Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: September 2011
Two Sentence Synopsis: Seventeen year old Karou had an unusual upbringing. An event that leaves her stranded from her adoptive family shows her that there is even more to her history than she could have ever imagined.
Review: I feel like I wanted to enjoy Laini Taylor’s A Daughter of Smoke & Bone more than I actually did. The majority of the story takes place in a city that I don’t recall ever seeing in a YA novel, Prague, which I thought was really interesting. I also thought the book’s concept was different and creative. I liked Karou and her friend Zuzana and really enjoyed their friendship. The whole first half of the book was quite charming and enjoyable with moments of intrigue and humour.
Where the first half was really strong, I felt let down by the second half. The twists weren’t really that unexpected, the story really dragged, and the the whole issue with insta-love. If you read Goodreads reviews of YA novels, you know what insta-love is, otherwise, you can probably figure it out. Think Bella and Edward – the most popular, if most over-used, example of two characters immediately falling in love the moment they lay eyes on each other. Insta-love annoys me. There’s better ways to write romance in YA novels without writing insta-love. I guess my one positive about the romance in this novel is that there wasn’t a love triangle.
I also found the pacing an issue, especially once I got past the first half of the novel. Even though the words tried to describe a sense of danger and urgency and tension, the story dragged on and at times I found it difficult to continue reading. Add to the fact that the two central characters in the second half of the book, Akiva and Madrigal, are the epitome of perfection, it just made reading a lot more effort than it should have been.
I’ll give the book a rating of 3 because of how strong and enjoyable I found the first half. I know a lot of people really loved this book, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to readers who enjoy insta-love in their YA.