Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Plot Summary:
Karou has no recollection of her past. She doesn't know who she is and has no idea how she inherited her special abilities. The only thing she does know is that she cannot tell anyone, even her best friend, that she has been raised by the very entities she draws: mythological creatures known as Chimera. Karou is currently an art student at one of the most prestigious academies in the Czech Republic. After breaking up with her two-timing boyfriend, Karou spends most of her time focusing on her art and running errands for her guardian named Brimstone. Although Brimstone is Chimera, he is actually known as a Wishmonger who collects teeth to make wishes. The trouble with the teeth part is that Karou is actually responsible for retrieving those items using portals that take her "Elsewhere." Although she calls them "errands" most of us would call outlandish adventures that could easily cost her her life. Despite all of the excitement, Karou is starting to realize the loneliness that resides in her heart. After Kaz, all Karou wants is to be wanted and love, but with the recent events, the only beings she loves and cares about are in grave danger. Recently, black handprints have been appearing on all of the portals that Karou uses and they are put there by other worldly creatures who are bent on cleansing the Earth of Chimera. When Brimstone summons her, in desperation, Karou notices how worried he is because his supply of teeth has run dry. On her journey to meet an old acquaintance, who was banished from the shop, Karou runs into a beautiful creature with dark eyes filled with hate until he notices the tattoos on her palms. What is it about the pair of eyes on her hands that stopped the beautiful, angelic creature from killing her? Secondly, why are all the portals closed off and what has happened to Brimstone and the rest of her Chimera family? Rather than living the life Brimstone told her to live, Karou wants answers as to who she really is and why an angel would risk his immortal soul for her.

Critical Evaluation:
This story is probably one of the most epic romances I have read in a while and I am just in awe. Not only am I drawn to Karou and Akiva (as mythical beings), but their loneliness and their reunion is what pulls at my heart strings. Once readers start learning about the Angels and the Chimera, it starts to makes sense why this war exists. In other words, the Angels thought they were civilizing a species, but, in reality, they were enslaving and oppressing the Chimera, which ended up in a bloody Civil War. The funny thing is that Angels really believed they were doing good, but, they took for granted the fact that the Chimera never asked for any of it; thus, the mess that brought Madrigal and Akiva together. In relation to Karou, readers are definitely thrown for a loop when we learn that she may be a reincarnation of a Madrigal that saved Akiva from death, which may, or may not, please readers. Karou is a strong, young woman who has her own soul (and personality) so it's a little condescending to read that Akiva is only attracted to her because she happens to be Madrigal in another form. Although Karou/Madrigal are really the same person, she was reborn with the memories, but her way of thinking has changed immensely. Personally, I think Karou and Madrigal are two separate entities, but they both represent the Chimera that shows they are not vicious monsters and that human are more forgiving and compassionate than Angels. For example, Brimstone didn't have to raise Karou as his own, but he did because he does have the capability to love. More importantly, to be human is compassionate and knowing what's true and what's now (why else would she go looking for the family she still loves despite everything). The part that I find ironic is that both both of the main characters are not human, yet the possess the will and the want to be loved, accepted, and forgiven. In essence, the question the author poses is what really makes us human or inhuman? Both Karou and Akiva love being in our world because there is so much beauty and life; for Akiva, this world has hope, which, coincidentally, is the meaning of Karou's name. For Karou, she has her art, her best friend Zuzana, and she has her childhood among the Chimera. Honestly, there is a lot going on this story that is so incredibly deep that readers can't help but to devour the pages in one sitting. Laini Taylor is truly a gifted storyteller and I am looking forward to reading the next installments.

