Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading Days of Blood and Starlight

Monday, November 5, 2012

Just Finished Reading Days of Blood and Starlight

Days of Blood and Starlight
by Laini Taylor
To be published by Little, Brown BYR
on November 6, 2012

Source: e-ARC via NetGalley



Summary (from back of Days of Blood and Starlight Exclusive Extended Preview copy):

Art student and monster's apprentice, Karou had always burned to know where she came from, and where she belonged. With the simple snap of a wishbone, she now has all the answers. But along with the truth she sought comes another she would do anything to undo. In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she'll go to avenge her family. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, betrayal and secrets, Days of Blood and Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposite sides of a war that rages across worlds.

My take: In a word: WOW. Laini Taylor has produced a haunting, heartbreaking second installment in this fantastic series.

This review should be spoiler free for both books and will start with a mini-recap of book one...

Daughter of Smoke and Bone deals with issues of identity, as Prague art student Karou struggles to uncover the mysteries of her past. Everyone in Karou's art class thinks that the crazy drawings in her sketchbook come out of her vivid imagination. In fact, the chimaera that she draws are real. Karou can open ordinary-looking metal doors and access a secret workshop or magically step into the streets of Paris or Marrakesh. The secret workshop she visits belongs to Brimstone, her guardian. Part crocodile, part lion, part ram, he crafts necklaces made of bone and teeth, beads and gems. Karou doesn't know why he strings the necklaces, but she obligingly uses the portal doors to gather supplies for him from around the world. When she crosses paths with Akiva, an angel, she's finally able to unravel the mystery of her former identity, of the bone-deep enmity between angels and chimaera, and of the special connection she once had with Akiva.
"Her [old] life ... was twining itself into her life as Karou, and it was fraught with death, with loss, and at the core of her stunned grief was the knowledge that she had enabled it."
Just as Karou feels her old and new lives twining together, Days of Blood and Starlight more fully twines Karou's memories of her past into her present, circling back to offer even more details about some of the dramatic events touched on in Smoke and Bone. That book ended on a note of tragedy and betrayal, and Days of Blood and Starlight continues on in the same vein.
"Looking back now, Karou could scarcely believe her own naiveté, that she had believed the world could be some other way, and that she could be the one to make it so."
Daughter of Smoke and Bone was about the quest for truth, but sometimes hearing the truth can be hard. In book one, Karou was a quirky, carefree art student. In Days of Blood and Starlight, she has become older, wiser, and much sadder.

“In the cycle of slaughter, reprisal begat reprisal, forever.”
Days of Blood and Starlight is a grimmer, darker book than its predecessor, a story that takes an unflinching look at the repercussions of hatred between groups and the seemingly endless cycles of war and bloodshed and retribution that can ensue. I recently read the Iliad as part of a book club, and at times the blood feud depicted here had that same sort of tragic/epic feel, evoking that heartrending mix of bravery and futility with which soldiers march into battle. There's a heart-stopping confrontation between two renowned warriors that reminded me a little of the showdown between Hector and Achilles.

Yes, Days of Blood and Starlight is dark at times, but this darkness is balanced out with some lighthearted moments. That's one of my favorite things about Laini Taylor's writing -- it manages to be both lyrical and melancholy, both whimsical and resonant. This book has many suspenseful, tense moments, fantastic plot twists and deeply emotional scenes.Though the story's setting moves from Prague to Marrakesh, Zuzana and Mik appear to provide some much needed comic relief. Pop culture references, from Monty Python to the Clash -- also serve to lighten the mood at times. Not only do old friends (and enemies) reappear, there are also some fantastic new characters -- let's just say I was happy every time Ziri appeared on the page and hope he'll have a big role in the next part of the story.

If Daughter of Smoke and Bone was about resurrection -- the smoke used to lure the souls from dying bodies and the bone that Brimstone crafts into necklaces -- then Days of Blood and Starlight balances grim bloodshed with glimmers of hope. There is plenty of death in the book, both literal casualties of war and the metaphorical death of trust and love and honor and innocence. But ... there is also stardust. Karou says:
"It doesn't matter what happens to me. 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 some day and I will be free."
Once upon a time, two lovers dreamed of the world reborn. Both their dream and their love died. Can both love and starlight shine out of the bleak darkness in this story's next installment? You can bet I'm going to be there to find out!

Be sure to stop by Hot Off the Presses tomorrow, because this book will be one of the winner's choices!

38 comments:

  1. I can't wait to finally get my hands on a copy of this book! I'm so glad you enjoyed this book and it wasn't a let down from the first book. Great review :)

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  2. I had problems with the love story in book one so I wasn't chomping at the bit to get this sequel like a lot of other people were. I am really interested though in the cycles of war and violence that you identified as a theme though. I read something else that mentioned that and it's something I'm interested in in real-life. This is all a long way to say that I will probably read this second book at some point. Thanks for the review!

