Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review - Laini Taylor's Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Book 3) by Laini Taylor
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 8th, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 624 Pages
Rating: ★★
To Buy

The war between the Seraphim and the Chimera has come to Earth. Cunningly arriving in a guise to lull humanity into submission Karou and Akiva know that their only chance to succeed against these "angels" led by Jael is to return to Eretz and convince the Misbegotten Seraphim to ally themselves with the few remaining Chimera in an attempt to destroy Jael and bring peace to the two worlds. The fact that Jael brings a warning to the Vatican of the "beasts" and "monsters" that have been warring with them makes it even more imperative that the outcasts lead by Karou abandon the hideout in Morroco, which is soon found and studiously dissected by scientists, and escape through the tear in the dimensions. But aligning the previously combative forces looks like it might be harder then Karou and Akiva thought. If they can't pull off a compromise how will they destroy Jael and get a chance at making a future together? Going against their natures a plan is hatched that will at least save Earth and lure the fight back to the one dimension. Hopefully they can defeat the enemy on the land that has been soaked with their blood for many a year, if not, at least they have saved Earth. Yet their destinies might already be written in the stars.

What the godstars was that? In all seriousness, there is always a problem with final books in a series that have been predominately about the battle of good versus evil. Because the final installment will always be the final showdown. I don't really want to read about battles, which is the fatal flaw in The Hunger Games series when Mockingjay basically became a post apocalyptic version of The Hurt Locker. Dreams of Gods and Monsters nicely sidesteps this by focusing on the main characters who are peripheral to the battles because they are involved in other schemes, but quickly falls of a cliff. You really need to watch your footing in perilous denouements, a cliff or quicksand could be there waiting to smother all your hopes for a satisfying conclusion. The fact that, while sometimes rambling, I liked where the book was going until about the last thirty pages makes the ending even more of a betrayal. Yes, you can't make everyone happy, I get that, but still, I was hoping for something more.

Because my issues with this final book occur in the final pages I don't think that my talking about spoilers will be that surprising, because my need for discourse with my issues is greater then my need for silence, but I will therefore just warn you that spoilers are ahead. So you have been warned. Spoilers. So you're not reading anymore unless you want to know why I was so disappointed? Good. I shall continue my rant. The last few chapters don't give us a denouement they give us a beginning. Instead of being successful, reaching the end of their battles, and getting a happily ever after, we get this amorphous ending that is both unsatisfying and puzzling. Yes life is complicated, yes endings aren't necessarily tied up with a bow, but that doesn't mean you introduce tons of new stuff that no one gets, not even the characters, with twenty pages left and call it a day. I cry FOWL! As an author the worst thing you can do is give us a beginning instead of an ending. There's different kinds of endings, you can have some lack of closure, you can make it not happy for everyone, but you can't give us something that doesn't even make sense to the characters in the book. I was left wondering if there is going to be a spin off series, like many YA series are doing now, because this isn't an ending. I don't know how many times I can say this in regard to this book. Starting something new and different without giving closure first makes me want to burn this book a little.

Ok, let me break it down more. Akiva's people, the Stelians, they've always been mysterious and doing whatever they do, so it does make sense that they finally arrive and explain to Akiva that he needs some training, whatever, I'm cool with this. But then to have this mystic vision wherein this outside force, a force we've just learned of fairly recently in this book, will be defeated by everyone in the room becoming gods, aka the godstars? Gorram it, what the hell is this about? And trust me, Karou and Akiva and just as mystified as you and me! It's like the book became an entirely different book. The humor goes away and we are left with this idea that somehow they will all become stars? What, like at the end of Stardust where when they die they become stars? But that doesn't seem to be what this book is saying. They have a big battle ahead, a battle we don't understand or know about, but it's coming, here's a tacky epilogue with the characters still not knowing what's going on but at least Karou and Akiva get some action in some semblance of a happily ever after. How could this satiate anyone?

This also negates the wonderful worldbuilding that this series was known for up until this point which still has many previous questions unanswered. By adding in this unnecessary and convoluted worldbuilding with the Stelians and their weird dimension punching more questions are asked rather then answered. It is almost like Laini Taylor was going, "Oh shit, I forgot everything about Akiva and his people, what do I do?" Followed by a glut of information that will lead to a WTF reveal with an ending that no one, not even the characters get. I seriously cannot state it enough. The characters don't know what's going on so how can I!?! But the most annoying fact is, until the Stelians take Akiva down into that little cave, Laini had set up the perfect ending. Everyone was where I thought they should be. Even Liraz and Ziri were perfect, and of course Zuzana and Mik were more then perfect, and then vomit. I was hoping for them rebuilding their world, bringing their people together, learning more about how exactly the magic works, not getting ready for some big battle that I couldn't care less about because I just learned about it. This series connected with me, even if I never really liked Akiva and had some issues, but the fact that Laini made me even care about characters that I don't really like I felt they deserved more then this. And it's not that I deserved more, it was ok if unsatisfying, I just felt that these characters I have loved so much were just worthy of so much more, and not becoming some nebulous gods in some epic battle for the worlds.


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