Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #2)Book: Days of Blood & Starlight
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: November 8th, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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?
A dream dirty and bruised is better than no dream at all.
I'm amazed how this book is so much bigger than what it is. There's something about the world that Laini Taylor has created that is so... universal. It's so difficult to explain, but while I was reading it, I literally felt like I'd entered an alternate universe that was magical but realistic. Unlike its predecessor, Days of Blood & Starlight is not centered around just a group of people or a painfully dramatic love story. It is, at its very heart, a book about war, death, and sacrifice.

At the beginning, I was agitated because Akiva and Karou were leading separate lives. I desperately wanted them to meet up and renew what they'd had, but as the book progressed, I realized that this desire wasn't realistic. The book begins with Karou as the new resurrectionist, making new bodies to resurrect the chimaera soldiers of Eretz. The White Wolf watches her constantly, and she's not happy. It starts off heavy and dark, unlike the last book, which I remember as starting off with her idiotic ex-boyfriend. Instead, there are the deaths of Brimstone and the rest of Karou's chimaera family suffocating her. Many of my fellow reviewers have expressed their surprise and apprehension at the bloodiness, but I welcomed this facet. The title has blood in it; we can't really expect flowers and rainbows.

What I really want to credit Taylor on is her perfect balance of hope and pain. I never knew how things would end, and there were always different conflicts popping up out of unexpected places after a problem was solved. It was really emotionally draining, actually. Karou is suffering at first, under the tyrannical rule of the Wolf, but then Zuzana and Mik find her and they add this beautiful atmosphere of sweet love and loyalty that I found enjoyable. Their relationship is much more fleshed out in this book, and it was realistic and adorable, which grounded the forbidden love part between Akiva and Karou. Their presence made the other chimaera seem more human, and I like that Taylor took the time to explore all these different characters and make them seem real. The book isn't told from just Karou's or Akiva's perspectives, but from the eyes of many different characters. Some of them only live for three pages before they die, but it adds a very holistic view, shedding light on what's happening in every corner of this alternate universe.

Also, like the last book, this one is not lacking in plot, especially since there are multiple plot lines running through the story. In the middle of the book, I think there are like... 10 deaths within 50 pages. Taylor brings her way with words back to this one, and everything is told in such gorgeous style. Her prose is the fairy dust on top of an already magical story. Although I'm a bit upset with how little Akiva/Karou time I got in this one, the ending was the perfect balance of desolation in hope. I am in awe.

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