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Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by @lainitaylor and a 3×5 #Giveaway

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the first in a trilogy. The second is Days of Blood and StarlightThe third, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, releases next spring.
daughter_of_smoke_and_boneAround 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 beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery 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?

So much to say.

One of the biggest aspects separating this book from other YA novels is the dialogue. Funny. Witty. Completely age-appropriate. There is a give-and-take in Karou’s relationships, giving a organic and natural feeling to her friendships. Her dialogue shifts to reflect each of these unique relationships.

I’m still laughing over funny lines.

Another is the creative spin on demons/devils. I haven’t read any other books that give demons a culture, let alone a social hierarchy and beauty. To me, it’s an exercise in taking the lines of what we know and imagining what could be beyond them. And a reminder that anything is possible in story.

An example of this: Brimstone’s (the devil that raised Karou) obsession with collecting teeth, which he sends Karou on errands to collect. What do teeth have to do with the war between angels and devils? To tell you would be to spoil the story. 🙂

The characters are completely unique, too, in an unexpected setting. I love YA books set in America (or future America), but to read something set in a beautiful foreign place such as Prague was refreshing.

I love everything about Karou. From her ultramarine hair (maybe it’s blue because Laini Taylor’s hair is pink?) to her curiousity to her art classes. Since I’m familiar with art, it was extra fun for me to receive a glimpse into the art world. You could tell the author went to art school at some point in her life.

I even appreciated Karou’s ex-boyfriend, Kazmir, a street actor who plays a vampire.

There was one major thing I didn’t like. Near the end of the book, the story pauses for several chapters during a backstory dump. And then the story picks up again for a quick wrap-up before a cliffhanger ending.

Because of this, it felt like there were two stories in one. Since I was completely invested in Karou, I didn’t love this time-out on her story. But, in order to understand the secret of Karou’s past, we need the backstory. I’m not sure if there was another way to give us the information without spoiling the secret, but I really wish there was.

This backstory dump is also when I became invested in Akiva. Until then, I wasn’t his biggest fan, thinking him a troubled jerk. I also wish there was another way to get us on his side besides the backstory. Many other reviewers disagree with me and think him well-rounded and well written.

However, I will still be reading the next book and dearly hope Zuzana, Karou’s BFF, will be making another appearance.

Onto the giveaway: Congratulations to jmledwellwrites!

It occurred to me several of you may not know what the straight-from-the-tube ultramarine blue hair Karou rocks looks like.

And I happen to have several tubes of ultramarine blue paint. So I painted this Karou-inspired little square in watercolor (it’s more like 3.75 by 5.5 inches and is unmatted/unframed to make it easier to mail) and would love to give it away.

KarouThe rules?

  • The contest is open internationally.
  • The contest opens November 4th.
  • The last day to enter is November 10th.
  • Post a comment to enter 🙂 (WordPress captures your email when you do, so I have a way to contact you if you win.) If you feel like commenting on another post, go ahead. Might want to mention the giveaway in your comment…
  • Ways to earn brownie points (though not necessary for entry): follow @abbyjreed or @lainitaylor on Twitter. You can also like Abby J Reed or Laini Taylor on Facebook. Then mention you did so in your comment.

Good luck!

Check out Taylor’s blog here.
Follow Taylor on Twitter here.
Like Taylor on Facebook here.

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