This book is exactly why book clubs are so awesome. This time, it was Monique’s turn to pick. Her tastes run deeper into the realm of fantasy than mine do, and she’s a great judge of what will be a good read (this makes sense – when we were lowly high school students and young undergrads, we worked together at a bookstore. I always liked her picks then, too – and you could always count on Monique to throw truly awesome Harry Potter-themed parties).
I bought Daughter of Smoke and Bone at the same time as I picked up the hideously awful Geek Girls Unite. These days, I’m trying not to buy too many books (saving for school in September), but the wait list at the library was crazy-long. I took this as a good sign – and I was right.
While Laini Taylor, the author, is American, there are so many European things going on in this book that it gave me the travel bug all over again. The story starts with Karou, a 17-year-old art student in Prague with electric blue hair. She has been raised by chimaera – creatures that share characteristics of different animals and humans – and occasionally is sent on mysterious ‘missions’ to recover teeth for Brimstone, who acts as sort of a father figure. In return, she is paid in ‘wishes’ – this means Karou’s blue hair never fades and that she can fly.
So far, so good, right? Karou thinks so too, and she doesn’t have much trouble concealing her true background until she crosses paths with Akiva, a seraph. Without giving too much of the plot away (because holy moly, this book is full of brilliant twists and turns) Karou and Akiva find themselves taking on the roles of star-crossed lovers with a semi-Biblical twist. What if there were bad angels? What if there were good devils? And what if an ages-old battle between angels and chimaera could be halted with love?
It’s hard to explain this book without the full experience of reading it. Taylor’s sophisticated writing, rich characters, colourful descriptions, zinging one-liners and just the right amount of romance (yes, they go there in young adult fiction – this is one for older YA readers for sure) make this a great for teens and adults alike. It’s one of the smartest books I’ve read in awhile.
If the geek girls don’t feel like uniting over Leslie Simon’s book (and who would blame them?), they should certainly be banding together and passing this one around in the hallways of their high schools. It’s part one in a trilogy and I absolutely can’t wait to read the rest.