Days of Blood and Starlight (by Laini Taylor)

21 01 2013

dbsThe cat’s done with the angels. And the chimaera for that matter. Cat’s had enough, no more mixing it up with the supernatural. Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone succeeded in enticing the cat, even more, for like half a book there, it looked like fantasy/supernatural stuff might become a regular on the cat’s bookshelves, but no, this one proves it: had it, schluss, over, done, there’s the door, I’m out!  And here’s a Lance Armstrong-sized confession: read this one carefully, painstakingly, up until page 200… then , what the hell, … skimming is reading too, right?

At the beginning of Days of Blood and Starlight, we learn that Karou has disappeared from Prague. After the things that happened in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the media has practically gone berserk, I mean dude, flying angels and superweird blue-haired girls and all that?  Of course, Karou isn’t dead (this being a trilogy and all), but through some not so cryptic email even her friend Zuzana (Yay! She’s still there!) figures out she’s down in Morrocco, not to get a suntan, but to bring back all those slaughtered chimaera. See, Karou has sort of joined forces with the White Wolf, or Thiago, another resurrectionist… Oh, btw, Karou totally took over Brimstone’s job of bringing back chimaera… building an army and all that… yep, the same sort of creatures that her ex-beau Akiva totally slaughtered. It gets kind of confusing here ‘cause, yeah, Karou/Madrigal, one and the same, but not quite, different bodies, old memories, whatevs.  Anyway, Akiva? Total emo-angel, with tons of guilt over having been genocide-boy and killing everyone in Madrigal/Karou’s family.  So, he wants to make it right again… like being a genocidaire can be atoned for, right? But whatever, he’s building his own private angel-army so he can join Karou’s army, and end the war to end all wars.

Maybe the one and only redeeming quality of Daughter of Smoke and Bone was – in hindsight – the fact that Taylor’s writing was so incredibly generous… but those aesthetically pleasing sentences just end up being veneer and they seriously wear off after a while if there’s no pay-off (plotwise, characterwise, …), and that’s made abundantly clear in this sequel. When you have the two most lackluster protagonists imaginable who just bend over backwards to please an evil master – especially Karou, who is nothing like the fiery girl she was in the previous book, not to mention how eye-rollingly clueless she is here – then no matter how great that language … well, suffice it to say that this reader just started to gloss over sentences. Laini Taylor so much wants her Akiva and Karou be like Romeo and Juliet (“Your family sucks, my family sucks”, “I don’t care.” “Me either.” “Let’s be together.” “We can’t.” “I know, but let’s…” ), but you know what…Those two? Also just two spoiled brats and a badly-ending case of insta-love. Not something you want to repeat… but she does, over and over and over again.

Another weak point of this middle book is definitely the lack of focus, or rather the fact that we get viewpoints galore and just when you’re about to get into one of them, pew…. gone … temporarily or just killed off or whatever.  And then when we do get back to that viewpoint, obviously Taylor has to repeat the backstory over and over again, and this book, guys…seriously, at 517 pages, it’s at least 200 pages too long!

There’s a point where as a reader you just don’t want to put any more energy in your reading. And not just because this story of war and brutality is incredibly draining, but also because the opulent writing style that Taylor has just enhances that whole feeling of being tired as a reader,… . The cat found  Daughter of Smoke and Bone also way more interesting in the Here world of Prague and Karou’s interactions with her real human friends where Taylor’s writing felt like a lush yet welcome breeze on an incredibly hot summer day. The whole alternate universe stuff – and especially when Madrigal popped up – felt like a copout. Now that it’s obvious that this is really the focus of it all, well… I guess this is where this trilogy stops for the cat.



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