Friday, November 16, 2012
Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Title: Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)
Author: Laini Taylor
Rating: 5 Stars
If Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a dream, a mirage, a masterpiece of writing and phrases and words, overlapped and edited and fine-tuned to create a perfection of romance, snark, and pulsating chemistry, all tinged with a palpable undertone of bittersweet, Days of Blood and Starlight is like a hard slap, the cold splash of water, and the startled opening of ones eyes into the bleak, war-ridden, fragile, and bloody reality of life. Unlike most trilogies which follow in a steady rhythm of romance or action or paranormal mystery, Laini Taylor breaks all imaginary constraints and reveals to us the completely unexpected, for Days of Blood and Starlight is as far removed from its predecessor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, as any novel could possibly be. In fact, the only similarities between the two lie in Taylor's atmospheric writing, her distinct characterizations, and the general plot continuation. In all other aspects though, Laini Taylor has surpassed my wildest expectations and written a novel that I can claim, in full confidence, that is far, far better than its predecessor. I gave Daughter of Smoke and Bone 5 Stars, just as I did Days of Blood and Starlight, but in reality, this novel deserves 500 Stars.
Days of Blood and Starlight picks up not long after Daughter of Smoke and Bone ended with Karou coming to the realization that the only family she's ever known has been murdered by the only man she's ever loved. Thus, the tone for Days of Blood and Starlight is set; one of revenge, grief, heartbreak, sorrow, despair, and yet, despite all that, hope. What stands out the most, to me at least, is how real Taylor's novel is. Both Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight unfold in a sequence of events driven by fate, by destiny, and not entirely by choice, much like our own lives. While we all do have a certain amount of say in the direction our lives lead us, it is only by fate that we meet the people who will change us or affect us in different ways and no one can deny that, at the end of the day, despite all the scattered events throughout our lives, everything comes together and makes a certain degree of sense. Things happen for a reason. For me, Days of Blood and Starlight seemed to echo that very same idea. All the events in Karou's life, first as Madrigal and later as Karou, were leading her up to this point. In fact, nothing could have progressed in this manner if Madrigal had not fallen in love with Akiva, if she had not been beheaded by the Wolf, and later if Akiva had not destroyed Loramendi, the home of the chimeras.
This, I feel, is the magic of Laini Taylor's writing. Or perhaps it's the magic of her plot. Either way, her stories unfold in such a realistic manner and best of all, she ensures that all this is palpable to the reader. Karou already made a niche in my heart in Daughter of Smoke and Bone but with Days of Blood and Starlight my heart wept for her. We see Karou at her most vulnerable and, at the same time, her most strong - mentally at least. It can't be said that Laini Taylor doesn't allow her character to grow, for she does. Each and every character we come across, from Akiva to Hazael and Liraz, his siblings, to Zuzanna and Mik, all experience some type of growth and change throughout this book. Akiva, especially, becomes a truly fleshed-out being, one whose personality is no longer as flat or connected to Karou's love as it once was. Now, seeing him as an individual with regrets, grief, and aspirations of his own, it is far easier to grow to truly love him as another person and not simply as Karou's lover.
Furthermore, Laini Taylor simply outdoes herself with the world-building in this piece. Somehow, the battered, torn, and bloody land of Eratz has become such a real place in my mind that I wish to visit it and see it, for its simultaneous beauty and terror, all at once. Yet, for all its good qualities, I do have a few minor qualms with this novel, primarily, the set-up of the book itself. Unlike Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight flits between the perspectives of Karou, Akiva, Zuzanna, and a plethora of secondary characters we are unfamiliar with. While I enjoyed, for the most part, the round and full picture this type of storytelling provided us with, I also found that some small chapters could have been entirely done away with. I kept expecting them to play a greater role in the novel, and unfortunately, they didn't. In addition, the secondary (or quarterary?) characters we're introduced to have such little screen time that it's tough to feel anything much for them beyond fleeting thoughts.
Nevertheless, that is a small qualm to have with a novel so perfect in every other way. Days of Blood and Starlight exceeded all my expectations (and mine were HIGH!) and surprised me with an uncanny amount of depth and a shocking slew of plot twists that had me simultaneously thrilled and upset. Furthermore, the amount of emotion this novel inspires is noteworthy. Taylor makes you feel for Karou and Akiva and while their romance, and their interactions for that matter, is extremely minimal, the bittersweet tone of their love is still felt. Neither Karou nor Akiva is at fault here and Taylor makes us see this so clearly in this piece that now, it is impossible to know in what direction the story will head. It ends off, much like Daughter of Smoke and Bone did, with a bittersweet kind of ending that leaves you aching for more, worried for these characters, and at the same time, filled with hope. I doubt I'd trust any other writer to take on such a complex novel - for truly Taylor has transformed a simple love story and made it into an intricate piece that leaves me with the knowledge that I still haven't understood it all, not fully. Needless to say, I cannot wait for the final installment in this trilogy. If there's anything I can count on, it's this: Laini Taylor will not disappoint.
