Publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: November 2012
Genre: fantasy, young adult
“Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?” – Laini Taylor, Daughter Of Smoke & Bone #1.
The second book in the Daughter Of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor packs a powerful punch for sure and the basic crux of the book lies in the theme that is very aptly surmised in the above quote from the first book in the trilogy.
Once again we explore the world of Angels & Demons or in this case Seraphs & Chimaeras , of Akiva and Karou as their love is tested, along with their strength as individuals while the fate of their races and that of not one but two worlds are put on the line.
I don’t know what it is yet but somehow the first book failed to make an impact as profound as this one and thereof this one wins my vote as the favorite of the series and its not the love story that works in its favor for me weirdly. Its the plot that doesn’t deal with the romance, the tragedy of the lovers but instead delves into the intricacies of the world around them which is a winner for me. A world where Angels aren’t the perceived good fellas who you think normally wouldn’t hurt a fly and the demons aren’t all bad. Its not all black and white, its grey.
One of the most popular and amazing authors that ever has been – J.K.Rowling, has written – “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” in the fourth book of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire, and that holds so true over here as in seen in so many characters, characters who contrary to the preconceived notion of their form defy the norm. The ones who look beautiful aren’t always the good guys and the ones who may come across as beasts aren’t the monsters that they may be thought of. Well, at least some of them. While most aren’t the exception to the rule those who are make this book worthwhile.
As Karou once again returns to her world and is thrust back into the never-ending war she plainly deteriorates for me, honestly what is it with YA books and dumb heroines ? If last book made me think Karou perhaps could be a change, this one so kills the thought entirely. The way she acts and is so lame and dumb for more than half of the book makes you wanna shake her so hard and slap her once or twice if not question her mildly what are you HIGH ON ? OK so she is facing a lot in this one, she has been dealt a huge blow and that too by the guy she loves, in her own words she feels like Juliet who woke up only to discover Romeo had massacred her family and her tribe, so yeah her life sucks at the moment but the fact that she dumbly goes along with Thiago, the same guy who had her beheaded as Madrigal and does his bidding not being able to muster the courage (and brains ) to question him or his methods is really really dumb.
So yeah Karou for me in this book was annoying, infuriating, nauseating, boring, and incredibly frustrating. Did I mention annoying ? And I don’t even wanna go on about her best friend Zuze/Zuzana and her boyfriend Mik, who arent just dumb enough to want to pursue Karou in a place full of demons, cause yes of course, what is possibly wrong with trying to find a place that has monsters roaming all over it ? Clearly nothing since they find it cool that she is a resurrectionist, and are excited enough to be her apprentices. Not to mention, I never got why did Taylor need to do this, its not as if they served a purpose in this book, if any in coming to the sandcastle where Karou and the Chimaera army are in hiding. Taylor wanted them around for comic relief, but somehow they end up as plain irritating.
What surprisingly is the saving grace of this book, working hugely in its favor is the supporting characters who are damn engrossing to read surprisingly. The Seraph emperor Joram and his Brother Jael, who are so lecherous and so disgusting you can hate them instantly are the perfect example of individuals who are corrupted by power and think everyone is beneath them. Who use the women in their tribe being not the least bit apologetic about it, as if its their right to turn these women into their concubines and keep em in their harem for the sole purpose that they may breed bastards who could have no rights, no life but be used and abused as disposable casualties in their war against the Chimaeras as the lowliest of soldiers. While Jael and Joram are the lowlifes of the Seraph world, Thiago and Ten act as their Chimaera counterparts who make life hell for Karou.
But ultimately in the end its Liraz , Akiva’ half sister who wins my heart over in this book. In the previous book if we saw a proud, fearsome, dangerous and cold Liraz , this one goes so much deeper and reveals the woman, the girl behind the mask of the warrior, the instrument she has been forced to become. Her love for her two half brothers, the only family she has in Akiva and Hazael, her fear that had she not been a bastard born to the emperor she too might have ended up in the harem as the concubine of the emperor or his brother, her pity for those women who are slaughtered once their purpose and her hatred and disgust for Jael and Joram add to her many layers. Their is a vulnerability about her but also a fierceness which as per me is the beauty of Liraz. You cant but love her as you see the softer side of someone so strong. A girl who was forced to become an instrument. A girl who cant even recall her mother’ face let alone recall her love, and yet is afraid of growing close to someone for the fear they may be ripped apart and yet loves her brothers so fiercely she would gladly die for them. You want her to have a happy ending, a partner that cares for her, a companion who is there for her. She simply overshadowed Karou for me and if someone came close enough to her its inevitably Ziri, who over the course of the book is revealed to be a sweetheart, a boy who was infatuated with Madrigal, and who stands by Karou in her hour of need. A lonely soul who is just in need of friendship and companionship not to mention love. May be, just may be if Liraz and Ziri end up together in the next one, in a way that’s believable they might just be the reason I would say I found a beautiful couple with an amazing love story.