Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Little, Brown Books
for Young Readers
Daughter of Smoke and BoneBy Laini Taylor
5+ Scribbles
Spunky and independent seventeen-year-old Karou has always been different from other teenagers. She has an extraordinary gift for drawing, she wears a string of wishes around her neck, she has blue hair, and she attends a prestigious art school in Prague. She lives alone and has no parents that she knows of; her only family consists of a small group of Chimaera—magical, beautiful creatures—that raised her in an enchanted workshop beyond a hidden portal, only to later nudge her into the human world. Karou knows something is missing in her life, but she accepts that there may never be answers to her questions, no solution to the loneliness that sometimes threatens to engulf her. And then one day she meets the handsome and fierce Akiva, and suddenly her world is helter skelter. Taylor paints with words the way master artists paint with brushes. Her descriptions are rich, textured, and raw, allowing the reader to travel through portals with the characters and to see through the character’s eyes. The plot has the flavor of an appetizer-sized portion of Romeo & Juliet with just a sprinkling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is impossible to reach the end of one chapter and not have an overwhelming desire to turn to the next. Readers become emotionally invested in Karou. They will identify with her when she realizes for the first time that family is not perfect, and that we all must eventually face the world alone. They will laugh with Karou and her best friend Zuzanna as they groan over life’s challenges, and they will struggle with Karou to fully understand temptation, forgiveness and redemption. All of these lessons are interwoven into the tapestry of the story seamlessly without ever being in the least didactic, or simplistic or distracting. Taylor has taken the canvas of a novel and painted a lovely and matchless masterpiece. There is a reason that this novel has been voted one of the Top Ten Best Books of 2012—a unique and refreshing tale like this hasn’t been told since C.S. Lewis. If I had a bruxis I’d wish that the next book was already waiting for me on my shelf—but alas, I love eating too much to part with my teeth.

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