Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first tried reading this book maybe three years ago, and for whatever, found myself completely unable to get beyond page 20 or so. At the time, I put it down to the dynamic between Karou and Kaz - I somehow got it into my head that he was supposed to be the main love interest for this book, and let me tell you, I thought he was an absolute tool. As for Karou, I thought she seemed pretty bland as a character, especially given her strange, evil-Adele way of thumbing her nose at Kaz.
Then, after so many years of avoiding this trilogy, I decided to reread The Raven Boys, which I also similarly gave up quickly because of my initial inability to connect to the characters. And I found Stiefvater's book really benefited from the second read, which allowed me to catch up on the series just in time for The Raven King. In addition, my dear friend Sierra discovered my Goodreads profile and found that we had wildly differing opinions on Daughter of Smoke & Bone, which served as another factor to convince me to reread this book.
Upon doing so, I found myself able to get past the point where I gave up before when I finally realized, "Oh yeah, Kaz isn't the main love interest after all! He's just an unimportant tool, and we're supposed to hate him!" And that's when I also got a glimpse of Zuzana, whose presence made a stronger impact on me because she was just so damn funny.
And, from there, I was able to discover just what I was missing. Globetrotting adventure, angels and demons with twists, magic wish money, picturesque Prague setting for most of the action, and then...Akiva and Karou. Now this romance is much more like it! They really work well together - and together, they give Zuzana a chance to utter some lines that, when I read, them, made me laugh out loud. No kidding. I'll never see the words "mating" or "seed" without thinking of Zuzana again.
I especially liked Akiva because he reminded me a lot of my own angelic character, Alex Snow - particularly in terms of physical appearance. Although Akiva is way more idealized, he and Alex look similar enough (particularly in terms of skin tone) that he could be Alex's next cosplay. When he's done with his impressions of Scott McCall or MK from Into The Badlands, that is.
So, all in all, despite the shaky start, this first book in the trilogy turns out to have been completely overlooked by this reader, writer, and fanboy. Luckily, I've got Books 2 and 3 waiting in the wings. For those reads and reviews, stay tuned.
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