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Intended Age-Group: 16+
Issues of Violence: fantasy violence, war violence
Intimacy Level: A lot of kissing. Mentioned sex out of wedlock. Passion.
Language: h*ll, sh*t, b*st*rd, d*mn, b*tch,Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Back Cover Blurb:
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 grow dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly 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 hair actually 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 one of the strangers -- beautiful, haunted Akiva -- fixes his fire-colored 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?
Initial Reaction: *****
Let me set the scene:
I'd purchased two different books from Barnes and Noble, read them, hated them, and returned them. Each time I did this, I ended up having the same cashier and she finally said, "Having a hard time finding something you like?"
"Yes!" I groaned.
Then she drilled me. "What's your favorite movie?" "What do you like to read?" "Favorite Genre?" Etc. The end result was this book recommendation. I was pretty impressed with her because Daughter of Smoke & Bone did end up having many of the things I love -- a deep culture, rich writing, unique concept, and more.
The World: *****
I liked the culture, even though it is a very fantastical view on angels and demons (referred to as seraphs and chimaera in this book.) The writing is rich in descriptions and unique wording -- the type of writing that makes me want to go write better. :)
Karou (main character) works for a wishmonger -- he creates wishes of various strength and Karou's greatest desire is to earn a bigger wish that would allow her to do something magnificent like fly or turn invisible.
If you've talked to me at all, you'll know that I roll my eyes at most romance. Don't get me wrong, I like a good fall-in-love story just like the next girl, but I generally like it to be believable. In this book, the "insta-love" between Karou and Akiva was just...sappy. Too sappy for me, especially because when it happens Karou is on a mission to save her dearest friends and family from certain death. And she just lets herself get distracted by this guy who tried to kill her at one point and now "watches her" because he's "in love" (Warning! Stalker! Warning!)
In the story's defense, the writing alludes to a mysterious past between these two characters that neither of them can seem to put together. But even with a mysterious past, even if they were in love in some other life, it wasn't enough to convince me that Karou would "forget" about her family and just fall in love with this stalker-like warrior guy.
Which brings me to another point: when we first meet Akiva, he is E-M-O-T-I-O-N-L-E-S-S. I mean dead eyes, no heart, utterly and impenetrably emotionless. It's cool. The author delivered this aspect of his character perfectly and it made him stand out. It made me intrigued. But then, all he had to do was look at the blue-haired human girl and poof! suddenly he's your every-day paranormal sappy stalker-lover. (Edward Cullen, anyone?)
Right about when I was completely sick of the insta-love, then we're hit with a flashback of sorts. We enter the story of an alluded to character named Madrigal
...her story is one of the strongest parts of this book.
In a mere sliver of pages, the author introduces a plot, a freaky villain (THIAGO! AHHH!), and a very convincing, realistic romance. It was delightful and it then made Karou just pale in comparison once we had to return to her point-of-view.
Now, as with any good book, there are huge plot twists that the reader tends to put together before they even happen. I won't reveal any in here, but I will say that the book lost me 3/4 of the way through, but snagged be again with Madrigal's story...enough to push me toward book two.
Spiritual Content: *****
Well, it's a story about angels and demons when you really break it down and...it complete fantasy. It has no spiritual merit and there are no messages one way or another. There are the myths on how the seraphs and chimaera came to be -- both of which are slightly disturbing. I can't say I liked the new take on Biblical truths, but when viewed as pure paranormal fiction, it's your every-day YA book.
Profanity, Violence, and That Other Stuff:
I'll keep it short:
40+ instances of casual swearing (aka: the way teens talk today)
Lots of references to sex, implied repeated sex between two lovers, etc. But there are no actual "scenes." Frequent kissing.
Typical violence (it's a war between seraphs and chimaera, what did you expect?) but nothing graphic.
There's not enough of this to bother me, but it'd be enough to keep me from recommending it to a young teen. Still, everyone has their own levels of tolerance which is why I include these details.
I really enjoyed about 70% of this book -- enough to give it four stars. I'll be reading book two and I'll let you know if I continue on to book three. ;)
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