Daughter of Smoke & Bone
by Laini Taylor
Book One of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy
Hardcover, 432 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Blue haired seventeen year-old Karou is a mysterious girl. She disappears for days and returns with a vague story that is sometimes accompanied with unexplainable injuries. Her friends never think to ask what her last name is and her family? Let’s just say.. they’re different.
Having been raised by her chimera family, Karou spent her childhood in a dusty, cluttered shop that she could always find a door to, even though she never knew where it was, besides Elsewhere. The only father figure she’s ever known, Brimstone, the teeth-monger, sends her on errands all over the world collecting teeth from hunters, though Karou is never quite sure why he needs them. Though Karou is fairly satisfied with her life in art school and with her unusual family, she always feels as if something is missing, that she should be doing something else, that she should be somewhere else, though she has no idea what or where, and she cannot shake her loneliness.
On one such errand she meets a seraphim, Akiva, though he is definitely not the harp playing, pull up and cloud and let’s hang kind of a angel. Their first encounter is rough, to say the least. From Akiva Karou learns of another world that exists outside of the one she knows; a world of war and death. For centuries the chimera and the seraphim have been waging war against each other. Though they feel that they should be enemies, Akiva helps Karou learn about herself, her past, and her chimera family to both a beautiful and painful end.
What I Liked About It
There were a few things that I really liked about this book. The first thing that really stands out to me is the fact that wishes are used as currency, and like currency there are different values of wishes, like there are different values of money. There’s just something really neat about the idea that teeth are purchased from hunters with wishes. How rare or powerful the teeth are equates to how powerful of a wish the hunters are paid with. Pretty clever.
It seems simple, but I really like the character’s names. The chimera: Brimstone, Yasri, Issa, Twiga, Kishmish (absolutely my favorite), Madrigal, Thiago. The seraphim: Akiva, Hazael, and Liraz. Considering this book is sci-fi/fantasy, I feel like the names are appropriately otherworldly, but not over the top. (To be totally honest, at first I thought Karou was kind of a silly name, but it all gets explained, so I got over it).
Lastly, I enjoyed that the book tied together fairly well at the end. There were very few things towards the end that I was left wondering about – except for the cliffhanger, naturally. For the most part, I was pleased with the story’s progression.
What I Didn’t Like About It
OK. So I’m not one to turn my nose up to a squishy teen fiction romance, (Trust me, I read Twilight before it got popular and I loved it like crazy even then. No judging.) but my GOODNESS, talk about overkill on the “we’re so in love!” “we love each other!” “look at how in love we are!” “love is great and you are great and I love you!”. I really feel like all of that business was drawn out quite a bit.
Also, when we’re given backstory to… well, everything, it felt pretty slow as well. At that point I really was ready for the book to start tying things up and things just weren’t tying. I’m glad there is as detailed of a backstory as there is, as that generally shows that the author really thought about where all of her characters came from and are well-developed, however I don’t think we needed over 20 pages of said backstory.
All in All
I really liked this book! Though the backstory was a bit too detailed and felt drawn out in the end, I am hoping that the second book will continue to explore that world because author Laini Taylor has created a place and many characters that I can see myself truly falling in love with.
Naturally a movie is in the works. Earlier this year Universal grabbed up the rights and as of March, Stuart Beattie (30 Days of Night, Collateral) has been enlisted to write the adaptation. Keep an eye on the movie’s IMDB page for updates on the film’s production progress.