Posted by Keertana at 12:00 AM
Labels: 5 Stars, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
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Beautiful review, K! Now I know I MUST read DoSaB so that I can catch up and be able to read this. Laini sounds like a very talented author.ReplyDelete
This is the best, most beautifully written review I've read in such a long time. I think great authors inspire us to write even better, don't you? Somehow, we want to do them justice.ReplyDelete
DoSaB was a three-star read, but from what I can see, everything that bothered me about it was removed in this second book. I have a feeling I'll enjoy this one so much more. I ordered a hc copy as soon as I finished reading your review and I'll read it as soon as it gets here. Hurry up, TBD!
Wow. Amazing review! I am about 70 pages into this book and while I can see the beauty of it, and how right this direction is for the story, it's really wearing on me already. I'm trying to gear myself up for all the heartbreak to come. Also, I agree with what you've said about the multiple character POVs. That is not one of my favorite plot devices to begin with, but I trust Laini Taylor's vision.ReplyDelete
Okay I skimmed your review because this book is next on my list, I just wanted to get and idea of what you thought of it! I'm so glad to see you loved it, and I'm encouraged by this:ReplyDelete
"Days of Blood and Starlight exceeded all my expectations (and mine were HIGH!) and surprised me with an uncanny amount of depth and a shocking slew of plot twists that had me simultaneously thrilled and upset."
SO EXCITED. And nervous. Can't wait to get back to Karou Keertana!
I'm so excited for the next book in this series! I don't know if it's going to all be okay or what but I know for sure Laini Taylor's writing will be incredible, as always. This is such an emotionally exhausting & beautiful book.ReplyDelete
I am spending time with this over Christmas break so I don't have to rush!I am like you I have high expectations and I am so happy to hear according to you that this book excelled. Laini is a genius and I love her complex writing and detailed world building! I can't wait!ReplyDelete
With this review, you've infused me with a deep desire to go out and buy this book like RIGHT NOW. I adored Daughter of Smoke and Bone when I read it a few months ago, and when reviews started trickling in for Days of Blood and Starlight, I kept thinking of how this sounds even better than the first and that I'll probably enjoy it even more. After reading your review, I'm even more convinced of how much I'll adore this book. Although I'm not a fan of alternating POVs - even Akiva's in DoSaB bothered me a little. But then, sometimes I think you need to just trust the author and the decisions she's making. It sounds like Taylor has yet to disappoint, and perhaps never will. Such a lovely review, Keertana! I really enjoyed reading this!ReplyDelete
I think this might just be my favourite review in the existence of all reviews. Can I just move you over to my blog now? I'd happily let you write everything for me. ;)ReplyDelete
I'm SO happy to see you give this book 5 stars, Keertana! I loved the first book a lot but think this sounds a lot more like my sort of thing, even with the lack of romance (though in all honesty, I wasn't a huge fan of the romance in the previous book anyway!). I can't wait to dig into my copy soon. Beautiful, beautiful review. :)
Laini Taylor said exactly what you say here in your review about Days of Blood and Starlight, it's a completely different book with a completely different feel. I'm not sure I'll be reading this before the third comes out, but your review has me leaning to reading it sooner. Brilliant review Keertana. :)ReplyDelete
Wow!!!!!!!!! Amazing review Keertana!!!!! Like you, I also enjoyed the first book, I'm glad the second book is as amazing as the first one and is vastly unique in its own way! I can't wait to read this book!!!! Because if its even better then the first (that was simply amazing) then this book should be brilliant!ReplyDelete
I love Taylors sweet, lyrical writing style too!
Seriously Keertana, every time I read one of your reviews, it never fails to shock me how amazing your writing is! This review especially, though, was just gorgeous and so amazing to read. I think YOUR writing definitely reflects Laini Taylor's intricate writing, it's that beautiful! I feel so grateful that you spend time and share reviews with us, because I enjoy reading them so much.ReplyDelete
That being said, I seriously can't wait to pick this one up! I definitely enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, although it was slightly confusing for me. However, after reading your review, there's no way that I won't pick up this sequel. I've read so few books where I was just so emotionally affected, and it definitely seems like you were really affected emotionally by this one. I think beautiful writing does that to you! Everything just sounds so perfect about this book, and I can't wait to pick it up!
