Friday, July 20, 2012

Oh, Those YA Trilogies

Yes, I've been sucked in by another one, darn it.  They're just so tempting, but they leave me feeling a little like this (you know you want to click that link. Click it!). Nothing like a cliffhanger to torture you until the next book release. You know those YA books that make you want to grab the next person you see and shake them until they pick it up and read (no? You don't do that?). Well, anyway, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is kind of like that.

The Basics
Taylor, Laini. Daughter of Smoke and Bone. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2011. Print

Laini Taylor lives in Portland with her husband, an illustrator, and their daughter Clementine. She's written several Young Adult novels already and was a finalist for the National Book Award.  Her credentials? Writer of fantastical fiction for teens and not so grown up grownups and possessor of pink hair. (I mean, pink hair, come on!).

The Book
There's so much to love in this book, but let's start with the best: it's utterly captivating. Taylor's writing style, the setting, the world crafting, the originality... the list goes on.

As always with fantasy fiction, the thing I'm most impressed by (or let down by if it doesn't work out) is the author's ability at world building. I want world that I can get lost in, and Taylor more than rises to the challenge. The world she creates is rich and highly detailed.  From the moment she drops us into the streets of Prague with Karou, our heroine, we become immersed in the world. She flawlessly crafts her setting, grabbing readers and pulling them without allowing them to pinpoint the mechanics of it.  But it's not just Taylor's settings that are so engaging.  The chimaera and seraphim that Karou interacts with are so incredibly detailed I feel like they might be real.  The teeth for wishes exchange system that dominates the first 1/3 of the book is original and interesting.  The world of the chimaera and angels is detailed by race, culture, customs, war, language. I feel like Taylor might have a compendium of backstory to go along with it; you can sense the depth that this story is built on, and that makes it that much more fascinating.

The chimaera are also amazing.  The number of combinations Taylor comes up with is great. And she describes these "monsters" with such vivid detail that you feel like they might really exist.  I can't wait to see what Taylor will do with the chimaera in the later books. I really hope that she's able to bring a couple more the forefront. Brimstone and friends are in the spotlight, but the depth of character they reveal is limited to what we can get when following Karou's perspective.  We start to get hints of more as the backstory fills out toward the end, but I want more.  And, really, that's the surest sign of a good story when it leaves you wanting more.

I can't wait to see what Taylor does next with series.  The book ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, though not too bad of one.  (My tolerance for that sort of thing is rather low). There's plenty of room for this series to grow.


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