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Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone Makes Us Blue

Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone Makes Us Blue

By Swapna Krishna

So, there’s this girl, Karou. She lives in Prague and is a seventeen-year-old art student. On the surface, Karou seems to be your average, blue-haired, tattooed teen. But when you take a closer look, there’s something strange about Karou. Those tattoos on her hands? She’s had them all her life; Karou suspects she may have been born with them. And when Karou tells you that blue is her hair’s real color (with a smirk), she’s not lying.

Karou has an interesting family, to say the least. She was raised by Brimstone, a mysterious non-human “monster” who collects, of all things, teeth. Karou runs errands for Brimstone, traveling through his portals all over the world to pick up teeth for him. But why is Brimstone collecting teeth, and why does he need an endless supply? And who is walking around burning handprints into the doorways of portals? As Karou blindly tries to help the closest thing she has to a father, she doesn’t realize that this secondary world is moving closer and closer to war.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a hard book to discuss. On the surface, it’s really intriguing. There’s this teenager, and she’s pretty appealing. She kicks ass and knows how to defend herself. Karou’s easy enough to like, and her loyalty to Brimstone is really great. She is definitely the best part of the book.

The worst part? The love interest. Oh dear god. Could it be any more angsty or overwrought? His name is Akiva and he is present from the beginning of the book, but it’s only about halfway through that he decides he’s in love with Karou. You got that right—he decides. There’s no falling in love, there’s not even any good explanation as to why he all of a sudden is in love with her. It just happens. And seriously, it brings the book way down. One second, you’re reading about this incredibly rich world and mythology, and the next these two are lusting after each other for no reason whatsoever. And it’s definitely not love—it’s lust. It’s always frustrating when authors try to substitute one for the other. It just didn’t feel real or in any way relevant, which is frustrating.

It also doesn’t help that though Taylor makes up a really interesting, complex world filled with unique characteristics, what she bases it on is all-too-familiar. And it’s been way overdone in YA fiction—we’re talking teen-vampires overdone (Though it isn’t vampires, thankfully). But because the true nature of the conflict in the book is something you have to discover, you don’t actually know what’s going on at the beginning of the book. Some readers might lose interest after realizing what it’s really about.

So, to sum up: you’ve got a pretty awesome main character, a pretty lame love interest, a frustrating, out of place “love” story, and a really unique, fascinating take on an overdone YA storyline. Where does that leave us? It’s a good book. It really is. But there were things about it that were just too irritating, and by the end, I’ll admit I was uninterested. If you can deal with the love story, though, this may be the end-of-the-summer read for you!

Do you want to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone?

Tags: sci fi, fantasy, reviews, books-and-comics, laini taylor

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About the Author
Swapna Krishna

Swapna is a Washington, DC-based freelance editor who loves all things space and sci fi. You can find her book reviews at S. Krishna’s Books (http://www.skrishnasbooks.com) and on Twitter at @skrishna.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.