Monday, November 5, 2012

Early Review of Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2) by Laini Taylor

Author's Website:
Notes: I read the eARC (eBook Advanced Copy Reader version provided by the publisher via NetGalley) and will need to check my quotes against the finished book. The book is a bit more violent than most Young Adult books as there is a war going on.

'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 mother's 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 and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.'

We all have our breaking points. A point where something so horrible and unjust and painful makes us snap and breaks our grasp on all that is decent, humane, good and logical within us. If you don't think you have one, you've never been pushed to the edge and are lying to yourself. Such was the case with Akiva when his world was shattered as he was forced to watch his beautiful, smart, gentle and sweet Madrigal get beheaded for daring to fall in love with him, her natural born enemy. He came out of the experience bitter, furious, enraged and bent on vengeance. For those who killed her and those who let it happen would feel the blunt of his wrath and would suffer. He decided they would all pay dearly and dearly they did...

     "You know how, at the end of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet wakes up in a crypt and Romeo's already dead? He thought she was dead so he killed himself right next to her?"
     "Yeah. That was awesome."...
     "Well, imagine if she woke up and he was alive but..." She swallowed, waiting out a tremor in her voice. "But he had burned her city. And killed her whole family. And killed and enslaved her people."
     After a long pause, Zusana said in a small voice, "Oh."
     "Yeah," said Karou, and closed her eyes against the stars.

This is the world after.

And Karou is the world's last hope.

This was another wonderful story by Ms. Taylor. It's begins 2 days after Karou left Akiva in Morocco after her memories came rushing back when they broke the wishbone and she had learned what Akiva had done. No one, not even Karou's best friend Zuze, has heard from her since. Akiva is still recovering from the revelation that Madrigal didn't truly die 18 years ago and is trying to cope with the horror of what he has done to her. Zuze is frantic with worry because she hasn't heard from Karou and that is not like her. Reporters swarm around Karou's old apartment hoping to catch a glimpse of the girl from the bridge who had an encounter with angels and flew away. Reports abound of teeth being stolen from museums all over the world and Zuze and Mik speculate it must have something to do with Karou. One of the robberies, however, was near them and they can't fathom why Karou, if she'd venture so close to home, wouldn't have visited them and let them know she was okay?

In the angel and chimera realm, chimera's truly have been defeated and all but wiped out. While angel kind begins their victory celebration, angels are mysteriously being murdered and left with messages such as, "From the ashes, we are arisen." and "THE ANGELS MUST DIE."  Curiously, there is no indication that the angels who were killed put up any kind of struggle or fight.

In this book, we learn more about Akiva and his life as one of the Misbegotten. We'll learn more about his siblings and, more specifically, the two he forged a bond with--Hazael and Liraz. We'll learn a little more about Joram, Akiva's father, and how his empire works. We'll learn about Akiva's mother and what happened to her. But most importantly, we'll find out what Brimstone's last words were and see understanding finally dawn upon Akiva as he finally realizes what Brimstone was trying to say when he stated:
"Dead souls dream only of death," the resurrectionist told the emperor. "Small dreams for small men. It is life that expands to fill worlds. Life is your master, or death is. Look at you. You are lord of ashes, a lord of char. You are filthy with your victory. Enjoy it, Joram, for you will never know another. You are lord of a country of ghosts, and that is all that you will ever be."
And Akiva will once again need to make a choice. He knows there's no hope of Karou ever being able to forgive him for his sins, but he'll try to be the person Karou had once looked at with loving eyes.

Why is the book named Days of Blood & Starlight? I believe because of this verse:
     'Light coursed through Karou and darkness chased it--burning through her, chilling her, shimmer and shadow, ice and fire, blood and starlight, rushing, roaring filling her. Shock and disbelief. And rancor. And rage.'
You'll notice Ms. Taylor is listing a few pairs of opposites and blood and starlight is one of them. I kind of see the blood as representing days of death, destruction and despair, while starlight represents hope and better days. As so much blood has been spilled, I feel it's the appropriate title for this book. A nice representation of both the dark and the light that is within us all.

Favorite lines:
- 'There is intimacy in pain. Anyone who has comforted a sufferer knows it--the helpless tenderness, the embrace and murmur and slow rocking together as two become one against the enemy, pain.'

- 'Kaz made Zuzana wish that beauty were something that could be revoked for bad behavior.'

- "What is it about you?" She had asked him recently. "I almost never like people, even in tiny doses. But I never get tired of being with you."
"It's my super power," he said. "Extreme be-with-able-ness."

- 'Perhaps Fate laid out your life for you like a dress on a bed, and you could either wear it or go naked.'

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. By far one of my favorite books of the year. I HIGHLY recommend this one. It will be in the upper half of my top ten favorite books for 2012 and just might take the number one spot. At present I can't think of another book I've enjoyed as much and since receiving the ARC have read it more than once. That's something I NEVER do so soon after reading a book and hardly ever after. Beautifully written with a quirky sense of humor added in that offsets some of the darker parts of the book. If you've ever wondered how to take a classic story like Romeo and Juliet and make it your own, Ms. Taylor's series is an excellent example. Yes, there is a war going on and so there are some violent scenes. As to what age group this one is targeted at, I'd say it caters to the older young adult audience of perhaps 15 and up.
Order of the series:

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