries and secrets for us to unravel throughout the series.

And that’s it for this non-spoiler-y section. Don’t read on if you don’t want to be spoiled.


SPOILER-Y FANGIRLING

Okay, so I said it above, but I’ll say it again. OH MY GOD, THE WRITING! NO, SERIOUSLY, THE WRITING!

One of the main reasons I absolutely adored this trilogy was Taylor’s incredible talent and skill with prose. Every metaphor, every visual, every description, everything was just ON POINT!

I loved how fearless and curious Karou was. Overall an incredibly compelling character. Actually, all of Taylor’s characters were compelling. Karou, Akiva, Brimstone, Zuzana.

Also, the world that Taylor creates is fully-realized from the get-go. So even though we have a BAGILLION questions, those questions are due to necessary built-in mystery rather than a lack of world-building.

And before I move on, did anyone else laugh hysterically at Brimstone’s “non-essential penis” line for days on end like I did? No? Just me? Mkay…

Alright, now for the not-so-fangirling bit.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVED this trilogy and will sing Taylor’s praises as a writer all day long, BUT I had a really big issue with the chapters of flashback post mid-point. It felt like I was moving along at a swift pace with Karou and Akiva, then suddenly, “We’re going to interrupt your current story for a massive interlude of backstory.”

That may have been a little harsh.

I do agree that we needed that information for the rest of the series. I just wish it would have been incorporated in a way that didn’t totally press pause on our girl Karou. Even though Karou is Madrigal. But still.

Like I said, I truly do love this story and the characters and the world and the writing. But for whatever reason, I am hung up on that silly flashback. *throws toddler tantrum*

What about y’all? What did you think about the flashback? Did you expect Brimstone to be using teeth to conjure chimaera?

Next Friday, I’ll be reviewing Days of Blood and Starlight, book 2 in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor.

An Introvert’s Love Letter to Writers

As writers, we all have that book that sparked our interest in creating characters and telling their stories. For me, that book was Tamora Pierce’s The Song of the Lioness quartet. It had everything: a badass, ambitious heroine, action, adventure, and multiple well-rounded love interests. If you haven’t read these books, please do so. They are wonderful and lovely and [all other positive adjectives].

I had read books prior to that series, but seeming as how neither of my parents were avid readers, my choices were limited. My elementary school library’s collection revolved around the Goosebumps, Magic Tree House, and Boxcar Children series, all of which I devoured. But Middle School, that selection opened more doors in my imagination, which of course could only be sated by writing my own stories.

So here’s what I have to say to the writers who are struggling with either revisions or submissions, your words have the potential to inspire the next generation of writers. So forget the doubt, forget the frustration, and keep doing what you’re doing. Besides, it’s not like we got into storytelling for the money.


Current YA loves so far for 2015:

Magonia, by Maria Dahvana Headley

Snow Like Ashes, by Sara Raasch (Book 2, Ice Like Fire, releases October 13, 2015!!!)

Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard (Book 2, Glass Sword, releases February 9, 2016!!!)

The Lunar Chronicles, By Marissa Meyer (Series Conclusion, Winter, releases November 10, 2015!!!)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, by Laini Taylor

Gates of Thread and Stone, by Lori M. Lee (Book 2, The Infinite, is waiting for me on my bookshelf.)

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli

More Happy Than Not, by Adam Silvera

My Heart & Other Black Holes, by Jasmine Warga

I know this is a short list. I’m a slow reader and a lot has happened this year. What about ya’ll? What have you read this year?

It’s Okay To Not Be Perfect

I think it’s common for writers to feel the need to be perfect. Write the perfect word. Tell the perfect story. Create the perfect character.

But here’s the reality of it: no one is perfect.

Not even John Green, the biggest name in YA Contemporary at the moment, is perfect. He even pointed out a typo in his author’s notes for The Fault In Our Stars on his YouTube channel, Vlogbrothers. (If you haven’t read the book, do it! Also, check out John and Hank Green’s YouTube channel! It’s my weekly dose of humanity reminding me to be awesome! DFTBA, Nerdfighteria! – Please excuse the excessive exclamation points; all of them are necessary.)

If this particular video, 5 Worst Typos of History, John Green goes through some of the worst typography errors from the U.S. Constitution to a specific printing of the King James Bible. But he ends with asking for forgiveness for any other errors that might exist within the pages of TFIOS.

Though I’m not sure Mr. Green meant for this to be inspirational, I found it a little uplifting, especially when trudging through this rewrite. Writing a book is hard. Publishing a book is even harder. All we can really do is try to put out the best product we can. It’s okay if your prose isn’t as gorgeous as Laini Taylor’s. It’s okay if your world isn’t as sprawling as George R.R. Martin’s.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t edit your stuff. Far from it. No rough draft is going to be the best version of your story. So find beta readers and trusted critique partners to review your manuscript. You should always strive to be the best storyteller you can be, but don’t drive yourself crazy when your writing doesn’t match up to authors like Green and Taylor.

Happy Writing!

Laini Taylor’s books include the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. It’s one of those YA Fantasy series that takes a trope like Angels and Demons and flips it on its head for a unique and exciting adventure. Also, the writing is GORGEOUS.  

If you don’t know who George R.R. Martin is, you’ve been living under a rock. He’s the author of the epic Game of Thrones books.