Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

12812550Title: Days of Blood and Starlight

Author: Laini Taylor

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company a division of Hachette Book Group

Published: 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-13397-5

 

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?

What I liked:

I’ve mentioned before that this novel’s tone is completely different from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It’s dark and it’s unforgiving. It deals with subject matter in a way that is not often seen in such detail in Y.A. novels. The subjects are tremendously moving in their horror and their sadness because it is all to easy to imagine these horrible realities. Taylor does not try to gloss over war or to romanticize it in any way. She portrays war the way it really is: dirty, violent, and often cruel. Taylor’s words have a sense of truth to them, not in the fictional content of course, but in the trials the character face on a daily bases: love, betrayal, anger, fear, etc. Their emotions are experienced and dealt with in a very realistic way. I think that’s, in part, why I really connected with this book.

Continuing on this vein of truthfulness, I really enjoyed the fact that actions have consequences and Taylor follows through with these consequences. In her story, if one character hurts another, that pain is not forgotten at the bat of an eye. Characters struggle to comprehend the actions of those around them, to deal with the pain, not knowing if it’s possible to move past it. They struggle to forgive and forget, if forgiveness is even possible. Harsh actions are not let go of with a kiss or a hug. Not everything is heroic and often character are forced to do things that go against their moral code. Often it’s not only a question of can they forgive those around them, it’s a question of can they forgive themselves.

This novel is also full of deception, which I loved! I’ve been joking that Taylor should have renamed the story “High-Stakes Deception.” In this terrible world, each character is trying to survive and to find a shred of happiness or peace somewhere. No one quite knows who is friend or who is enemy, and in a war that’s lasted for centuries, I believe that deception and lies come with the territory.

What I didn’t like:

Zuzana, in this novel, wasn’t as believable as I’d have liked. She really just goes with the flow as she learns about a supernatural world, taking everything is stride and participating in the fantastical world of Karou’s existence. She provides a lot of comic relief, but often times, she is so willing to accept Karou’s world, that I doubted her sincerity as a character. It was a little hard to accept her reactions and her participation in Karou’s complication and unusual situation.

Overall, this book was great. It caught me off guard with it’s tone and its subject matter. I never knew what to expect, where the story was going or how things were going to turn out in the end. Taylor is a master with words. She reveals exactly what’s important when she deems it to be important and you, as the reader, don’t even see it coming and it sweeps you right off your feet. I’m looking forward to picking up my copy of Dreams of Gods and Monsters. 

 

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