Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Published 2011 by Little, Brown, and Company (Hachette)
YA paranormal romance
I adored the first half of the book and found the second half mediocre in comparison, which makes this a rather difficult review to write. Fans of YA paranormal romance will certainly enjoy this book, however.
The first half of this book is mysterious and beautiful. Where other writers walk among words, Laini Taylor dances with them, bringing into being a transient and fragile world. Karou, a blue-haired artist with impossible friends, is a spectacular character with sympathetic flaws, and her "family" behind the door is fascinating in its mystery.
And then after crossing some invisible line, Daughter of Smoke and Bone transforms from something dark and lovely to a standard YA paranormal romance, insta-love, reincarnation, and all. The haunting beauty is still there, but it's only a flimsy façade for the house identical to every one before it and all that will come after.
That's not entirely fair. If the entire book had been like the second half, I would have written it off as just another paranormal romance and reviewed it as such, with a nod, perhaps, to the unusual quality of language and the imagination of the world. But by writing the first half of this book, Laini Taylor demonstrated that she's capable of amazing things and proceeded to disappoint me in their realization.
Explanation makes a major difference between the two halves of this book. Not that I think we should never have found out who Brimstone and the others are, because obviously that wouldn't work. But the way the finding comes about is almost dropped in Karou's lap, as much as anything is, and it doesn't seem right. It's almost as though the first and second halves are two different books. One of them is like Alice in Wonderland and the other is like Twilight. It would be impossible not to think of them differently.
So, while I do think you should read this book, I wish the whole thing had been more like the first half. Daughter of Smoke and Bone makes a reasonably good paranormal romance, but it would have been a great Something Else.