Daughter of Smoke & Bone – Laini Taylor (Review)

**This review can also be found @ TeacherofYA’s Tumblr and TeacherofYA’s Blogspot**

Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Book One)

Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2011
Genre: YA Celestial Fantasy, YA Paranormal

My Review:

It’s easy to say you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy a book. I’ve been fortunate enough to be on a good book streak…and it’s probably because I’m reading books I’ve been dying to read for a long time, and are still popular enough to be checked out of the library and hard to obtain. I received this one by pure fate; I had abandoned the idea of ever reading this because it was impossible to find the first book in the series available. But one day, I walked in and it was there. And it was incredibly lucky that I found it, because I was starting to think it wasn’t meant to be.

I’m so glad I did find it, too. The book has elements of traditional YA fantasy in that there are “angels” and “demons,” good vs evil. But what Taylor does to make it wholly original is blur the lines between good and evil: are demons bad because they are demons? Are angels good because we believe they are G-d’s soldiers? The book makes you think: and it definitely has more twists and turns than many of the genre.

Karou, a 17 year old Prague art student, has a strange family. She sketches their pictures and classmates think she is just imaginative. Her hair is blue, but they believe it’s dyed that way. And the palm of her hands bear the eyes of hamsas, but they think they are simply interesting tattoos. Karou doesn’t lie, but the students and even her best friend think that she’s just whimsical and silly. But the truth is stranger than fiction: her family are chimeræ, monsters that are half man-half animal. Her hair is blue because she wished it to be. And her hamsas…well, she doesn’t know where they came from because she’s always had them.

On occasion Karou must run errands for Brimstone, the eccentric goat man that is a member of her foster family. He dispenses wishes to the desperate in exchange for teeth. There’s also three others that live in Brimstone’s shop, and only Karou is allowed in…because she was raised by them. One day, though, scorched handprints appear at the doorways to all the portals that open to Brimstone’s shop. Karou thinks nothing of it (mainly because she knows very little about Brimstone and the chimeræ), but when an angel starts following her and attacks her, she starts to wonder what is really going on with her foster monsters. And her biggest question that has haunted her all her life begins to beg an answer: who is Karou? Why is an angel following her? And what does Brimstone do with the teeth she brings him?

It’s a pretty trippy ride. And Karou’s life is a big blank for most of the book, but we get to go on the journey of self-discovery with her…and the answers we get are nothing we could possibly fathom. It definitely takes you by surprise.

Is is Classroom-Appropriate?

I’m having a hard time finding books that are usable in the classroom lately. This, sadly, is still not one of them. Though brilliant in its execution and plot, there are words right off the bat that are adult in their use; Brimstone tells Karou that she should keep her life free of “inessential penises” after she breaks up with her boyfriend. So right off the bat, there’s no way that the sexuality in the book is appropriate for a high school class setting. However, it’s filled with funny situations and wordplay, and it would definitely make a good read for recreational purposes.

Age Range:

This is a tough one. The conservative in me thinks 15 minimum. But the more relaxed part of me thinks that because it’s not explicit sex and just more allusions to the act, that the reader could be as young as 13 and still not get warped by the book. I have yet to read the next books in ten series, but they are en route from the library so it won’t be long. But to err on the side of caution, I would just average the age to 14 and say that’s the minimum (just to be safe).

End Result:

I can’t believe I’m giving another book five stars. ★★★★★! I must be just lucky, and I’ll get a horrible book next…Ugh. Taylor surprised me, and I look forward to seeing what happens to Karou and the chimeræ and Akiva. It has a cliffhanger ending. I won’t be satisfied until I know what is to become of my blue-haired heroine.

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12 thoughts on “Daughter of Smoke & Bone – Laini Taylor (Review)

  1. Great review for this book, you’ve definitely made me want to pick up this series again and re-read it from the beginning. Also I think if you like Daughter of Smoke and Bone then you’re going to LOVE the second and third books in the series, I thought they just got better and better.
    I remember the first time I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone thinking the same thing you did, how Taylor took a traditional cliche of angels and demons and twisted it into something new and unique. That was just one of the things I loved about this book! 😀

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I was pleasantly surprised…sometimes that devil/angel paradigm gets old. Taylor totally revamped it! I really like how the chimeræ are so heavily explained…it makes me want to learn more about those myths.
      It looks like we have a lot of books in common…are you a huge fan of YA as well? I prefer the sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian genres in YA. I don’t read a lot of contemporary. Also, I just got a copy of The Bone Witch, and that sounds pretty good. Have you heard of it?

