26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2012
Laini Taylor is a world builder. That is true of all writers, particularly of those who write genre fiction, but not all Fantasy/SciFi writers can boast worlds that luxuriate in the incomprehensibly beautiful. Greater still is the challenge to bend these transcendent worlds so the reader feels as comfortable there as they are in the privacy of their own homes.
National Book Award finalist, Taylor, crafted a world within our own and brought to life a family made more of hope than blood in her novel Daughter of Smoke and Bone. We meet Karou, a blue-haired art student whose family is a small congregation of "monsters," or chimaera folk, (creatures that have the attributes of different animals and humans), who rescued her from a fate of senseless punishment.
There is also Zusana, her sarcastic, charming best friend and, of course, Akiva, the boy who means more to her than she realizes, and whose love has breached the infinite depths of time and space. After the first read (because, trust me, it is impossible to refrain from multiple readings of this novel), you will be so fully immersed in Karou's story, her epic and heartbreaking bond with Akiva, and the damage done to them by war, that your fingers itch to turn the pages of the next installment.
Next week, those itchy fingers will be satisfied.
Days of Blood and Starlight continues Karou's journey, but it is a trek that is not solely hers to take. Returning again ,and with greater focus, is Zusana and her mission to sort out what happened to her best friend, and Akiva, who searches for Karou and, more hopefully, the forgiveness he believes she will never give him.
The sequel finds Karou in the company of her enemy, taking up the mantel that her surrogate father, Brimstone, carried: the resurrection of their people. Initially, Karou disregards, or perhaps, ignores her own heartache, choosing to coat her shock and loss in a thick veil of rage. Akiva is the source of that rage and Karou seems content to hold tight to her belief that he alone is responsible for her sorrow.
War continues between the few remaining chimaera rebels and the seraphim, Akiva's people who have sought to decimate the "beasts" with little discretion. But with lifetimes spent in the death and destruction of the enemy, factions - small though they may be - grow weary and separately begin to breathe life into newborn rebellions.
There is heartache in this sequel, understandable when central to this novel is love and loss. There are also moments of shock and sheer joy, some surprising yet bittersweet and expected.
Taylor's gift is, yes, the imaginative worlds she has woven with her series, but it is hardly her only talent. Words and worlds collide between her pages. Loves are lost and won. Hopes are forgotten and renewed, all made real and vivid. Throughout her novels, Taylor conjures the mystical, the surreal natures of impossible creatures who breathe full gasps of hope and promise. Their struggles become ours, their triumphs and tragedies are felt in our hearts.
Once again, Taylor works enormous magic with simple words, surreal worlds and finely drawn characters. Daughter of Smoke and Bone whetted our appetite and Days of Blood and Starlight leads us deeper into this magical world interwoven with ours. After thoroughly enjoying the latest adventures of Karou and her friends, there is only one question left to ask: where will Taylor take us next?
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2012
The saga of Karou continues and fans of DOSAB should enjoy this middle volume. The book mostly centers around hostilities between the chimaera and the seraphim, jumping from seraphim point of view and akiva to the chimaera point of view (Karou). The characters are developed well and given much more depth and dimension. But this book does have an dark edge to it that was not as prominent in DOSAB. There is a strong theme of pain, violence and loss that make this a rather bleak read in places. Fans of the Akiva-Karou romance will not find much of that here, but you can see Taylor carefully setting the stage for its eventual return in book 3, at least that's how I interpret things. Some may quibble with Karou's character, who has gone from the quirky, basically happy girl in DOSAB to a bitter, often angry, angst ridden woman in this book, but I liked it. I especially like how Akiva's character evolves in this book. My only negative is that this is maybe a 350 page story blown up into a 500 page book--Taylor does tend to let the purple prose go on too long sometimes.
54 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2012
For all her life Karou wanted to know who and what she is, but those answers came with a steep price as they revealed shocking truths about her past. She was in love with the enemy and because of that her people payed the consequences. Now on opposite sides from her lover and unsure who to trust, Karou is trying to find her way in her strange new world. Paying penance for her past deeds, she's helping her people return one resurrection at a time as they prepare for the ultimate battle. Be it for revenge or salvation, only time will tell.
If it weren't for the uniquely lyrical prose I almost would have thought Days of Blood and Starlight was written by a different author. It just felt incredibly lackluster when compared to the first installment. In fact up until I reached the 40% mark I pretty much had to force myself to continue reading. Considering the fact that first book was all consuming for me, that was a startling change. This book was just so incredibly slow as the lyrical prose tipped over from magical to overwhelming. Also, the rotating perspectives only dragged things even further. I realize that the author was probably trying to expand the story past just Karou's perspective, but in all honesty I could have done without most of the rotations, especially as they all became rather overwhelming. A lot of my problem with that was that by the time I was able to get "sunk" into the current character, it would up and switch to another one, throwing me out of the book.
