December 5th, 2012

Days of Blood & Starlight

by Laini Taylor

Ana's Rating

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Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

How many times have I stated that Daughter of Smoke & Bone is one of my favourite books? Too many to count on one hand, anyway. Too many to count on both hands. For the past year, I have solidly recommended that novel to anyone who has asked my opinion on the subject. For the past year, I’ve held Laini Taylor up on a pedestal; surely, surely someone who has the ability to write the bittersweet masterpiece that is Daughter of Smoke & Bone possesses some sort of otherworldly powers. Surely I haven’t been wrong about that for all of this time.

Despite my doubt in my super hero of an idol, I will still recommend Daughter of Smoke & Bone, this trilogy’s first book, to anyone who will listen. My feelings for that novel will always remain sincere. But no matter how hard I try, I just can’t figure out what was going through Miss Taylor’s head when she wrote Days of Blood & Starlight. Perhaps she had a brief lapse in judgement. Or, you know, wanted to shell-shock her number one fan.

I’m not saying that Days of Blood & Starlight didn’t have its high points. It did. It had many of them. Every chapter ended in a cliffhanger; as a result, the ever-changing point of views were absolute torture. I had to keep reading in order to discover what happened to every member of the incredibly large cast of characters. Moreover, Taylor’s writing remained hauntingly beautiful. Every sentence was like a drop of dew on a spider web: hopeful and desolate, fragile and everlasting, a lens through which the world shone. I’ll also admit that she handles sequels rather well; usually trilogies’ middle children are mere filler books, but here the action just kept coming, secret after secret and coup after coup.

And all of that for naught. Because all through Days of Blood & Starlight, only one thought rang clearly through my mind: what happened to Karou? The tamed, shamed and sniveling protagonist whom we are forced to endure in this novel bears no resemblance to Daughter of Smoke & Bone‘s kick-ass heroine. What happened to the girl who stood up for herself, no matter the consequences? What happened to the girl who would never look down, shamefaced, or allow herself to be abased by her bruises? The girl who would never, ever let herself play the part of a pawn in a miscreant’s plot to rule the world? This Karou is not that girl. And, oh, do I want her back.

Of all of the protagonists I’ve encountered, I never would have thought that  Karou would be the one to disappoint me. Some people are strengthened by tragedy, while others are broken by it. Our favourite blue-haired heroine has, unfortunately, fallen into the latter category. For some reason I can’t fathom, Taylor has transformed her into your sad, average YA protagonist. You know what I’m talking about: she can’t go a chapter without feeling sorry for herself, she lets herself be bossed around by just about everyone, and constantly cowers in her room because *gasp!* people might not like her.

I mean, look at this crap:

Whatever went on in the ashfall landscape and blood-crusted world of war where her creations went forth to do violence, it wasn’t her concern. She conjured the bodies; that was all.

What more could she possibly do?

Oh, please, Karou, don’t pull that. Just because you have an excuse to go all submissive on me doesn’t mean you should.

Because the truth is that Karou does have a perfectly good reason to stand aside while her kind’s future is crushed and butchered. Daughter of Smoke & Bone‘s ending sort of ensured that. But for the love of Brimstone, how could she even consider that as an option, let alone embrace it? Zuzana and Liraz were probably my favourite characters in Days of Blood & Starlight, and that’s saying something.

Towards the end of the novel, Karou does man up. I appreciate that. However, she’s more bark than bite, and I’m still waiting to see her doused flame catch fire once again.

4/5 stars. Maybe my expectations were too high. Nonetheless, Laini Taylor, you still have a chance to redeem yourself. The day this trilogy’s final book is released will be a happy day!


I’ll keep you posted,

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