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      1. That’s exactly what I thought before starting it as well, there are so many out there and sometimes it can be hard to deliver a fresh take on something but Laini Taylor did it amazingly! I really need to re-read the series again but honestly I can’t think of anything I didn’t love and that would definitely include the world building because that contributes to so much for me when it comes to books.
        Yeo massive fan of YA, especially fantasy but sci-fi and dystopian as well. Although a lot of books I pick up have a lot to do with the blurb/cover. Yep I have heard of it, I’ve seen it around on NetGalley as well (?) I hope you enjoy it! It sounds pretty good.

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      2. I love finding kindred book spirits!! Love NetGalley…still can’t figure out Edelweiss AT ALL. I’m picky about the cover/blurb as well: if it doesn’t sound like something I could get into, I usually skip it (unless many of my friends give it amazing ratings). I’ve been hesitant to read Graceling or SJ Maas’s series because I feel I might get lost in too much world-building (does that make sense?) because I’ve never been able to read Tolkien and the movie alone was info-packed.

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      3. Yep. That’s literally the whole reason I started my blog, finding kindred book spirits 😀
        I’ve been blogging since November and I haven’t figured out Edelweiss either, I’m just sticking with NetGalley. I don’t request too many ARCs, and most of the books I read are either due to cover buys or because there are amazing reviews floating around. No I know what you mean, I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve never read Tolkien, I don’t think I’ve even seen all the movies all the way through. I can’t really speak for Graceling but I love the Throne of Glass series so if you’re ever feeling adventurous give it a go 🙂

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  2. I’ve been meaning to check it out…it has a big following. I have A Court of Thorns and Roses in my ereader from the library, and I know that has been big, too.
    I’ve honestly bought a lot of books from Amazon’s sales so I now own a lot of the books I’ve been meaning to read, but I have several ARCs and library books due back first, and every time I go back into the library to return something, there’s always something else I’ve been meaning to read!
    I’ve been working on a RaR from an author on Goodreads: there’s a group I follow that has books you can sign up for if they interest you, so I have been doing that as well. Then I have two titles from Goodreads, though they both suggest I don’t review them until 30 days before publication (which I’ve had no experience doing before…but I guess that’s what the bigger publishing companies prefer). So I’m book-heavy because my “eyes are bigger than my”…well, not stomach, like the saying goes…but I guess the closest thing would be “time.” I check out too many at once, and just don’t have enough hours in the day to read them all. It’s frustrating. I’m sure you’ve been there?

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  3. Oh such a great review! I haven’t read this book, and being a big contemporary reader, I’m only going more and more into fantasy since the beginning of the year, and I am making fantastic discoveries… and I think that book might be another one of these. It sounds quite original! 🙂

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    1. It surprised me so much! I already requested the next two books from the library and they are en route…I just cannot WAIT to see what happens next.
      Definitely one that deserves the hype.
      I used to read contemporary, too, but the fantasy books that these authors are writing are just amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I bought this a while ago and still need to read it. Nice review! You’re making me want to read it sooner. I’ve read so much fantasy lately I try to mix it up with contemps and thrillers. I’m starting Nevernight on Monday, then I’m starting on this series and A Darker Shade of Magic. I have so much to read I can’t keep up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know EXACTLY how you feel. I bought A Darker Shade of Magic when it was on sale on Amazon, so I don’t have to worry about getting it back to the library…but I have a pile of books that are starting to come due…so I’m reading as fast as I can because I hate bringing my books back late.
      I did, however, request the next two in the series because now I have to know what happens next! (I think you’ll like it – no cliché rip offs from other books. It’s super creative and fun! I hope you enjoy it!) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I went on an Amazon binge one day and bought all the books I wanted at the time. Between ARCs and other books I bought since then I have tons to read. Oh that’s good. I’ve read a lot of books the last six months that lacked originality. At least this book won’t be one of them. 🙂 Thanks!

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