I can't help wondering where the awesome and amazing Karou that we met in Daughter of Smoke and Bone went. She is nothing like her old self in this book, and it really disappointed me. I do realize that she had her world turned upside down and felt the utter sting of betrayal from Akiva. But even so, that doesn't explain why she is a completely different person this time around. She's so much harder, as well as incredibly bitter. Karou's spark just seems to be gone, especially as she wallows in guilt and allows everyone to walk right over her. She really believes she deserves their treatments towards her, and for what? Because she fell in love? She wasn't the one to spill the secrets that brought on their destruction, but she still accepts their scorn and hatred as if she had. Making matters worse was the way she treated Akiva, each time destroying him a little more. The man was giving his heart and soul utterly and completely in hopes of redemption and yet she couldn't possibly show him any more scorn. It just took the beautiful romance from the first book and threw it out the window making my heart break for Akiva.
I realize that my mediocre feelings towards this book may very well place me in the minority, but in all honesty I'm just so frustrated with the vast change from the first installment, that I feel a large amount of disappointment with Days of Blood and Starlight. I really hope that this book's issues can be chalked up to a sophomoric slump as I would really like to see this series go out on as high of a note as it began. I will say that some of my issues with Karou's lack of a backbone did seem to slowly start a turn around by the end of the book, so hopefully that means the spark that drew me to her in the first place will make a shining return. That being said, and my frustrations aside, I don't regret reading Days of Blood and Starlight as it set things up for a potentially epic finish to the series.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2012
Hauntingly beautiful, filled with the heartbreak of impossible choices and the separation from those you love, Days of Blood & Starlight is the much darker sequel to Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Stunningly vivid prose that spoke of pain and desperation, a tension-filled atmosphere that teetered on the hopes of two souls deeply in love but eternally at war, and secrets powerful enough to permanently change the face of a thousand year war left me clinging to Days of Blood & Starlight's pages as I was pulled along at break-neck speeds on its suspenseful path of destruction.
Nothing like Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight had no room for blood-pumping romance or self-discovery. The absence of happiness was felt in every moment, leaving a bleakness that permeated each page. With delicate and simple prose, Taylor wove a tale of endless heartache with perfect pacing that was so achingly beautiful it hurt. Unlike many of her peers that shy away from the gritty details of how much is required of the protagonist in order to succeed, Taylor embraced the challenge. With the fate of the world at stake, Taylor truly allowed us to experience just how devastating the war had been for both sides, the disturbing choices that both sides had to make in order to weaken their enemies and the sacrifices demanded by everyone involved. At each turn, Taylor helped us to feel both the weight of Karou's duty to the Chimera and her guilt for her role in their demise.
Karou is unrecognizable, her vitality and zest for life replaced by an all-consuming shame for her involvement with Akiva. Having lost everything and everyone close to her in her life, she's a mere shell of the person she once was, resigned to work with the Chimera in an effort to undue the harms she feels she has caused. Using her own flesh for tithe, causing physical pain to temporarily obstruct her emotional hurt, she makes her way through this new world in a daze. Yet somehow, she remains as determined and strong as she was in Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Her feelings of duty to her people, and her need to perform penance were her motivators in the face of daily threats to her life, and isolation from those few people left with whom she held dear. I couldn't help but admire her courage, even during her weakest moments, especially when she was faced with the one who led to her unravelling - Akiva.
Akiva underwent such tremendous character development in Days of Blood & Starlight that I not only began to understand him, but I also started to respect him. While he coveted Karou from afar, he was mindful of how deeply he had betrayed her trust and was mostly respectful of keeping his distance. His determination to save Karou from further harm was why I found his actions so genuine - he wasn't helping Chimera and leading a revolution because he thought it would reunite him with Karou; he was doing those things because he realized how futile war - how meaningless cruelty and vengeance - were. It was nice to see him develop on his own, independently of Karou, rather than as an extension of her.
Dedicated to expanding the world we only caught mere glimpses of in Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight is a gorgeously crafted sequel that I would argue is even better than its predecessor.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2012
This, the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series was a very hard read to get through.
Most of the book was spent with Zuzanna searching for Karou; Karou wishing for the days when she was her former self from a previous life, and well...monster making. Lots of monster making.
For those of you that fell in love, (myself included) with the world that we were introduced to in Daughter of Smoke and Bone; will find that world quite masterfully obliterated this time around.
What we find in it's place is war, blood, pain, and loads of Romeo and Juliet angst action on the parts of Karou and Akiva.
While the back story on Akiva and the Misbegotten is very interesting at first, after the 300th time that we have to hear about it, it gets a little old. When we lost the characters that died in the first book, a lot of the flavor died as well. Come back??????!!!!!!
Even the war becomes overkill that leaves you wondering who or what will be left to rule by the time either side gets finished KILL, KILL, KILLING everyone in sight?
I mean really.
Do you have to kill EVERYBODY?????
There are a great many more issues that should be brought to light, but in the interest of not spoiling the read, will not.
