Wednesday, January 4, 2012
"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" by Laini Taylor
The book has a great setting and an interesting premise. Karou is an art student living in Prague, but she has a secret: she runs errands collecting human and animal teeth for her "family" of monster-like creatures called chimaera. The head of this family is Brimstone, also called the Wishmonger, as he deals in wishes. On one errand, Karou is unexpectedly confronted by an angel, who attempts to kill her. Though she escapes, she's shocked when he finds her soon after--but he only wants to talk. As Karou and Akiva, the angel, spend more time together, they uncover their hidden history and learn more about the war between the chimaera and the angels.
In the beginning, I was game for the novel. Prague's a fun setting, and I enjoyed reading about Karou's double life. I especially liked Karou's best friend Zuzana, who's spunky and utterly devoted. There's great build up for discoveries about Karou's origin and foreshadowing for a good fight.
But then Akiva enters. And OMG, did you know he is beautiful? Because the author seems to forget we know. Beautiful. Beautiful! Moving on--oh, wait, I need to talk again about how beautiful he is. Okay, I appreciate that characters can be attractive and should be described as such, but there's really a point where it becomes overkill. And, guess what? He's not only beautiful. He's also pained. Tortured. Smoldering. The utterly romantic stalker (barf). Take Edward Cullen, make him warm and give him wings, and you get Akiva. Like Edward, Akiva is utterly without personality in his own right, and because of that, I felt no heat in his and Karou's relationship--just a lot of eye-rolling.
Then, Taylor takes a break from describing how tingly Karou and Akiva are around one another for an extended and awkwardly placed flashback, during which all the mysteries' truths are revealed in a fairly literal reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet. The novel quickly concludes after, which felt anti-climatic, and ends on an utterly depressing note. Yay.
Considering all the praise the novel received, I was especially disappointed to see a run-of-the-mill romance with a stock male lead. Karou is more interesting initially, but she gets insanely boring by the time we get to the flashback. Taylor gets high marks from me for her world building, so it's a shame she populated it with such trite characters and relationships. Maybe the novel would have been better in print, where the repetition and annoying parts could be skimmed over, but it became almost unendurable at points in the audiobook.