I'm a foodie. I love to cook, bake, drink. Food is my love language. And books too. You know how some people are "cat people"? (um, PS - they scare me.) Well, I'm foodbook people. Pretty much anything I need to think or feel or say or do or be or dream can be done with food. And books. And a sometimes a song. "I'm on the floor floor. I love to dance. Give me more more, til I can't stand. Get on the floor floor, like it's your last chance."
Am I making no sense?
Let me try it like this...
Have you ever taken a bite out of something delicious that you tasted for the first time in your life...and the second it was on your tongue you feared it was going to end too soon?
If you haven't, then I suggest you get yourself to the closest Mozza and order the Butterscotch budino STAT. asdlfkjaskldjfaksjdhfkajsdhfkajdshfkjahsdkjfhasdkljfh!!! It's that good. But I digress.
I read a lot. I read fast. And I like it that way. But sometimes, as I'm reading, as I am turning the pages again and again...
I am dreading the END.
I don't want to turn that last page. I love what I am devouring, and I can't slow down. But I know it's going to end too soon. Before I'm ready. Cause the story is so good. And vividly written. And it makes me think and have fun and want more of what's on the page. That’s how I felt while I reading this book.
"A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted in the end. You should live several lives while reading." - William Styron
(isn't that why we read? to live another life...between the pages?)
I was slightly exhausted when I finished this book. But in the best of ways.
It has everything I love in a YA read.
The story is about an "Angel" who falls in love with a "Demon." Yada yada yada...But Laini Taylor goes and does something with this time old tale that no one has done before. She strips it down to the bare bones (pun intended) and changes it up so that Heaven and Hell and God and Mythology = growing up, giving in, standing firm, love, betrayal, truth, lies, friendship, first times, old habits, prejudices, and hardships.
Taylor sets her story in Prague and beautifully depicts the streets, landmarks, and architecture of the Czech city. The world Taylor creates is sweeping and a bit confusing. But still wonderful, relatable and fresh. You can see yourself walking down the streets, eating atop coffins in a dank bar, and sitting in art class. Taylor also fleshes out and fully imagines each and every one of her characters. You believe in her angels and monsters. Her human girls and boys. They make you laugh. Some make you cry. The best of them make you think.
(Serious crush on Jack Travern for most of my college years. In case you were wondering.)
Take Karou, the female protagonist. She's not innocent. But she's not ruined. She's made mistakes. She's learning as she goes. She likes herself, but she's a bit lost. I think I love Karou so much because she is REAL. She is powerful and yet flawed. She is smart. She is creative. She is humorous. You relate to her. Feel her anger. Feel her embarrassment. Feel her guilt. Feel her passion. Best of all, throughout the book, she is someone you want to root for. She also has blue hair that grows out of her head, several tattoos, and fills sketch books with vivid drawings of not so angelic angels and not so monsterous monsters. I knew I'd love her from the start.
Karou has a best friend. Zuzana.
Zuzana is fierce. And feisty. And faithful. She's also a bit of a smart mouth. Hmmm...wonder why I love her? She is a voice of reason for Karou as well as the first to help her cut loose. She loves Karou in the best of ways and supports her unconditionally. All while being funny as heck. One of my favorite Zuzana quotes, in regards to the boy she has a crush on:
“He is pretty. God, I hope he's not an asshole. Do you think there's any chance he's both non-orifice and single? I mean, seriously. What are the chances?”
Karou and Zuzana's friendship, their girly banter, the way they exasperate each other and empower one another...it's fun to be a part of it. I love YA novels where the female friend relationship is as strongly written as the love interest relationship. Smoke and Bone definitely delivers in this aspect. And speaking of love interest...
I mean, the kid is an angel. So he makes the hard decisions, battles his demons (figuratively and literally), and follows his tortured heart all while being crazy hot with secret powers and golden wings. What's not to like? What I liked best about Akiva however, is although he's irrevocably in love with Karou, he never hinders her growth or her own experiences...even when he wants to. He's protective of her, but respects her enough to know she doesn't need rescuing. His faith in her is what keeps her strong, even when everything between them starts to unravel.
Perhaps the thing I loved most about this book (other than the scenery and the characters) is it's complete lack of cynicism. For a Young Adult angst story...it was surprising to find this book was all about the "magic" that is love, peace, and hope.
”Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
That's a show stopping statement right there.
“Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.”
There are many twists and turns to this story I wasn't expecting. And deep relationships I could relate to in more that one facet. As a parent, as a friend, as a lover. While this book is considered YA Fantasy - I don't think you need to like Young Adult or Fantasy literature to enjoy it. It's beautifully written, wildly original, and smart. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Pssssst! I didn't even know it when I picked up this book...but it's the first of more. Days of Blood and Starlight is next. Tessa.