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Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) Hardcover – April 8, 2014
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An Amazon Best Young Adult Book of the Month, April 2014: Author Laini Taylor’s immense talent for storytelling is once again evident from the first beautifully crafted sentences of Dreams of Gods & Monsters, the third book in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy. For this final leg of the story, Taylor doesn’t wait around to get the action going--the book starts out with an army of white-robed angels appearing in broad daylight, seen by television crews, an awestruck public, and a young scientist named Eliza. Eliza, we come to realize, is also a new main character narrating from the fresh perspective of an outside observer. Twists and revelations pop up from beginning to end, along with facets of the earlier novels that thrilled me to see again. Dreams of Gods & Monsters continues Taylor’s nuanced treatment of light versus dark, good versus evil, friend versus foe, and is everything I could want in the last of book of an already beloved trilogy. --Seira Wilson
From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Eliza Jones, a research fellow at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, wakes from a recurring nightmare to the discovery that angels have appeared in the sky above Uzbekistan. Unbeknownst to Eliza, she is the linchpin upon which the salvation of worlds depends. The battle is well and truly on in this finale to the "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" trilogy (Little, Brown). Star-crossed lovers Karou and Akiva have fleeting moments together as their worlds threaten to implode in a power struggle hemmed by uneasy alliances and surprise players. Jael, the psychopathic emperor, has made good on his threat to invade the human world, and human authorities, ecclesiastical and political, struggle to make sense of the shining angels negotiating for human weapons of mass destruction. With the soul of Karou's friend Siri sealed into the body of chimaera leader Thiago, the slim possibility of alliance and survival exists. Revelations and betrayals, multitudinous characters and fulfilled prophecies speed past in a blur of action and intensity. The introduction of Eliza this late in the game is convenient but useful, since she provides the knowledge that gives victory to the rebellion. Characterizations serve the plot and do not achieve any notable depth, but the momentum is more than enough to keep the pages turning. The obstacles between Karou and Akiva multiply exponentially and finally dissipate. The conclusion promises resurrection, renewal, and long-postponed love happily resolved, and that should satisfy even the most meticulous fans.—Janice M. Del Negro, GSLIS Dominican University, River Forest, IL
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Top Customer Reviews
But most importantly - surprise, surprise, Akiva and Karou DO finally kiss and makeup, but not "make up" as in "have hot, steamy sex" or "dirty Kirin cave sex" or even just "copious purple prose sex". Their sex is the "delicate kiss followed by SYMBOLISM followed by fade to black".
That, my friends, is the story that took 600 pages to conclude. Not including the waste of paper, Book 2, clocking in at a whopping 517 pages.
Reaching the end of this trilogy, I feel like I've been totally betrayed and conned by the greatest con artist of all time - an author who with her first pretty book (which while not as amazing upon reread was still decent) convinced me to buy hardcovers of all these books AND Kindle versions, only to give me the most unsatisfying conclusion in the world. I don't even get a smidgeon of smut, either from Mik and Zuzana (who are still somehow in this book, even though they've worn out their welcome eons ago) or Akiva or Karou! (view spoiler)
This book is an obscene 618 pages long, and there's about 150 pages of story, 100 pages of new characters nobody cares about, 50 pages of Zuzana and Mik being annoying (by existing) and 300 pages of Akiva and Karou staring at each other, but unable to touch. Even Pushing Daisies let its main characters figure out how to effing consummate their relationship - and Ned could literally not touch Chuck!
Taylor's propensity for verbosity leaped off the rails across the chasm, like the good old General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard. Yes, Laini Taylor can write. She can write like I've seen no other Young Adult author write (hell, even some ADULT authors!). In a day and age where the pedestrian, functional, often ugly writing is status quo, where Young Adult seems to mean "I couldn't bother to write better", Laini Taylor proves that an English Major isn't just for shizz and giggles. It is truly beautiful, magical, evocative and mysterious. But when you are wrapping up a plot, when you are trying to bring your two Mary Sues together (I'm sorry - Mary Sue and Marty Stu, because if you were looking for LGBT representation, keep looking), when you are trying to show a battle, maybe spending 3 chapters with your characters in a single conversation may be a little too much.
This happens constantly. Every time something needs to happen, it must be told in triplicate (Karou waxes poetic on it, Akiva mopes about it, Liraz agonizes over it, Eliza is stunned by it), as beautifully and as long-windedly as possible.
One scene that struck me as particularly superfluous was the scene where Eliza discovers the chimaera bodies. I am not questioning the fact Eliza should have discovered the chimaera bodies. I contest that we needed to spend that many chapters on detailing what they looked like, how they are buried, what the kasbah looks like because we saw them already from Karou's point of view! This is no new information, just regurgitating it.
To make matters worse - the main plot of the trilogy is wrapped up at the 80% mark! What happens for the last 20% of the book? A brand-new plot is revealed! No spoilers, because I don't do that, but to those who thought "Return of the King" had too many endings - be prepared.
