Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone

So if you're tired of reading yet another review about a YA novel, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE, (by Laini Taylor) the short version is this: Go buy this book. Don't pass GO, do collect your library card and check out this book immediately. I don't care how you read this book--you can steal it for all I care (okay I would care, borrow or buy, but NO stealing)--and READ IT. Read it immediately.

The slightly longer version is that Karou is an 17 year old art student in Prague (a unique setting!). She has blue hair, a snarky mouth, and lives with a chimeara. Actually a bunch of them. And if you're not familiar with what chimearas are, they're like part beast and part man. The one she interacts with most, Brimstone, has a ram's head, a man's torso, and a lion's bottom half, complete with tuffed tail that swishes angrily much of the time. Brimstone collects teeth--but he never tells Karou why. He just say it's important. (Hey, at least it's not vampires--am I right or am I right?)

So we spend some time in Karou's ordinary world, which is only ordinary to her (I mean, seriously, a ram's head? The girl chimeara is worse, she's half cobra), and as good stories go, everything literally goes to hell in a handbasket. Because of course, this is a matter of life and death, a matter of Heaven and Hell. And Karou spends her time trying to right things back to their norm.

It's a beautiful book--many beautiful lyrical lines. One of the characters says, "Love is a luxury" and another contradicts, "No, love is an element." (I really should have used more post its to mark lines, but I was too busy reading at lightning speed.) And it's a funny book--we learn in the beginning that Karou has slept with a boy-man-asshat she knows and thoroughly regrets it. When Brimstone learns of it, all he says is, "I don't know of many rules to live by...But here's one. It's simple. Don't put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles--drug or tattoo--and...no inessential penises, either."

I mean the book is worth owning with that line alone.

It's a bit of a dark book--as most YA novels seem to be nowadays--but it's hopeful. Which I'm sure it was meant to be since Karou means "Hope" in the chimeara language. I can't tell you much more for fear of giving too much away, but it's a book about love at its core. Love and sacrifice.

I've got the second book pre-ordered at Amazon. It comes out on November 6th, so you can expect another review then.

So...what is your favorite dark and angsty book that was also hopeful?

35 comments:

Maureen said...

Well, Ghost Story by Jim Butcher... Dresden is a ghost through it all and desperately trying to help those who had to leave behind, and the world he's fought to protect for so long is falling apart...

Ends with an open-ended horrible next story set up...but fabulous book!

New one is out in November and I can't wait...

Janga said...

This is one I haven't read, Hellie, but I've read a lot of raves about it from other readers like you, whose opinions I respect. It's on my maybe list of those books I'd like to read someday--when I finish the books on my must-read list.

I'm not big on dark and angsty, maybe because so much of my research for the non-fiction I write is depressing. Today I'm reading about prejudice in the pre-WWI era. When I steal time for fiction, I want to forget what brutal idiots human beings can be.

MsHellion said...

Mo, yes, the careful blend of suspense, darkness pitted with hope. Jim Butcher is a favorite among my friends. Great recommendation!

MsHellion said...

Janga, I had heard raves about it before I started and I was like, "Eh." As I am about reviews that don't come from, well, you. :) But I got it from the library and I read the first page...and it was just one of those things that just grabbed me from the beginning. Not in a frightening way--but in a "What the heck is going on?" sort of way and it was so funny and bittersweet and just so matter of fact about chimearas, like "Of course, they exist, I was raised by them" and you like them--and then you learn, they're the "enemy" of angels and you're like WTH?

It was just crazy but in a cool way. It didn't force you to want to read it; it was just compelling enough that you never wanted to put it down. You know what I mean?

P. Kirby said...

I thought Laini Taylor, author of this book, sounded familiar...thank goodness for my habit of using GR to track my reading. I read Lips Touch: Three Times by Taylor, several months ago and enjoyed it. That book is actually a collection of three novellas with illustrations. I'll definitely add Daughter of Smoke and Bone to my TBR pile.

