Saturday, November 10, 2012

Book Review: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

First off, let me just say that that is one awesome cover! The red mask-like pattern is beautiful, and those eyes!! The contrasts between the black/red colour scheme and between the cursive/army font, in my opinion, really embody the dual natures of every single thing--war, people, love--that is such a huge theme in the "Daughter of Smoke & Bone" novels. "Days of Blood & Starlight" is the second installment in the series, and picks up where we left off in the first book.

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

This is not that world. 

Blue-haired Karou finally knows what, and who, she is. With that knowledge, however, came emotions of hurt, anger and betrayal, all directed at the one angel she thought she could trust: Akiva. Now, Karou helps the chimaera build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, despite the pain and the loneliness of being branded a traitor for daring to love one of the enemy, while Akiva wages a battle for redemption. For the one thing he stopped dreaming for: hope. But can Karou and Akiva find such a thing in the midst of ashes and broken dreams?

I took some of the words from the actual novel itself when writing the mini-synopsis there, and, wow, the language in "Days of Blood & Starlight" just took my breath away. There's a lyrical, fairy tale-like music to it, but at the same time it hints of a wistful sadness that befits the horrors of war that is central to the story. The emotions and images Ms. Taylor conjures from her words are all so vivid, and I could really picture the sand dunes, the out-of-this-world half beast/half human chimaera, the cold beauty of Astrae--everything. I especially loved reading the chapter titles, which isn't something you really hear everyday, since most of the time people (myself included) just skip over them to get to the actual meat. Let me tell you now, when you read the "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" series, pay attention to the chapter titles! They're so meaningful in the way that you go "ohh, that's deep" once you've actually read the chapter and make the connection, and each and every word in the titles are just infused with the lyrical quality that I just love about Ms. Taylor's writing style. Definitely keep an eye out for this!

As for the characters, I just loved, loved, loved Zuzana and Mik! Sure, they're not the main main protagonists in the book, but both of them are just so lovable. Not only is their relationship adorable--you could see that they just adored each other to bits--but Zuzana especially also just cracks me up sometimes! Her spunk and her optimistic, bubbly attitude is so endearing, and I'd say that she's a good foil to Karou's more serious nature. Hey, opposites attract, right? Even when you're talking about best friends.

I thought Karou and Akiva both could have had some kind of character development throughout the entire novel. I just found that they were both pretty much the same from the beginning til the end, and it was a little bit boring to watch. An interesting element to their relationship was the addition of another corner to the love triangle in the form of Ziri! In the epilogue you could just so clearly see the potential for some juicy romance. It'll be super interesting to see how the whole thing plays out in the next book!

As for the baddies in the book, I think that both Thiago and Jael are excellent bad guys in two very different ways. You had the calm, manipulative leader in Thiago, and the scheming, disgusting sleazeball in Jael. They make the stakes even higher for Karou and Akiva, and they clearly embody the ugly side of war.

"Days of Blood & Starlight" is a beautifully woven story of love, war, and, most importantly, hope. I found the themes of the brutality of hate and the fragile hope that somehow lives among all this hate very palpable throughout the novel, both in the characters and the plot itself. It admittedly was a little bit long and could've been condensed just a little bit, but other than that, definitely worth a read.

Rating: 4/5

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