Daughter of Smoke and Bone

By Laini Taylor

Daughter_of_Smoke_and_Bone This is a little embarrassing. Kinsey has recommended this book multiple times on this blog, and even gave me a copy, but it took me three tries to get through it. It is actually very good, but it starts with some of the most Mary Sue you’ve ever read. Our heroine, Karou:

  • Is 5’ 6” but seems taller because of her willowy ballerina’s build, with slender neck and long limbs
  • Has long hair that grows out of her head a bright blue
  • Has a gorgeous, older ex-boyfriend, who wants to get back together and over whom all the other girls sigh
  • Attends a high school for the arts in Prague, where she paints such imaginative images that all of the other students gather around each morning to see her daily sketchbook

Multiple times, I gave up in the face of such blinding impressiveness right off the bat. I couldn’t imagine what else the author had left to unveil down the road, and I wasn’t sure what she could do to make me actually like Karou. It turned out that her being attacked by a killer angel did the trick!

So, once I got over sulking over the heroine, I was intrigued by the very unusual hidden world that slowly reveals itself over the course of the book. And while I stayed a little aloof from Karou herself, I was charmed by the wide variety of other characters. For people who don’t have as big an issue with Mary Sue-ism as I do, I can unreservably recommend this book; for those that do, I still recommend the book, actually – I did eventually enjoy the whole story, though sort of grudgingly throughout, and I admit that was entirely due to personal bias.


Books You Already Knew I Was Going To Tell You To Read

I was on the road quite a bit in December and read a whole pile of books I enjoyed. But none of them quite seemed to warrant their own review, since none of them are going to come as a surprise to anyone who’s spent any time here. So a list seems appropriate, so I get to mention a few things that I heartily, if predictably, recommend:

1) Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I saw Rainbow Rowell speak in person earlier this fall, and that woman is made up entirely of curly hair and charisma, and the stories she told about writing this book had the audience literally screaming with laughter. This is no Eleanor and Park, but I’m not sure my heart could handle another one of those, so this story about a marriage and a magic telephone will do just fine.

2) Dreams of God and Monsters by Laini Taylor. Quite a while back on the blog I mentioned the first book in this trilogy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. That book was your fairly standard YA, magical realism, independent female narrator, star-crossed lover sort of story. And then book two, man, book two took a turn. It got dark and weird and tragic and bloody, and I actually put off starting the third one for months because I was scared of where things might go. But I ended up really liking how the story resolved, and I promise you, you have not read anything like this.

3) One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. I’ve already raved about Me Before You and The Girl You Left Behind, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that Moyes’s latest was equally heart lifting/breaking. (Note, because I know my readers: don’t worry too much about the dog. It will work out.)

4) The Secret Place by Tana French. This wasn’t my favorite of the Dublin Murder Squad novels–that would be The Likeness–but it was a compelling read. While the plot and mystery of this one didn’t grab me the way some of them have, it still delivered on the two things I think Tana French does best–unsympathetic but fascinating characters, and a romance-free vision of modern-day Ireland.