Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
I have been waiting expectantly to read "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" since way, way before it was even finished! My short stint as a librarian back in 2009/2010 was a great introduction to the up and comers of the YA and children's literature market, and my fellow librarians and I were avid readers of a particularly quirky and wonderful pink-haired author.
I was positively horrified and dismayed when, a third of the way through "Lips Touch," one of Taylor's first books, I realized that it wasn't a novel, but a collection of novellas and the story was OVER. I needed more. This woman's imagination is intoxicating. Who doesn't love Kizzy, with her family who does "things involving axes and offal" and who harbor "an intimate understanding of how to turn an animal into a meal." Poor, hungering Kizzy and her utter goblin lusciousness...I wanted more!
Taylor's blog, a chronicle of daily life, all things writing and visual inspirations, constantly teased with little hints about her big project due to hit bookshelves in September.
Unfortunately for me and my book lust, "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" wasn't set to release until the day before my mother hopped on a plane to visit for a few weeks. And the chances of the airport bookstores carrying a brand-new YA book? Not likely. So I was resigning myself to the agony of waiting all the way until CHRISTMAS for a copy...
Librarians are wonderful people. And somehow, that shiny brand-new library book made its way 5,000 miles to this very, very satisfied patron. (Who may have squeaked with glee when it emerged from the suitcase!)
And then I gobbled it up in one evening, because I couldn't possibly wait a second longer and I didn't want to be rude to my guests. (For more than one night, anyhow.)
"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" was exactly what I was hoping for and more. There's a blue-haired heroine, Karou, who taunts us with her ability to wish languages into her head (wouldn't that have been nice?), artistic talent and not-to-be-believed secret life. There are beautiful boys, monsters behind impossible doors and international antics involving teeth, black markets and some very sketchy characters. (There is even a bit of useful parental advice about not poking inessential things into one's body: needles, smoke, penises!) Oh, and of course, adventure, new worlds and forbidden love, because what's a YA novel without death, destruction and hormones?
Laini Taylor's lush prose is a trademark in its own right. Pinch me; it's like they've implanted virtual reality chips into the typeface: you can smell Prague, feel the dust of Marrakech and taste the hollowness of Karou's longing in the graphite smudges of her sketchbooks.
I will leave you with one warning. My mother read the book cover to cover on the flight over. This is a woman who always reads the last chapter of a book so she "knows how it ends." She was so enthralled she forgot to skip ahead, and was quite upset when she got to the last page and there was a "To Be Continued..."
So prepare yourself for a wait!
I'm a little sad that I didn't try harder to get Laini Taylor to my small town library and schools back when I had the chance. Post-Daughter, there's no way their budgets will afford her! I predict this will be the jumping-off place for VERY BIG THINGS for our favorite pink-haired wordsmith.