Monday, August 25, 2014

Review - Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3)
by Laini Taylor
Date: 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 624
Format: e-book
Source: library

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Well, that was... epic.  I don't know if I've ever enjoyed the final book of a series or trilogy so much.  If I have, it's been a long time since then.

Laini Taylor did an amazing job of building these fantastic worlds, populating them with remarkable characters, and setting the story in motion through a complex web of events that could have easily been one big chaotic mess in the hands of a lesser author.  Resolutions that might have seemed like cases of deus ex machina made perfect sense in light of the groundwork that had previously been laid.  New characters that were introduced didn't seem like conveniences so much as essential parts of the story that fit perfectly into the puzzle of the whole.

While Daughter of Smoke & Bone was mostly Karou's story, and Days of Blood & Starlight really belonged to Karou and Akiva, Dreams of Gods & Monsters switches between even more points of view, bringing minor characters into the forefront.  I thought the characterization of Karou and Akiva did suffer a little bit because of this, but since we already know the main characters from the previous books, it didn't have a huge detrimental effect.  I honestly don't know how else the story could have been told; it was huge and ambitious, and limiting the points of view to just the main characters would have done the whole book a disservice.

I did have a couple of minor complaints.  One was to do with the English language as a default (which I also noticed in Days of Blood & Starlight).  Some of the plays on words simply would not be possible in languages other than English... and yet, there they are.

My other complaint was the length.  I can't really think of what could have been cut (since cutting anything would have sacrificed some beautiful writing), but I found myself a bit bogged down at times.  At upwards of six hundred pages (making it about 100 pages longer than the second book and 200 pages longer than the first), it's a bit intimidating... especially when Taylor's immense vocabulary forces you to the dictionary every few pages.  For that reason, I might hesitate to recommend this book to younger YA readers, particularly if they didn't absolutely love the first two books.

Setting those two small issues aside, I really enjoyed the whole series.  It's intelligent, thoughtful, imaginative, romantic, emotional, and satisfying... which is something I've been looking for in a YA series for a while.  I hope Laini Taylor continues to write and grace us with her beautiful imagination.

Quotable moment:

The feeling, it was the sense of waiting drawing to an end. Not dread waiting, but excited waiting of the best kind: waiting for magic.

Recommended to: fans of the first two books; readers who like fantasies with amazing world-building and well-developed characters

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 5/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.29 out of 5 ladybugs

1 comment:

  1. "Well, that was... epic. I don't know if I've ever enjoyed the final book of a series or trilogy so much." Couldn't have said it better. I also agree about the complexity and vocabulary making this suitable for more sophisticated readers -- who have made it through the first two. Great review!