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Life, Law & Libros

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (2 stars)

I've seen so many people gush about Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone series. I went in hoping to feel the same. It is different, it is strange, and, despite speeding through it, it did not work for me. It would have been a 1-star had I cared a little more about the characters and story. While I wished certain characters dead at times, I felt fairly apathetic at book's end, so 2 stars it is.

This copy was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on September 27, 2011
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Final Rating: 2 stars

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 hairactually 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?

What I liked:
  • Prague. I definitely want to visit there someday.
  • It was a little different from the usual "girl from another world." Still walking through a door to Narnia, but this time the wardrobe has a separate "world" of its own.
  • The writing/characters/story weren't bad, and I can see why a lot of people enjoy the book. It just didn't really draw me in or work for me.

What I didn't like:
  • Karou. It's a pet peeve, but she has too much "special-ness," even at the start, and way too much at the end. I was also disappointed to find that, despite all these experiences and all this knowledge that, theoretically, would give her a different perspective on life, she's a completely typical, selfish, self-centered, bratty, vindictive, manipulative, rash, impulsive teenager. Which makes it odd that Akiva "loves" her. And every time she seems to be growing as a character, in the next scene she slides back.
  • Akiva. Again, too much special-ness, especially at the end once we have the full story. I also got sick of the harping on how beautiful he was. And his reasons for not killing Karou, his "protective-ness," then his breaking down and crying? Loss of man card.
  • The plot skips/skims over Karou's exciting "errands" and instead spends time and detail on little high school moments. I think I understand the intent, but I wanted closer looks at the strange and less of the mundane.
  • A giant flashback takes up the last quarter of the book. I'm still not sure I like its placement, especially since the "end" following it feels rushed, not to mention unfinished. Moreover, the flashback is like a novella, and there is so much detail- and not details I cared about. I felt suffocated by descriptions of clothes and Thiago's body. Seriously? This, combined with the insta-love and generally foolish decisions, destroyed any sympathy I might have felt for the flashback characters. The only part of the flashback I cared about was the magic system reveal.
  • Once I knew the whole of it, the magic left a sour taste in my mouth. I'm not sure why, but I can understand why Brimstone hated his job.
  • If you can enter another world, why didn't you do something with it? Become refugees in the other world where your magic will shield you? Start a new Dinotopia island? Is this like MIB? Are there other worlds you can travel to for the tooth trade? Could you emigrate to them? Maybe future books explain more about the worlds and world travel, but this one had me wondering.

Final Thoughts:
To be fair, I can see the elements that many readers love in this book. If you like romance with a touch of paranormal/supernatural fantasy, you'll probably love this story.


  1. Oh no! D: I'm sorry that you didn't like this one more! I remember when I read it, I LOVED it. Of course, that was three years ago. But I still remember loving it. I haven't read books two or three yet (I knew the wait between books two and three would be long), but I hear that book three is EMOTION-INVOKING. Therefore, I will approach the second and third books with caution... if you read them, I hope you enjoy them more than you enjoyed this book, Kel! Fantastic review :)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. No need to be sorry. :) I've read a few reviews on book 3 and they have definitely been emotional. I hope you love them as much as the first!