This book is well written, however it seems to suffer from second book-itis. That is when the author throws everything but the kitchen sink into the second book while trying to focus on keeping the characters that readers fell in love with in the first book interesting.
Hint: The trick is to continue the journey that you started in the first book. Not to go so far off the path that your audience needs a GPS and a week to find you.
This review is a cross post from my blog and I was not compensated for it in any way. The opinions expressed herein are my own.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2013
The first 75% of this book dragged on for me to no end. Only the last 25% was worth reading. To me this sequel was a huge disappointment after the first book. Did not have remotely the same feel (nor feel like the same genre) of the first book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2012
I loved Laini Taylor's first book so very much (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) and couldn't wait for the sequel. I've seen other reviewers criticize this book as a sophomore slump, but I disagree. Much as the films "The Empire Strikes Back" or even "The Two Towers" have a different pacing than the films before them, this book similarly has a slower pace than the DOSAB. The first book is always exciting because you're meeting these amazing characters and allowing yourself to absorb the details of an author's world building. In the second book, things change. There's pain, there's despair, there are obstacles. To give hope back at the end, you must first take hope away. And so in this book, we see Karou/hope taken away, thereby setting the stage for the climax in the third and final book. The author is also weaving together closer and closer the worlds of seraphs, humans, and chimaera...something that in the first book was kept very separate. I suspect she's making a point. ;)
Keep the faith. Read this book and prepare to wait anxiously (write faster, Laini!!) for the conclusion. I don't think we'll be disappointed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2012
Congratulations to Taylor and her team for delivering an immensely satisfying follow-up to an incredibly promising first book. I find second books of trilogies to be notoriously slow and awkward, and so was utterly delighted when DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT was just as well-wrought as the original. Fast-paced, creative, joyous and heartbreaking; full of excellent twists, classic devices in a fresh voice, and Karou's signature humor. Especially love that Taylor found a way to include all the favorite characters from the original while staying true to the integrity of the storyline. Bravo!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living--one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers' arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.
"Once the lovers lay entwined in the moon's secret temple and dreamed of a world that was like a jewel box without a jewel--a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.
"This was not that world."
Daughter of Smoke and Bone enraptured me last year and its sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, similarly captured my imagination and heart from the first page and would not relinquish it even to the last.
Days of Blood and Starlight is a successor epic in scope - Taylor admirably expands upon the wildly romantic Daughter and takes readers to the darker, war-ravaged world of the chimaera and seraphim. There is plenty of blood spilt in Days, but characters from the different sides begin to question what it is they're fighting for. War is depicted in all of its facets and perspectives, from Misbegotten angel soldiers, avenging rebels, to innocent refugees caught in the crosshairs.
Although war is at the forefront of this novel, its myriad characters' plights, seraphim and chimaera, as well as humans, give Days its stirring emotional depth. As in Daughter, I had some "Oh, no!" heart-wrenching moments with new and familiar faces. However, I was very glad that although Days leaves Prague behind, Zuzana and Mik appear in delightful scenes to balance the darkness of the rest of the book.
Mirroring the narrative shift of the trilogy, Karou also undergoes a similar transformation from naive teenage girl of the first book to a guilt and anger-ridden force within the Chimaera. She and Akiva, in their own separate narratives, undergo soul-searching and try to find their true purpose while still longing for each other. As the title promises, there is a bit of bittersweet Starlight in this sequel, all the more effective when juxtaposed with the brutality of the endless war.
Days of Blood and Starlight has everything I loved in Daughter of Smoke and Bone: amazingly imagined fantasy world; suspenseful plot; characters that won my heart and my avid hate, alike; and above all, exquisite writing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2012
Oh boy, can Laini Taylor write a book. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is undoubtedly one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. The world she built, the characters she created, and her phenomenal words pulled me in and made me fall in love. There was never a doubt in my mind that I would love this sequel, though I admit, Days of Blood and Starlight did begin a bit slowly for me.
I'm not exactly sure why I had a problem falling into this book. The writing was certainly perfect. Maybe, it's because I was the biggest fan of Karou and Akiva together, happy, and seeing them at odds, though understandable, was hard for me. Another problem for me was the expanded cast of characters. I would be content to only focus on Karou, Akiva, and Zuzana (shout-out for one of the best characters, ever!) forever and ever. But since there is a divide, and Karou and Akiva are separated, there were many other characters brought into the fold. So I spent much of the first portion of DoB&S speed-reading, looking for the shift that kicked things into high gear.
Once the story gets rolling, Days of Blood and Starlight is phenomenal. We have Akiva and Karou, working separately, towards the same agenda: peace. Poor Akiva is resigned and heart-broken. Poor Karou is resolved and heart-broken. The sense of impending chaos, doom, and conflict builds at a brilliantly consistent pace until the very end. An end that leaves us with a promise of a better future?
Oh my. I am thisclose to completely losing my composure and fan-girling spoilers all over the place. So I will stop. Right here. Days of Blood and Starlight is gorgeous, exciting, and imaginative. But if you've read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, you already know that.