07 January 2013

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

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?

My first impression after closing the cover on Days of Blood and Starlight was that for a lady with bubblegum pink hair, Laini Taylor seriously knows how to dish out some intense stuff.  There was absolutely nothing remotely cheerful about this story, but if there was anything that kept me turning pages, it was how Laini Taylor had a way of putting things that makes it interesting to read.

I had a hard time engaging in the characters.  In retrospect, I think it was because I'd unknowingly shut myself down from empathizing or forging any kind of connection with the characters.  How could I not?  The world, as Taylor crafts it so masterfully, was soaked with death, destruction, horror and gore. The story was so heavy that I just couldn't bring myself to invest in the characters.  That's not to say I didn't like any of them, because while Karou and I won't be exchanging friendship bracelets anytime soon, I certainly didn't feel any animosity towards her.

After closing the book, I certainly felt an animosity towards the plot and how much effort I had to put into understanding it.  The plot was so heavy -- the war stuff got depressing really fast -- and quite frankly, it was a bit confusing.  Some moments felt like a memoir without the historical context and other times, the scenes were disjointed and I was left thinking, "How the heck did we get here?"  Overall, however, the story worked.  I got the shifts between characters and where the stakes stood, and really, when someone's getting assassinated, that's what counts.

The one thing that impressed me the most, though, besides Taylor's way with words, was her indisputable knowledge of this world.  There were so many details -- so many random things thrown in for flavor -- that it's like Taylor herself was reincarnated from that world.  Except for the massive influx of war and death and depressing devastation, I would almost go so far as to say that Taylor's way with world-building is very Rowling-esque.  It was just so obvious to me that she was a true authority.  She knew was she was talking about, and I can't help but foster a deep respect for all the time and effort she must've put into her work.

Days of Blood and Starlight was a real beast of a novel.  Super intense and breath taking in its scope, it's not something I would ever find it in myself to read again, but I can't lie and say that I didn't enjoy reading every page of it.

I am one of billions. I am stardust gathered fleetingly into form. I will be ungathered. The stardust will go on to be other things someday and I will be free.
A dream dirty and bruised is better than no dream at all.
You have only to begin, Lir. Mercy breeds mercy as slaughter breeds slaughter. We can’t expect the world to be better than we make it.
Book Info

  • pages - hardcover, 517
  • published - November 2012
  • publisher - Little, Brown for Young Readers
  • genre - fantasy
  • received via - library :)
  • rating - 4/5
  • series - Daughter of Smoke and Bone
    • Daughter of Smoke and Bone
    • Days of Blood and Starlight