This is one of the YA books that's really just not inviting adults to read. It's firmly entrenched in the romantic interests and emotional maturity of adolescents, and it's a very good bet (especially considering its popularity and acclaim) for them. And while I can't connect emotionally, I can understand the appeal of the characters and I can appreciate the deftness of the plotting. That said, I do find a few aspects of the storyline pretty troubling, and parents considering this book for their teens should be aware of them (at least to talk to them about).
While Karou is the kind of creative, motivated, powerful, socially-connected heroin that Bella Swan (sorry) looks at from a distance with mopey envy (sorry), this is still a love story that starts with a young woman being enchanted by the beauty of a (much) older man, who himself initiates the relationship by stalking her, and who fall in love with each other without getting to know each other. The Twilight parallels do more or less end there, but it remains troubling that the rest of their relationship starts with intense physical violence. All of this is the obvious stuff, though. More troubling, because it flies so much further under the radar, is how easily the male characters in the story manipulate Karou's identity, and take away her ability to self-determine. Specifically, I want to mention Akiva. Karou's backstory is that she's a "reincarnation" (of sorts) of Akiva's former lover (Madrigal), but most of Madrigal's personality has been locked away in a talisman. So, for 16 or so years, this personality, this identity we know as the young woman named Karou has been developing independent of Madrigal, and even though she did begin her life as an aspect of Madrigal, she's fully differentiated by the time we meet her. She's her own person. Akiva manages to divine her history, though, and breaks down one day telling her, "I know who you are!" "Tell me who I am," she demands. Good. She should be able to demand this information. This is where it goes wrong, though. Rather than telling her about Madrigal (you know, like, actually talking about stuff) and allowing Karou to choose for herself whether or not to integrate Madrigal's personality into her own (a decision she surely deserves to be able to make), Akiva literally says, "I'm not going to tell you." And he doesn't. He shows her, by breaking the talisman (she still does not know what it is) and forcing Madgrigal fully into Karou's body. This is an extraordinary violation of Karou's mind and body, and it's a decision made for her without giving her of the information she needs to provide informed consent. It's a man telling a woman that he knows who she is more than she does, and then forcing his interpretation of her character on her. This is something that, if your teens are reading the books, you NEED to speak with them about.
Now, having not read the other two books in the series, I do not know whether or not Taylor has addressed these issues in the text. It could very well be that she's introducing problems like these so that she can resolve them later. I certainly hope so.
I don't see any reason why I would not read anything by Laini Taylor again. If I see a Taylor work that's couched in more adult sensibilities, I could easily imagine enjoying it rather a lot.
I gave the performance for this book a low grade, but I don't think that should necessarily be taken as a sign that I dislike Khristine Hvam as a narrator. This particular performance suffered mostly from the cloying "monstrous" voices of several prominent monster-y characters, decrepit fallen angel Razgut being the prime example. The choice to perform these characters like this even makes sense in context, but it's just not enjoyable to sit through the drawn out, slimy, throaty tones. When performing Karou or Akiva or Zuzana, Hvam's performance is light and animated and often a joy, and I would be more than happy to listen to more of THAT from her.
While I did not love this book, and have a few serious concerns about how the main relationship develops, it has plenty to recommend it -- which I do hope its acclaim speaks to. I already talked about Karou, romantic choices aside, as a really positive young female protagonist. It's refreshing to see a character like that who actually loves her family, who actually trusts her friends, who actually wants things for herself that make sense. The mythology is interesting. The plotting, at least until we get to Madrigal, is crisp and clever. There are plenty of things to enjoy, if you don't mind that the book appeals mostly to the emotional maturity of teens, and doesn't throw many emotional bones to the rest of us.
I have read all three books and found after reading each one I could not wait for the next. I even feel like there should be a 4th book just to satisfy my addiction to every character in this book.
The narrator met all my expectations and she made each character come alive with their own voices and personality.
Among my top favorites.
I always have the same issue with this question. How do I say this without spoilers? Well let's just say, the part where Akiva realizes who Karou is.
No. But I was very impressed with her work. She's among the best I've heard. Her narration helps to flesh out the characters and to get an accurate feel of the story.