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere is pretty angsty but has a mostly happy ending. On occasion, I pick up an Alice Hoffman novel if I'm looking for serious misery. I have a seriously twisted relationship with Michael Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Daughter, a brutally angsty book that eventually gets to a sort of hopeful ending. A big part of the book's attraction for me is the unconventional version of the land of fairy.

Maureen. I've only read a couple of Dresden books, but as I recall they're heavy on angst if only because Harry is perpetually getting beat up, nothing goes right and he rarely gets the girl. :)

TerriOsburn said...

I typed something in here this morning but was on my phone so it wouldn't publish. Then I totally forgot to come back. It's been that kind of day.

I'll tell Kiddo about this one. She's finished 3 books in her first week home. Time to dust off the library book and go find this one.

For dark with hope I think of The Secret Life of Bees. Loved that book and it's one instance where the film actually did the book justice. Perfect casting and all.

MsHellion said...

Pat, yeah! I'm glad I'm not the only one on the ship who's read her books. I will have to look up Neverwhere. I like the title. And though I'm not a fan of fairy-set novels, I did read a couple YA novels with fairies in them...and they're awful. *LOL* So I liked those novels. *LOL* Something that fairies don't have a moral center because they're immortal.

MsHellion said...

Terri, it's becoming this kind of week. I was happy when I remember this morning that I have Friday off. *LOL*

Maybe I should give Kiddo a list of the YA novels I've read so far and that I liked just for kicks.

The Help was really good...and dark but hopeful. Is SLOB even darker?

Maureen said...

Who blogs on Friday!? You're off...is it me or Terri?

Yeah, it's angsty but kick ass angst along with sharp humor.

MsHellion said...

I already have my blog written and posted to go. I will be home; if I dawdle too much in my bed, I'm sure Terri will call and say, "Get the hell out of bed and look at the blog." Besides maybe I can make an effort to "write all day" like a "real writer" would do. I'm just taking the day off because I can and also because they wanted me to report time and I realized I couldn't get the thing to submit WITHOUT putting in a day off and I didn't want to ask anyone how to submit time without time off and thought, "Hell, you have time, just take a day off."

Maybe I can make it a game. If I write so many pages, I can go to a matinee movie in the afternoon.

TerriOsburn said...

But I want to blog on Friday!!

TerriOsburn said...

I haven't seen The Help yet, but I'm guessing Secret Life of Bees is darker. Not as much comic relief. There's some serious brutality in Secret Life, some against the little girl (main character) and most against the black population.

MsHellion said...

Fine, you can blog Friday. I'll move mine to Monday. Mine's not time sensitive. But you better not be blogging what I blogged about...or I'll be annoyed.

Marnee Bailey said...

I have never heard of this but it does sound good. :)

Angsty and dark plus hope.... I think most dark books, at least romance books, have to be hopeful or they wouldn't be romance. I feel like romance books are pretty hopeful as a general.

I did just read THE SIREN by Tiffany Reisz and good lord in heaven.... Talk about angsty and a bit dark, but also funny. Just an all around wonderful book. It's not my usual fare but from here on, when anyone recommends 50 Shades to me, I'm recommending this book. It's BDSM, but it wasn't gruesome. And I think it wasn't gruesome because she partners it up against religion. I have no idea how she did it but boy, I thought it was amazing.

:)

MsHellion said...

One of my coworkers just read 50 Shades recently (because of friends who were raving about it) and didn't care for it...only now I think she might suspect all "romances" are like this. *bangs head against desk*

I'm so torn. I love when popular fiction makes people buy books and helps the industry, but I hate when they're books that label the rest of the field negatively.

Marnee Bailey said...

BTW, I'm not saying that BDSM has to be gruesome. I just mean that I think some more "vanilla" readers trend away from erotica because it makes them feel a bit squicky. Like, you shift in your seat when you read it.

I don't know if that even makes sense. But this didn't make me feel like that. I can't even explain it. I definitely highly recommend. And Reisz can put words together like a goddess. Seriously, so well done.

