Title: Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Synopsis: Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—andwhat 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.
My Rating: .75ish
Unfortunately, the second installment to this YA fantasy series fares no better than its predecessor. Days of Blood & Starlight is an inflated clunker of a book that once more proves that unless you have a story to say that takes up 3 books, you shouldn’t make a trilogy. A good 70% of this book was unnecessary and I mean truly unnecessary. The Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy, in case you didn’t know, is about angels and chimera and their eternal epic battle for power/life. Book 1 followed a fairly straight forward retelling of Romeo & Juliet as an angel and a chimera fell in love and everything went to hell. I gave Book 1 a total of 3 ½ stars, it would’ve been a solid 4 star book had the book not suffered from one of the worst cases of insta-love I’ve seen. Despite the serious short-comings, Laini Taylor knows how to craft mythology, she knows how to make things different and she creates decent good characters (bad characters not so much but more on that later). That was book 1 and in this second book her main character suffer quite a lot, in my opinion.
From now on, spoilers will be present.
Like many 2nd books in a trilogy, our couple is separated as they each have their own lines of plot to follow. Akiva, Prince of the Bastards, plans to overthrow his horrible father along with the help of his brother and sister. Karou, hope of the Chimera, is stuck in the desert of Morocco reviving the fallen Chimera at Thiago’s bidding. I felt like the Karou from Book 1 was gone, her strength and her determination was diminished for the sake of plot, letting Thiago manipulate in the most obvious of ways. She flounders a lot, granted she is in mourning and she feels incredibly guilty but I think these feelings do not remove personality traits from people and I did feel that her personality was lost in this book. Considering that Karou was such an important part of Book 1, her unique personality, having it missing in this book was a deterrent.
Second massive – fucking huge – problem: the plot is severely stagnant for the first half. We are all literally waiting, even the characters. This is the waiting book which again, very common for a second book when a series should’ve been a duology, at most. When I finished Book 1, I had high hopes for the second installment but instead it takes about 100 pages for Karou (our main freaking character) to even appear. Taylor also decided to introduce many other POVs – in Book 1 it was 2 POVs that we had, in Book 2 it was inflated to 5 or 6 – way too many. IMO, this book should’ve started with Suze and Mic reading about missing teeth – this would’ve landed us in the middle of the plot without all the endless pages before it. Another thing that I can see as only it being me annoyed by this but what is the point of Suze and Mic? Technically speaking you can remove them and there would’ve have been alternatives to them.
Now let’s get on to the love story because I think we’re supposed to feel the feels. Unfortunately given the fact that we are dealing with the sequel of insta-love I still find their entire love drama unappealing. I feel that they are better and stronger characters alone than together. Actually, this series would’ve benefited from the slow burn – have them establish a friendship that grows to love. Far more believable – plant the feels and they will grow rather than give me a tree that is already grown.
Final thing I’m going to mention – the bad guys are such one-dimensional characters. Thiago, Ten, the King and Jael – all of them are just evil for the sake of being evil. And I mean eeevil! That final scene with Thiago was just… despite it being an emotional punch it felt almost manipulative from the writer – a reason to justify Karou killing him and to me she had plenty of reasons already, he was an evil motherfucker, he killed her and tortured her lover for days. When he killed Madrigal she was under his power – why didn’t he rape her then? Why now? We don’t know anything about him or his motivations because not only is he one dimensional, there really isn’t much to him other than I’m a bad, evil, killer and rapist.
The ending – the last 150 pages were a vast improvement but by then I was annoyed, as you can imagine, and frustrated. Now, the final book is a fucking ridiculous size, clocking in at 613 pages I hope that it’s not 30% filler until we get to the massive battle scenes we are being promised. I don’t know when I’ll read it; this story has never left me thirsty for the next installment, if that makes sense. My enthusiasm for where Taylor is going with this continues to diminish and I am hesitant to pick it up. I’m contemplating just getting it in audio book this way I take my time with it and not having it staring at me from my night table.
I was pretty rough on this one but please understand that it’s more out of disappointment because Laini Taylor creates such great mythology, the entire world is fresh, new and filled with possibility. I’m just not sure this particular series needed to be a series and I don’t think it was crafted to the best of its potential, for me the detractors outweigh the good points.