Information about the Author:
According to her blog:
I'm Laini Taylor.
I am a writer-artist-daydreamer-nerd-person,
and simultaneously a mom-wife-sister-daughter-person.
I can do a lot of things at once, like for example: I can sleep and dream and also lie very still,
all while also breathing and ever-so-slowly growing ten distinct toenails.
* * *
I write books for youngish people, 
but they can also be read and enjoyed by oldish people, aka grown-ups.
You know grown-ups? They tend to be a little bigger and hairier than kids.
But not always.
* * *
I live in Portland, Oregon, USA
with my husband Jim Di Bartolo, who is an amazing illustrator and who I'm
always begging to draw me things,
and with our wee droll genius, Clementine Pie.
* * *
Some of my favorite things are books and bookstores
and breakfast food and mangoes and chocolate,
and cake stands and table cloths and old houses,
and going places (like libraries and other countries),
and dreaming up stories,
and making stuff (like cupcakes or peculiar dolls),
and playing with Jim and Clementine,
and taking pictures,
and falling asleep (so cozy)
and waking up (exciting!).

Genre:
Teen Fantasy, Teen Supernatural Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Daughter of Smoke and Bone:

Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com
  •  YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults
  • A New York Times Notable Children's Book of the Year
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
  • A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
  • A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year
  • A Junior Library Guild Selection of the YearA Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Lush description of a gothic and ghostly Prague beckons readers from the first page and fulfills its promise, leading to a star-crossed romance that spans worlds and transcends death...[Leaves] the reader both satisfied and eagerly anticipating a forthcoming sequel."—The Horn Book, starred review

* "The suspense builds inexorably, and the philosophical as well as physical battles will hold action-oriented readers. The unfolding of character, place, and plot is smoothly intricate, and the conclusion is a beckoning door to the next volume."—School Library Journal, starred review

* "National Book Award finalist Taylor (Lips Touch: Three Times) again weaves a masterful mix of reality and fantasy with cross-genre appeal. Exquisitely written and beautifully paced, the tale is set in ghostly, romantic Prague, where 17-year-old Karou is an art student--except when she is called "home" to do errands for the family of loving, albeit inhuman, creatures who raised her. Mysterious as Karou seems to her friends, her life is equally mysterious to her: How did she come to live with chimaera? Why does paternal Brimstone eternally require teeth--especially human ones? And why is she "plagued by the notion that she wasn't whole....a sensation akin to having forgotten something?" Taylor interlaces cleverly droll depictions of contemporary teenage life with equally believable portrayals of terrifying otherworldly beings. When black handprints begin appearing on doorways throughout the world, Karou is swept into the ancient deadly rivalry between devils and angels and gradually, painfully, acquires her longed-for self-knowledge. The book's final pages seemingly establish the triumph of true love--until a horrifying revelation sets the stage for a second book."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Rarely--perhaps not since the author's own Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer (2007)--does a series kick off so deliciously."—Kirkus, starred review

* "[A]long with writing in such heightened language that even casual banter often comes off as wildly funny, the author crafts a fierce heroine with bright-blue hair, tattoos, martial skills, a growing attachment to a preternaturally hunky but not entirely sane warrior and, in episodes to come, an army of killer angels to confront. Rarely--perhaps not since the author's own Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer (2007)--does a series kick off so deliciously."—Kirkus, starred review

* "Taylor crafts both her world and her romance with meticulous care, building the first on a wealth of thought-provoking details and making the second equal parts tender and antagonistic...Fans of torturously star-crossed lovers a la those in Marr's Wicked Lovely and Black's Tithe will find much to enjoy here, but those who flock to innovative, character-driven fantasy with thematic depth will be equally enthralled."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review

"[A] breath-catching romantic fantasy about destiny, hope and the search for one's true self"—The New York Times Book Review

"An adventurous story of self-identity, "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is written with high-stakes flair and a touch of humor...[It is] well-told and well-paced, raising intriguing questions about notions of identity, expectation, trust, betrayal and belonging."—The Los Angeles Times

"Author Taylor has created a variety of worlds, time frames, and creatures with such detail and craft that all are believable...Readers will look forward to the suggested sequel to this complex, exciting tale."—Booklist

* "Lush description of a gothic and ghostly Prague beckons readers from the first page and fulfills its promise, leading to a star-crossed romance that spans worlds and transcends death...[Leaves] the reader both satisfied and eagerly anticipating a forthcoming sequel."—The Horn Book (starred review)

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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