YA but not YA at the same time. A wonderful mix of high fantasy and urban fantasy in the same vein as His Dark Materials, but with a romantic subplot that would make Shakespeare proud. Not yet madly in love with it, but very much looking forward to book 2!
I saw so many good reviews for this and I generally like YA books (I'm 33), but this was just too hard to swallow. It was really cheesy and drawn out. I liked some elements of the story so that made it fun to listen to still, and if they were free I would probably finish the series, but they aren't good enough for me to want to spend a credit on them.
This review is based on the category of YA Paranormal Romance: 5 stars
If you're looking for a YA-read-that-appeals-to-wide-audience series like Hunger Games or Divergent, this is not that series. The "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" series is firmly in the Young Adult paranormal ROMANCE category. In other words, if you're a guy of any age just stay away.
Karou's life has always been a deliciously mystical swirl flowing between the human world and her hidden family of human/beast chimaera living in an extra-dimensional shop that is accessible only through a world-wide series of portals. As Karou reaches late teens, her chimaera family allows her to move from the shop to Prague - the city of her choice - in lush beauty and potential experiences. Karou periodically portal-hops back to her chimaera shop/home, then out to the world, whether running errands for her chimaera "father" Brimstone, being trained by the best martial art instructors, or soaking up life in exotic locations. And bonus...! Any of her life's smaller frustrations can be wished away... with *real* wishes given to her by Brimstone. When she isn't portal-hopping, she goes to class, works as a vampire and hangs out with Zuzana, the coolest side-kick ever. Life is good, and the worst she has to worry about is a cheating, manipulative boyfriend. Then, during one of her errands for Brimstone she almost gets killed by an angel... and her life goes to hell.
Laini Taylor's world-building is creative and fairly unique, although the romantic plot-line is a little tired at times. Taylor reworks the Romeo/Juliet theme to a fairly good advantage, with some scenes predictable and other scenes surprising. Two elements make this series stand out in the flooded YA market: 1) any description or dialog by Zuzana; 2) the interactions between Zuzana, Mik and the whole rest of the cast of characters. Zuzana and Mik are animated with a joy that propels the whole series to a different level.
I've both read and listened to the whole series and I strongly recommend you listen to the full Audible version as well as reading the paper or Kindle version. Kristine Hvam captures Zuzana and other characters with the perfect tone. Either way, I laughed out loud almost every time Zuzana had any dialog. NOTE: DON'T use Whispersync to listen/read --- that's where you download audio directly into the Kindle app and listen from there. That method leaves out a good chunk of dialog. Instead, download audio into the Audible app or some other media app.
I really enjoyed this book, although I wish Taylor had focused less on the romance and more on the intriguing plot. I recommend this for any female paranormal/romance reader above 14-ish, with the comment that there is some violence in this book, and the 2nd and 3rd books get much darker. Also, please read "Cake and Puppets" novella after you finish this one! It was completely charming. I cautiously recommended this book to my husband, ONLY because I knew he'd love the Zuzana character. He's struggling to get through the romantic high-schooly bits, but he's thoroughly enjoying Zuzana and Mik -- enough to get through this first book, at least!
This is an interesting story, well developed if a bit heavy at times. This first volume sets up what looks to be a star-crossed love story with a fantastical war in a parallel world as its backdrop. There aren't a lot of surprises, but the characters are interesting and it's engaging to watch the details unfold. The author lays it on a bit thick a bit too often, though. The reader does an excellent job, particularly in bringing to light the side-kick/best-friend character who both brightens and lightens the atmosphere.
Narrators can make a dull book passable or turn a decent book into a nightmare. This book has too notch narration, making an already superb book, phenomenal.
This is the best start to a series I've encountered in a long long time. It's unique and interesting. The premise is a little hard to wrap your head around at first, but once you immerse yourself in the story it's phenomenal.
I love Karou and Zuzana
The accents are great and the storytelling is engaging.
First of all, the narrator is superb. I tend to follow narrators, listening to everything within my genres of interest. I would listen to anything Khristine Hvam did.
I was a little worried at first because I'm not much of a young adult book reader, and thought this would be a little youthful for my tastes, and boy was I wrong. I ate the book hungrily, and then came back and bought the other two before I was even finished with the first - I didn't want any break between books!
This is one of those stories that makes you wish there was more....give me more! This was superbly written. I'm off now to see what else Laini Taylor has written.
The novel is well written, loved the concept of the story and I really liked the romance between the angel and karue. I understand fully the two worlds and I think that the story is unique. would recommend.