Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3)

The list of books I have read and have yet to review was growing lengthy. I was sitting those reviews aside for a separate reason, but it was also influenced by this final book. It was one I had bought months beforehand, just as it had been released to stores, and I had found myself in the midst of chaos. Issues with a roommate, a conference season at work, trying to move my belongings, and traveling to the other side of the country and back without work blowing up in my face upon my return. I was really, really busy and the book was pushed aside. I knew it was there, I saw it every time I looked at my bookshelf, neatly nestled between the first two books of this trilogy and my Catherynne Valente books. The eye on the cover watched me, patiently, and seemed to wait for me to pick a time. 

I had other chances to read the book. Things settled down both at work and in life. I was moved in fully and I had the time for pleasure reading. Instead, I went for other books and passed over this. It happened again and again until the new year arrived. I felt it, suddenly, that now was the time to read it. Looking through photos I've used for the blog, specifically pictures of my book nook, I realized that I had read the first two books (back to back) the previous winter. So, maybe without realizing it, I feel that this series is a good winter tale. I also was in desperate need for some fantasy YA with lots and lots of dreamy love. 

At this point I would typically throw out the links for the previous two book reviews but I never wrote them! They were read shortly before I closed the blog last year and I never had the chance to write them. So we'll do a quick review of the first two books.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone -- Book 1

This book was magical right from the start. The main character, Karou, is every teenage goth-like kid's fantasy girl. You either liked her or wanted to be here. She's quick witted, serious, with bright blue hair and a talent for art. She also has a secret: her family is a group of monsters. Creatures whom all seem to have crawled out of hell but certainly do not behave in such a matter.

We're also introduced to Akiva, an angel by description but not necessarily by action. He has set out to burn the doorways to other worlds, portals that allow Karou and her monster family to move freely so that Karou may do her "father's" (of sorts) bidding (to collect teeth, oddly enough). And then... Karou and Akiva meet and there's something there. Something important. Something that Karou can't quite remember. Then she does and her world is turned upside down.

Days of Blood and Starlight -- Book 2

Karou now knows of her mysterious past and who her "adoptive" family really is. Aside from the caring monsters she always knew them to be (which remained true), they weren't monsters at all but her own race. She also has discovered who Akiva is and what he has done.

There is a lot of changing in this book by terms of writing. While the previous one seemed to go on one track, there's more flip flopping and changing of perspective in this one than the last and at times I found myself bored by the story because we were focusing on one character while I was really interested in finding out what another was doing. Still, the story all but shoots you out of a cannon and into the other worlds that we are given.

Akiva and Karou, two characters you've come to love (or should have, in my opinion), are on separate sides and you're left to wonder if they'll ever see eye to eye again, if Karou will ever accept and forgive Akiva, and yet... there's other magic afoot.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters -- Book 3

A year passed from the time I finished the second book, to when I picked up the third. A year. A year that proved long enough for me to forget a lot but not so long that I forgot the plot and how wonderful this book is. Taylor writes as if she were a great artist painting the most lively painting. Everything is beautiful, even the ugly parts, and it's easy to get swept away by her language in all three of her books. This third book was particularly like this, as it was well over six hundred pages long and dove into different mythologies within the culture of the Chimerea and Seraphs (and beyond). 

I adored all the characters who had been there before. I loved them to bits and was weary of newcomers. Eliza, the human who has a deep, dark secret; the girl who has her own chapters and it isn't quite clear the point of her; the girl who means so much more but then seems to not take focus anymore. She became more interesting the more I read her chapters. At first, I was bored by them and bothered that Taylor introduced an entirely new character in the last book. "She better be here for a damn good reason," I thought. And she was, but I still felt like we weren't given the proper time with Eliza to see her really come to her full self.

Our old beloved characters are there, of course, and I feel that they were featured all equally and with wonderful development. I enjoyed seeing them all and I eagerly devoured every page to see how everything panned out. One aspect I really enjoyed was the discovery of the "angels" in the human world and how they were handled by humans. I feel that this was not only insightful but probably accurate. People go nuts upon the arrival of angels, people obsessive with religion have gone to Rome, and governments are on edge.

Moving along, we learn more about Akiva, as well. Finally we discover his ancestry with detail and I found myself a bit confused. I feel it was rushed, somewhat, and thrown in at the end of the book. My confusion could have been due to not having read the series in a year, I may  have forgotten some details, but I was certainly a bit confused about who these people were and why they were there. It certainly took me a minute to remember part of the details of Akiva's mother from the previous books.

Aside from this all, I wanted to throw the book a few times because I would grow so frustrated about events. Life isn't fair and Taylor definitely doesn't hold back on that with this book. But the ending was... satisfactory (without giving too much away!) and for a week after finishing this book I was sad that I couldn't read more. I'm still sad that the trilogy is done. I want more, I want to check in on these characters, and I want to see what they're up to now and in the future. When I feel a sense of loss after finishing a book, I know I enjoyed it.

Last Week's Review: My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
Next Week's Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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