YA Weekend: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1
Publisher: Little Brown Books (September 2011)
Author Info: www.lainitaylor.com
Wendy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Karou is a nice, blue-haired enigma living in Prague and attending art school where her friends love to see her sketchbooks. In those books are beautiful images of fantastical creatures–human and beast, woven together like tapestries–and she has elaborate tales to go with every image on every page.
The thing is, the stories she tells about those creatures are as real as the creatures themselves, because Karou’s family happen to be a bunch of chimera. Karou is well aware that this is not exactly normal, but, having no clue about anything else about herself, she accepts it as how her life works. Until the angels arrive to literally burn things down.
Taylor’s world is incredible, and I love the tantalizing unveiling of the age-old struggle between the chimera and the angels, with neither side clearly being good or evil and poor Karou caught in the middle of it. The only thing that could make this aspect of the book better is if it included a full gallery of Karou’s work.
Unfortunately, the story starts to fall apart for me right about the time that the angel Akiva appears. He is beautiful beyond all understanding, and Karou is drawn to him as he is to her, even though they are enemies. Uh oh. Forbidden love alarm bells! I love a good Romeo and Juliet story, but this one just wasn’t it. When the two start to obviously fall for each other, the feisty Karou is replaced by the lonely Karou in desperate need of someone to call her own, while Akiva, who gets to tell the story from his own point of view as well, is the wounded angel who once knew the love of the enemy and is falling for it again.
Back to the part about the angels burning things down. The book takes on all the signs of a pending apocalypse when the angels reveal themselves to humanity, fighting this battle on earth instead of in other realms as it has been in the past. While we do get a few glimpses of the damage and excitement that results, that all becomes background noise as Akiva and Karou go on dates to get to know each other. Okay, it’s not that trite, but it feels a bit like that at times when they are hanging out at coffee houses after epic street battles–even if the people do believe it to be just an elaborate street performance.
Once we learn about Akiva’s past, the connection to Karou becomes obvious and so the big reveal–which is dragged out to frustrating levels–isn’t such a surprise. It’s also where the book falters further, slowing the pace to give us the truth about Karou in more forbidden love angst, complete with potential love triangle concerns.
By the end, I was disappointed. So much potential in a unique story about angels and demons and their war, but it all just ends up as a banal young adult love story. Despite the second big reveal (again, dragged out and unsurprising), there is promise for things to get interesting, but I have so little desire to hang out with Karou and Akiva much further.