I can’t even describe all the hype that surrounds Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It was almost on every book bloggers’ list of Top 10 books for 2011. I constantly saw people recommending it online. I held out on it because I think hype distorts your expectations. So I went to the bookstore recently to pick it up and the cashier started hardcore gushing on how fabulous this book is. I’m just thinking, “Well, forget about avoiding the hype.” Anyway, the cashier got me pretty excited; hence I started reading it immediately. After reading it, I get the hype. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is incredibly well-written and unique, but, personally, I still felt a twinge unsatisfied with it.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone follows Karou, a teenager attending school in Prague. Karou loves to sketch the most interesting beings, mostly chimaeras. Everyone at her school is fascinated by her drawings and imagination. However, the beings in her drawings aren’t from her imagination. They are real. In fact, they raised Karou and are her only family. They live in Elsewhere, another dimension of the universe, and Karou can visit them by entering through portal doors, that happen to be established in every city worldwide. Now that she’s a little older, Brimstone, the closest person she can call as a father-figure, sends her on missions to collect teeth. Yes, teeth. Brimstone never explained why he collects teeth; all Karou knows is that he needs it. After an almost lethal encounter with the angel, Akiva, Karou is even more confused about what is going on between the chimaeras and angels. It’s when every portal to elsewhere gets burned down by the angels, that Karou makes it her mission to find a way back to Elsewhere and her family.
Once I began reading, it was hard not to become immediately immersed. The setting of Prague and the author’s wonderful style of writing draw you in, and it’s already magical before the magic actually shows up. The first half of the book is particularly mesmerizing, and I love all the characters, especially Karou, her best friend, Zuzana, and her chimaera family. However, I felt the book started to digress a little when the love story started to come into full play. Naturally, Akiva and Karou are enemies, but they have this irresistible urge to be with each other. While I think that they had good chemistry, I was really more invested in Karou finding Brimstone and her family. Her love and search for them really drove the story home for me; I got a little restless with the romance stuff after a while. But it wasn’t enough to disinterest completely because I do love a good love story.
I’m going to issue a **SPOILER ALERT** mainly because my biggest issue with the book is one of the big revelations at the end. Now, I really loved Karou. As a main character, I just thought she was great, and I know that she was always feeling that there was an emptiness inside her. Yet, I didn’t like how she turned out to be Madrigal. I felt this connection to Karou that I didn’t feel when I read about Madrigal. Don’t get me wrong, I like Madrigal, but I just wanted Karou to be her own person, I guess. Hence, that whole revelation was a bit of a letdown. Plus, I’m totally heartbroken by Akiva’s revelation.
**SPOILER ALERT OVER**
Despite feeling somewhat dissatisfied with the end, I still think Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an excellent read. One of the most imaginative and well-written YA books I’ve encountered ever. I’m very much looking forward the Book 2 of the trilogy, which I believe comes out later this year.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is now in bookstores. You can purchase it at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (September 27, 2011)
Length: 432 pages
Series: Book 1 of 3
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Adventure
Completed: March 2012