"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" was not like this. It was tightly written - beautiful, but it was obvious there was a point. It's like as the trilogy progressed, Taylor was given ever more leniency to spin poetic and write however many words she felt like she wanted. Or her editor went on vacation.
And the fact is - if there was enough story or plot or character development, then 600+ pages wouldn't have been bad. But the fact is - no one changes or develops in this book. (Well, maybe Liraz (view spoiler) does. But one character out of a dozen?)
Akiva and Karou are boring people. In English lit land, Akiva and Karou are both static characters - they are the same as they were in the beginning. They fell in lust because they were pretty, they dreamed about peace post-coitus, and they were torn apart. In this book, they are still the most gorgeous people on a planet of gorgeous people, they are still in lust with each other, and they still want to have peace. Nothing about them changed - and somehow, even though they spent 18 years apart, Karou not even knowing about her real life, they haven't grown apart, grown up at all. This is incredible - how many couples can survive 18 months without growing apart?! And couples that start like Akiva and Karou, who only got together because the other was hot and they made mad sex for a solid month?!
The only dynamic character is Liraz and Liraz's story falls a distant second to our main character's Epic Twoo Lurve Story. Liraz's story is an interesting one - one of learning to embrace her emotions and learn who she is. Of course, that person seems to be one who, like most other characters, needs a man (view spoiler).
Even Ziri, whom I did not actively hate, isn't a dynamic character. He's a great guy - and at the end, he's still a great guy. Period.
The characters I actively hated were Eliza (whose purpose was revealed way too late in the trilogy), Zuzana (I want to shave off your eyebrows), Mik (and you are again?), Morgan Toth (I wish all mustache twirling villains looked like this), and Esther (what happened to you?!). They ranged from Class 1: Why are you here again? to Class 5: Your character is obnoxious and needs to go away. I know many love Zuzana and how Cute her Manic Pixie Dream Girl schtick is, but people...if this person existed in real life, I could not be friends with her. She is too obnoxious. And if I have to hear about how doll-like and "cute" she is, I will shoot rubber bands at her.
So I know what you're thinking: "OMG, Crystal, you read these books and wrote all this about them - why did you bother?!"
Why did I bother? Because I have a story for you - once upon a time, I read "Daughter of Smoke and Bone". Betwixt the cover of blue and black, I found a world both magical and endearing - the imagery of a young girl, playing with teeth, while overhead a brood of monsters watched her was vividly in my mind. I did once love DoS&B - when I reread the book to finish the trilogy I bought on emotional reaction to Book 1, I expected to love the book once again. To fall in love with the rest of the trilogy, to the world that once captured my heart and mind.
But a tragic thing happened - the magic was gone. Yes, the beautiful writing on DoS&B was still there, in its exquisite beauty. But in that midst, I saw the flaws - the Mary Sues, the instalove, the retconning, the paper-thin plot, the stereotyped characters, the deus ex machina. These are things that have bugged me in numerous books, that I've spoken out about. Sure, if a story is good, if I get carried away on it, then I can ignore flaws. But where once I was able to float away on this story of angels and demons, I could no longer do so.
I hate being a hypocrite. I don't want to be that person saying "This is right, but this thing that is almost exactly the same thing but ever so slightly different is wrong."
And that's what this review is.
The writing is gorgeous. I love the way Taylor writes (well, most of the time - again with the whole over-writing thing). But the story and characters and world and romance? It fell ever so flat for me.
Of course, I think this is one review out of many, many other 4 and 5 star reviews. So I may be wrong. Maybe you'll love it - that's great. I wish you the best.
The Book: DGM is a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. So, if you’ve made it through Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight, you definitely have to read the conclusion (like I’m telling you something you don’t already know). It’s very much worth it.
Pros: Zuzana, Liraz, and Ziri become great characters in this book. Also, the same imagination and lyrical prose that characterized the first two books is here in spades in the final book. Laini Taylor is a great writer and she’s in fine form in this book. Yeah, we kind of know how it’s going to end, but the author pulls it off in a way that is enjoyable and unpredictable. I give a special A+ to the author for what is a very imaginative, novel story. Also, after the painful, distressing tone of Days of Blood & Starlight, it’s nice to see the story veer back into the magic territory of Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
Cons: The plot was not as strong as the first two books, IMO. We came into this book focused on two things: Karou and Akiva getting back together and somehow defeating Jael. Curiously, both of these plot arcs are resolved rather early and the resolutions are surprisingly anti-climactic. The anticipated big confrontation with Jael ends not with a bang but with a whimper. Also, the Karou-Akiva reconciliation that I thought would be epic and emotional kind of happens with just a shrug. After books 1 and 2, I thought there’d be more drama and emotion and more story time, but the reconciliation is pretty low key and…dare I say, romantically disappointing. The endgame of the story focuses on a new plot arc about monsters in the dark, which hasn’t really been introduced very much hitherto so it feels like someone out of the blue is crashing the party. Still, we’ve got great characters and the story ends the way we want it to end, so while this isn’t the best book in the series, you gotta read it and I give it a solid thumbs up.