FANTABULOUS review Keertana! <3 Your reviews seriously take my breath away!
Wow, SPECTACULAR review Keertana! This is certainly one of my favourite reviews of yours (no small feat indeed, since so many of yours are lovely). I can't wait to dive into this book, considering so many of the qualms I had with Daughter of Smoke and Bone seem to not be present in this book (insta - love, and the glorification of Akiva's beauty and perfection). I was a bit hesitant to read this beforehand, unsure if I would love it as much as all those reviewers who gave it five stars - but you convinced me to get my act together and read this, asap! After Bloodfever. ;)ReplyDelete
Ah! I love this review, Keertana. I'm still somewhat torn on this book, but I did cancel my hold on it...I think I'm going to put off reading it until the third one is looming. Like you said, it's just such an emotional toll! I love that about it, but at the same time, I have to be in the right mindset and prepared. I'm so glad that her characters grow and I like the direction this story is going--where it really has to go.ReplyDelete
OMFG. KEERTANA. I am....ReplyDelete
Well no, more like I want to EXPLODE with so many different reactions that they've plugged up my throat because they're all trying to get out at once. YOUR REVIEW. I need to finish my current read before I start this, but HOLY CHIMERA BALLS (is that disrespectful to say given what Akiva did? Uh.... ANYWAY), I thought I was eager to read before. I KNEW NOTHING OF EAGER UNTIL I READ YOUR REVIEW.
I am not surprised that Laini has outdone herself. After Smoke and Bone and Lips Touch, she has proven with every sentence how remarkable a talent she is. I am terrified, yet bursting with joy to start reading this. Words can not describe how much I love your review! <3
"Laini Taylor has surpassed my wildest expectations and written a novel that I can claim, in full confidence, that is far, far better than its predecessor.ReplyDelete
WOW. That, coming from you is HIGH PRAISE indeed!
2nd fave part of your review?
"Akiva, especially, becomes a truly fleshed-out being, one whose personality is no longer as flat or connected to Karou's love as it once was. Now, seeing him as an individual with regrets, grief, and aspirations of his own, it is far easier to grow to truly love him as another person and not simply as Karou's lover."
YES! Because I felt Akiva was the weakest link in D of S&B, I am SO glad to hear this news!
What a spectacular review, Keertana! I cannot wait to open this book and experience it:)
YOU. YOU THING! That's it. I'm convinved you are not, in fact, human. Nope. You're some kind of super-powered review writing machine from the FUTURES.
"Days of Blood and Starlight picks up not long after Daughter of Smoke and Bone ended with Karou coming to the realization that the only family she's ever known has been murdered by the only man she's ever loved."
DJHFADJLFHDJA. MY EMOTIONS. Actually, this reminds me a lot of Romeo and Juliet, when Juliet finds out Romeo killed Tybalt. This:
"O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!
Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!
Dove-feather'd raven! wolvish-ravening lamb!
Despised substance of divinest show!
Just opposite to what thou justly seem'st,
A damned saint, an honourable villain!
O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell,
When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend
In moral paradise of such sweet flesh?
Was ever book containing such vile matter
So fairly bound? O that deceit should dwell
In such a gorgeous palace!"
And earlier, this: "My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, & known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me, that I must love a loathed"
Oh goodness. AND KEERTANA. WITH MORE WORDS. THIS: "
Now, seeing him as an individual with regrets, grief, and aspirations of his own, it is far easier to grow to truly love him as another person and not simply as Karou's lover." YESSSS. And it's heartbreaking. Seeing his self-loathing, and pain, and how he punishes himself by going on living.
And this: "
Furthermore, Laini Taylor simply outdoes herself with the world-building in this piece. Somehow, the battered, torn, and bloody land of Eratz has become such a real place in my mind that I wish to visit it and see it, for its simultaneous beauty and terror, all at once." CAN I COME WITH YOU?
Your review. AMAZING ♥
i love this book just like i loved smoke and bone.=)ReplyDelete
I enjoy finding new stories that are interesting and different. This fits the bill if you enjoy sci-fi fantasy and young adult stories. I found the writing smooth, and the story well thought out. I thought the different world and characters well described. Give it a try!ReplyDelete
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