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    1. I hope you do read it -- and be sure to let me know what you think!

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  3. Amazing review! I really need to pick up Shadow and Bone before 2012 ends! Plus all the covers are amazing!! 0.0 :)

    Happy Reading Jen! :D

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  4. Glad you enjoyed this book! I hope I can pick it up and like it :)

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  5. I can't wait to read this book!! I loved DoS&B and I am so glad to hear that this one is amazing too! Fab review!!

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    1. If you loved book one, I have no doubt that you'll love this!!!

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  6. There is just so much to say about this book!!

    I want something specific to happen with Ziri - I will DM you lol

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    1. I LOVE your idea for Ziri. He is such a great character..

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  7. I love the covers on these, and want to make time to read the 1st.
    Thanks for the reviews, you make the books sound so good.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  8. Holy Crap, what a great review! I'm on a reading/ reviewing sabbatical this week but I HAD to pop over and comment because you KNOW I have been waiting to hear your thoughts on this book! And you compared it to The Iliad! Yeah, if I didn't already pine for this book I would now for sure:) I'm thinking I may need to do a D of S&B re-read before I start Days of B&S, just to recapture the whole mood and feeling:)

    Brilliant review.

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    1. Enjoy your week off!!!

      I need to go check out some Laini Taylor interviews -- I'd bet that she is someone who reads very widely, from mythology to classics to graphic novels and everything in between. I just want to live in her imagination for a day....

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  9. Ok...I didn't read your review/post because I still need to read the first book, but it reminds me that I really need to pull it off the bookshelf and read it soon. I've read so many great reviews of the first book and will be getting the second so I can read them back-to-back :-)

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  10. This is a fantastic review! I'm so excited to read this book. But also extremely nervous about what is to come. I've been re-reading DS&B on audio and I feel so emotionally involved in this story!

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    1. I found this book even more emotional than the first. Loved it!

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  11. Always glad to hear when a second book in a series does not disappoint.

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  12. I still have to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but I loved your review of this. It was so beautiful and definitely convinced me I need to read this series! Glad to hear that both books are amazing. Can't wait to read them :)

    Jesse @ Pretty in Fiction

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  13. Yay! I just got this today and can't wait to read it!! I actually really liked the love story in the first book, so I hope it's even more epic in this one.

    Great review!

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  14. Really really really nice review!! Thanks so much for all the teasing quotes lol!!! Happy you liked it ;)

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  15. Awesome! Now I'm twice as hyped up about this book! I really can't wait, and after reading your review, I'm now part terrified part excited to read it!

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  16. Skimming this because I haven't read this. I can't wait for my copy to arrive!! ;A; My copy was shipped early but won't be here for about 2 weeks..sigh.

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  17. I'm still in 2 minds whether to read this one, I got a little bogged down in the second half of the first one, and if this one is darker I'm not sure I'll really appreciate it.
    so glad that you enjoyed it though!

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  18. Great review! I really enjoyed DoS&B and can't wait to read this novel-thanks so much for making the review spoiler free. I wanted to know that this book is just as good as the first but I've been shying away from reviews because I didn't want to spoil anything!

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  19. I still haven't read the first book. Don't want to,not until I get my hands on this beauty.

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  20. Great review! I haven't read the first book yet, but it's patiently sitting on my bookshelf. This series sounds really amazing - I can't wait to read them!!

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  21. Another fabulous review! I still need to read the first book and now that I read your review I am kicking myself because I want to read this one NOW! I also have to admit that I kept getting the title of the first one mixed up with another book that sounded very similar and it led to some library confusion. The amazing covers help me figure it all out.

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  22. I just downloaded this on Audible and I am chomping at the bit to read it! I really thought I wouldn't like the first book, but it really blew me away!

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  23. I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone SO much! Now I know Days of Blood and Starlight is just as good! I hope to read it soon :) thanks for your review!

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  24. I loved Ziri, too...almost as much as Zuzana. Must be something with names that start with "z". :P I just want to crawl inside Laini Taylor's head and set up camp. Can you imagine the brilliance in there? :) Seriously, great review...you touched on everything I loved about this book and more. Your reviews are always so eloquent and informative while being completely spoil-free.

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  25. I'm so excited to read this one! Also... what kind of book club are you in Ms. Smartie pants?

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  26. Eep I still need to read book one! Great review!

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  27. Great review! I cannot wait to read this book! I read the first one a couple months ago! Borrowed it from a friend and fell in love!

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