Marnee Bailey said...

I feel the same about 50, Hells. I think this one bothers me because I seriously read part of that book and felt like the writer was a bit of a hack. Seriously, if the chick bit her lip one more time, I was going to throw my kindle.

Marnee Bailey said...

I won't be using the word "seriously" again today. I've used my quota.

Seriously.

(In my defense, I am very serious.)

TerriOsburn said...

I've been following Reisz on Twitter for a while and from the snippet I read before the book came out, it was clear she's an amazing talent. And he's funny as hell on Twitter. She's the author who went to a real S&M club during Nationals in 2011 and then blogged about the entire experience, including getting spanked. She's not only talented, she's honest and knows her stuff.

TerriOsburn said...

Seriously??

MsHellion said...

Now I have to find that book. *LOL*

*LOL* I'm laughing that Marn has used her "seriously" quota--esp in regards to the lip biting that drove my friend batshit crazy when she was telling me about the book. *ROTFLMAO* She said that book had the opposite effect the husband was hoping for and his friends were teasing him about. "Oh, your wife is going to jump you." NOT. WHAT. HAPPENED. He'd mention the book and she'd open up a can of "Reasons I Hate 50 Shades" at the top of her voice.

He's suspicious of books now.

Marnee Bailey said...

But, the book is really sweet. As hardcore as it gets, it's also got one of the sweetest love stories I've read in a while in it.

I am not explaining it well. It bends our genres in ways that I found so interesting and fresh. I've already pre-ordered THE ANGEL which is the next one. I really recommend it. Go get it.

Seriously.

Marnee Bailey said...

If all he has to go on is what people have told him about 50 Shades, I don't blame him. That'd make me suspicious too.

MsHellion said...

Don't need to twist my arm. I have put it on hold at the library.

Marnee Bailey said...

Good, because I was going to say that you seriously should again. But, you know, I'd hate to be obnoxious.

*eye roll*

By the way, sorry I sucked up the blog gushing about the book. It was one of those that stuck with me for a few days. le sigh.

MsHellion said...

Dude this is what I want on Tuesdays! I want book gushing! I need to feed my TBR pile. I want to know what people are reading. I'm sharing what I read and enjoyed--what are you reading? I'm glad you found something that restored your faith in good old S&M!

TerriOsburn said...

I think Marn should write a review of The Siren for next Tuesday. :)

MsHellion said...

I'll back that recommendation. Marn?

Marnee Bailey said...

Sure!

Wait, I'll be on vacation next week. How about the Tues after that, the day after Labor day?

Marnee Bailey said...

Then again, I'm up tomorrow so I could weave it in there too....

MsHellion said...

Dude I'm more than tickled to have others do book reviews--if you want the slot, it'd be awesome! People will be so thrilled they're not hearing about another YA book, they'll be beside themselves with giddiness! Think of all the pirates you'll make happy!

Maureen said...

From YA to a book on BDSM? The blog goes up, the blog goes down...the blog goes sideways!

Seriously!

Hey, I need someone to cover the Friday I'm cruising Alaska... I know the Yahoo group is the place to discuss this but since we're chatting about blog slots... The 7th will need a blogger that isn't me!

Marnee Bailey said...

LOL! Fine. I'll be reviewing The Siren here on the 4th, then. :)

P. Kirby said...

Chiming in late, everyone's prolly gone home, but I just go back from work--but if you like fairies in an unconventional kind of setting (sort of steampunk, modern), I'd recommended The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams. It's got a lot of front end angst (protagonist is a down on his luck musician, pregnant gf miscarries and then leaves him, etc.), but the world building in fairy land is vivid, lots of memorable characters, etc. Solid third person POV with no annoying head hopping. There's a minor romantic subplot with a HEA. Caveat: it's a looong book.

Maureen said...

Well, I'm still here but really have nothing to say... Hi, Pat!