Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review 2012 #2 - Laini Taylor's Days of Blood and Starlight

Days of Blood and Starlight, Daughter of Smoke and Bone Book 2 by Laini Taylor
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: November 6th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 528 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war. This is not that world."

Karou's homeland has been destroyed. The man she loved in another life, in another body, destroyed it because of her death. Akiva never thought, never even dared to hope that he would one day be with her again. His destruction of her people has sealed his fate and his chance at happiness. A happiness he never expected is lost yet again to him by his own hands. The monsters have all been destroyed by the Seraphim. There are only a few holdouts of Chimera hidden here and there in Eretz, and the Seraphim are flushing them out.

Yet there is hope... Karou. Her name literally means hope. Little did she realize that in spending two lives in the company of Brimstone she has been able to learn the art of resurrection, the secret to the Chimera's ability to thwart the enemy. Of course helping the Chimera means she must ally herself with the man who was her intended, Thiago. Oh, and he is the one who happened to have her executed the first time around. Going by the theory the enemy of my enemy is my friend, she agrees to be Thiago's resurrectionist, in the hope that this will save her people by creating a rebel band of Chimera.

But will a band of rebels be able to thwart the might of the empire? Or is it in Akiva and Karou's old dream of creating a new world that a future for Eretz might be found? Either way, the Seraphim and the Chimera must come together, must be willing to see past the war that has consumed their lives, or in the case of the Chimera, multiple lives, and look to what comes next.

For some time now I have had several friends who where verging on the insistence level of drug pushers to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I mean, every single time I talked to or emailed them, it would end with, "by the way... have you read it yet?" The day the second book came out the amount of texts I got might have been able to crash my data plan. Needless to say, as soon as I had the time I agreed I would finally read it. After the harsh semester of school I had I spent quite literally all of December sick and under a blanket somewhere. Now the "best" part about being sick is that you are literally incapable of doing anything other than lounging... which means reading! Ah December... I might not have been able to speak without hacking up a lung, but you passed in a haze of crisp fonts and snowy white pages. I devoured Daughter of Smoke and Bone quite quickly. I was intrigued by the world. There where things I loved, and there where things I raised my eyebrows at, angels, really? But I was sold enough to need to pick up the next volume immediately... or in this case, send someone forth to get me said volume because you aren't allowed to drive a car when on a codeine based cough syrup.

What the first book hadn't prepared me for was the awesomeness of the second book. By reading blurbs and snatches of reviews the second book seemed to veer very much into the war of otherworldy creatures category with Karou playing Frankenstein... which seemed, well, I'll say it, I thought it would be lame. I thought taking Karou out of this wonderful little world she lived in in Prague with her lovely diminutive if occasionally violent friend Zuzana was a mistake. No more sketchbooks and art school and evil exes. It was rewriting everything the first book was and giving us a map of another world. Side note, I usually love books with maps of other worlds, I just wasn't expecting this series to go that way. I think that's why I loved Days of Blood and Starlight, it went where I didn't think it would go and brought me along for an amazing ride, thankfully I didn't have to be in a beat up truck in Morocco for real.

Yet it is the believability of the world building that has made the narrative work. Laini has created a beautiful and brutal world, but it has humor in it. The surest way to get complicity is to make someone laugh. Zuzana was my entry into this world of monsters. She was so funny and her connection to Karou made a character who might not be completely relatable, I mean Karou is a monster resurrected into the body of a blue haired teenager with amazing drawing skills, real and likable. Their quippy emails and how Monty Python is used to bring levity yet also hint at the truths behind the words made me love this book all the more. Add in magic, a trio of mismatched angels, a mysterious island and some very wicked Guerilla tactics,  and I am not only beyond excited for the next installment, I want it now!


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