Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Book Breakdown: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I haven’t done one of these in awhile, mainly because I’m now an “official” reviewer for Fresh Fiction (bomb diggity!).

What that means for you is you’ll have to go there for my more timely reviews. I’ll see if I can keep this up (I’m working two and a half jobs, so cut me a little slack).

Onward!

I’m a quick reader. I average about 250-300 words per minute. This is not speed reading. I read and process every word on the page. Look at it this way: If you talk the 10,000 hour rule of expertise that was laid out in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, I am an expert reader twice over. At least.

But, I digress.

Every once in awhile I come across a book that makes me want to read slower. It’s like good chocolate. You want let it rest on your tongue, melt down, let all the rich flavor come out in order for you to savor just how good it is.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is good chocolate.

Book Breakdown

(like it’s so good, it’s bad for you)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

This is one of my top books of 2011. I should put a summary here. I just don’t think it will really do it justice. Let me try a cut and paste for Laini Taylor‘s website.

“Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?”

While it seems that angel/human/devil has been a trend in YA literature (minor-trend? subtrend?), this does not fall into that category. Taylor constructs a parallel world where these creatures are actual species and tribes, unconcerned with acquiring human souls. Instead, they are locked in a war. One race fights for freedom, the other fights for vengeance. Karou was raised by a chimaera, Brimstone, who spends his days collecting teeth for mysterious reasons.

Karou is his errand girl, a human girl collecting teeth. For her troubles, she is granted scuppies and shings, a currency that can be traded in for wishes.

There is something about this book that is carnal and violent, while still being subtle and beautiful. The ending has a winding quality as memories unravel, circling back upon themselves to reveal the new and the known.

The world is complex. The voice is liquid. I’m going to defer to the ladies at Coffee Talk for this one.

This book is like buttah.

First Ten:

In the first 10 pages, Karou’s ex-boyfriend ambushes her on the street, revealing that Karou is impossible to scare. Immediately after, he shows up in her art class as a model. You know. In the traditional sense.

There is no better way to show how narcissistic (and possibly sadistic) someone is.

The way Karou handles the situation is quite satisfying.

Unfortunately for you, I borrowed the book. If not, I would have had some sort of giveaway, but, alas, it is not mine to give. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think.

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