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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Daughter of Smoke and Bone* by Laini Taylor- young adult book review
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor
Ages 14+ 12:32 Hachette September 2011 Audible    

Being new to Laini Taylor's writing, for me Daughter of Smoke and Bone evokes the magic of--though very different to the meat of--Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles in its lyrical nature. The world has one foot firmly in a darkly romanticized reality as well as having a slowing emerging Elsewhere unfolding around main character Karou.

Karou hops off through magical portals, meeting mundane people and mythical creatures alike, making diabolic deals and crazy wishes--all this “hither and thithering” while trying to lead the full, normal life of an art student in Prague. The storied history unfolds a little too tantalizingly.

Grammatically, she paints a dramatic portrait. Creative, vividly real, by turns lovely and horrific, the words chosen by this authoress are clearly deliberate as to not only evoke a scene and a view but intense emotions. Taylor's heavy use of similes and analogies ought to be annoying, but instead she uses them so deftly as to make the weave in the lore between our world and theirs more complete.

What is frustrating with this first book in the series is that it feels very fractional. It begins in one place, in one way, and ends in a completely different world--for Karou as well--leaving the other behind. One is left with many, many questions and a feeling of utter frustration, devastation, wondering not only what just happened, but where’d the characters we'd grown attached to in Prague get to? In juxtaposition, the itch to pick up book two is very strong--which is, perhaps, the very goal. That tactic not to end a story is rather overused in the book world these days, however, and sometimes we just want a good, solid, satisfying ending. Best friends can't simply be abandoned no matter the fancy boy or horrific battles! We may simply have to stage a readerly riot between the pages. All things considered, the book is as endearing as it is frustrating, as are many firsts in a series. Taylor's flair with words tips the scale in her favor, however, and makes this one largely a good’n.

The experience of reviewing the audio book for Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of the more pleasurable ones. The narrator, Khristine Hvam, doesn't "do" voices, quite to the degree as many readers offer--though she certainly can. Instead, she brings the tale itself to life. The story itself is the character, as she voices it. This makes it rather intriguing, unique. Her voice is easy to listen to, without mispronunciations (thank goodness!) to draw the listener out, and she offers wonderful accents when she does do them--Karou's best friend in Prague is worth a laugh every time she is voiced.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone winds up reading like a mysterious, curious, compelling snow globe that one wants to shake it one way, turn it, twist it up again, and read from all sides. Honor. Betrayal. War. Fate. Secrets. Idealism. Racism. Magic. Vengeance. And hope. Always that: imperfect, broken, impressionable... Magical Hope.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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