Love will save you
This book is top notch. The writing is a cut above the rest. The characters are well thought out, they are complex and endearing. And the romance? Lord have mercy on my swooning soul! It's genuine, unique, heartbreaking, need I go on? I will say though, the only thing I wasn't ecstatic about was that Karou was physically too perfect, too beautiful. However, the author manages to make Karou a character that you care for and root for, in spite of her 'perfection', unlike so many other authors, that make me roll my eyes and want to punch their heroines in their stupid faces.
I did not read the print version but as a person that prefers print over audio I loved this audio book. Normally I get easily distracted with audio book or start tuning the narrator out and think of other things but this one kept me well entertained.
Zuzana. She was really brought to life by Khristine Hvam. I am not sure if she would be my favorite if I had just read her in the book.
I haven't but have already purchased the rest of this series and would definitely pick her books on my wishlist first over others since I will most likely have a good experience.
Yes, I was unable to hear it in one sitting and it was hard to wait for the next time I could get back into it.
I am really not an audio book person to be honest and only do audiobooks since I can listen to them at work. Usually I don't get really involved and it's going on in the background while I go about my business. This book was different and interesting and the narrator was definitely not boring. She had the best accents and voices for the characters and the men in the story did not sound lame. Sorry but some audio books narrated by women make the men sound so annoying it turns me off of the character. Same goes with male narrators voicing a women protagonist. Khristine was perfect though, I can't wait for book 2.
I prefer urban/para romance right now for the fantasy aspect, but I listen to other genres as well.
I passed on this for so long and now I am kicking myself. This book is awesome! Its uniqueness blew me away. Its getting so hard to find things that are truly unique anymore. Not that I mind my traditional urban/para books, but its refreshing to hear something completely new.
I can't think of anything else like it and that is a good thing.
Let's just say things got a little bit itchy.
Actually, for the first time in awhile with a new book, yes.
I am SO bummed this is only a trilogy. I love the world and the characters. I guess too much of a good thing is bad, but I love this, and wish it could stay longer than 3 books.
I have not read the print version, but I would definitely purchase it just to have this book and it's companions in my personal library.
I love they way Laini wrote this story...it was like nothing I have ever read and was not what I was expecting. I love the witty humor and tender sweetness between the characters. I love the world that she created and how she combined both mythical and mundane pasts and present. It was fantastic!
no, it stopped being fun when the love interest showed up. the heroin basically turned into a bella swan at that point. it was so much fun up until then.
The story was good, i liked many of the characters. the protagonist wasn't a total stereotype, just most of one. i did enjoy alot of the other cast, had to stop reading when her "true love" showed up.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone was very much like any young teenager book that deals with couples who are 'fated' to be together in all of their lifetimes. I didn't feel that this take on the story was very original in terms of how the two people are in their past life and in their current lives. Their interactions are angst ridden and very clearly meant to mimic that of teenagers.
I felt that the reader was fabulous. While I didn't like the writer's story, the readers expression matched the plot lines and words well and with incredible feeling which is important for the story.
A wannabe riot.
This is one of the best books I've read (er...listened to) in a while. Quirky-yet-not-stereotypical heroine, supernatural creatures (including angels, which are always a favorite), magical elements, amazing world building (with the bonus of centering around Prague, which led to awesome accents on the audiobook!) - I could go on. I was captivated from the beginning, finding out about Karou and her mysterious past, as she finds out herself, as well as discovering how magic works in this world. Though some things are initially confusing and others left unexplained, I was captivated enough to immediately purchase the second one and pre-order the third (out next week). I cannot wait to see where this story goes and hope the other books live up to the expectations I've gained from this one!
(Audiobook specific: Hvam is one of the best narrators I've listened to on Audible and may have slightly increased my rating of the book; I am actually scoping out other books she's narrated to listen to more of her work!)
For the first half of the book we are shown an amazing world with a creative magic system and interesting characters. You spend most of that wondering if our main character really is a good guy or a bad guy. Then the angel comes in and its whining and wishing and longing to be together but stay apart. "I love you but I don't know why and I shouldn't". This alone is not enough to hate the book but for the entire second half nothing really happens and majority of the time it is just them boringly talking about how they want to be together...but cant.
The world really had me captured but unfortunately this author is nowhere near a romance writer.