Friday, 14 March 2014

Mr B's Reading Year - Daughter of Smoke and Bone



I love trilogies. Are trilogies a genre in their own right? I guess not, but there's something about this medium that just intrinsically appeals to me. So many YA books are trilogies now that I suppose I'm not alone in thinking that. What do other people think? What is it about trilogies that appeals so much?

Anyway, before I get started I have to say: I love this book. I've seen it around on Good Reads before and it's vaguely filtered through that it might be my kind of book, but I haven't gone  out of my way to read it. Do you know how big my to-read list is?



And that's only about a quarter of it! But this one got the VIB (Very Important Book) upgrade to the top of the pile.

Anyway, I was really pleased when Emma, my bibliotherapist, sent me Taylor's novel. Here is what Emma said:

Welcome to your Mr B's Reading Year! I'm Emma and I will be your bibliotherapist for the next 11 months. With arch book you will receive a book mark where you can collect your thoughts and share them with me if you like either by post or by email. For your first book I'm sending you the first part of one of my favourite new fantasy trilogies? It is incredibly imaginative and has a very mythological feel to it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Isn't that such a nice note to receive? She picked out this book especially for me! I can't quite believe it. It was so exciting receiving the beautiful parcel with Mr B's seal on it. The whole set-up of the reading year is fantastic, it quite makes me want to be a bibliotherapist! It's fun picking books for people, particularly if their tastes are similar to yours. I doubt it's as amazing as I think; it probably doesn't involve going to work and reading from 9-5 every day...

Am I rambling? Yes. Let's get back to the book.

Emma was right about how imaginative it is; I personally haven't come across a book quite like this, although it has different elements that are similar to other novels. It has a bold start, effectively introducing you to our central protagonist, Karou, her best friend, and ex boyfriend in one go. Although a very 'every day' occurrence (a class at college), Taylor is able to make it interesting and really quite fun. We are also introduced early to the idea that Karou is different...

Although she acts like a normal college girl within her classes, she is secretly living a double life. She lives with chimera, entities who are part animal, part human in Elsewhere, another
world. She never knew her parents and these people are her family: Brimstone, particularly is like a stern father to her.

It is a very engaging, well paced novel, and I loved the nods to mythology throughout. There were a couple of points I was dubious about (for instance, Karou's best friend barely batting an eyelid when she discovers the truth about Karou) but mostly Taylor's characters were very believable. I care about them, I care what happens to them. 

Although there's some pretty heavy and difficult things going on for the characters, Taylor also manage to create humour, and some of the ordinary trials of teenager, so it never got too dark. I have a sense that the next book is going to be a lot darker than this one... What a way to end it! Complete cliffhanger, holding on the rock face and slowly slipping down... I need to read the next one soon!

Thank you very much, Emma - 4 star review.