Monday, December 22, 2014

Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, book three)
By Laini Taylor
Published 2014 by Little, Brown and Company

WARNING: Spoilers ahead. Read my reviews of books one and two.

Karou now finds herself head of a chimaera army. All she wants to do with her power is find a way to peace. The only way to achieve her goal is if Akiva can convince the angels they want the same thing. Will the two find a way to stop a war between the angels and the demons? Will they find a way to live together?

When I decided that I wouldn't check out any library books this year, this book topped the list of books I'd be most sad about not reading the instant they became available. If you've been following the blog this year, you may have noticed that I fudged my no-library-books rule a bit here and there and this book became one of my exceptions. My fiance read the series and, when I checked book three out for him, I read it as well. I couldn't help myself!

I was so pleased with this book, for so many reasons. I've said it before but I'll continue to shout it: Taylor is an absolutely beautiful writer. Her way with words is completely captivating. When I'm reading one of her books, I don't want to do anything else. I find myself completely immersed in the world she's created and, as I've said before, unable to believe that these characters aren't real. What I really appreciated with this book was how easy Taylor made it to jump back into the world - it had been about 18 months between the publications of book two and three and even longer for me between my reading of the two, but I fell back into the lives of Karou, Akiva, and everyone else quite easily and happily.

Aside from Taylor's writing, her characters are another thing to love about this series. Akiva and Karou are simply meant to be and I loved reading the arc of their relationship throughout the three books. I love how complicated and how simple it is. And the rest of the characters - they are real, they are unique, they are essential to the story. My particular favorites: Mik and Zuzana (I mean, OF COURSE), and Ziri and Liraz. But everyone, really. This story would not be as lovely without all the secondary characters to provide even more depth to the story.

This volume sees the introduction of a completely new storyline. This, I imagine, is the dividing line for many readers, where people either love or hate its inclusion and, by extension, this book. Though I was unsure about it at first, I grew more and more intrigued with it and, by the end, I was just impressed that Taylor managed to introduce a new story so seamlessly into the one she'd been building for two volumes already. Additionally, this new story helps leave the path open for more books in this world - the ending is quite open to the possibility of the series continuing, though, if I had my druthers, Taylor will focus on some of those lovely secondary characters (not that I wouldn't keep reading about Akiva and Karou, but I like to think they deserve a bit of private time now).

My main complaint about this volume was I got a Return of the King feeling about 100 pages from the end - that is, it felt like I was reading the end of the book, only I knew that wasn't true because I could see I still had many pages left. It wasn't quite as bad as the multiple false endings in Return of the King but it still irked me just a bit.

Overall, this series is absolutely one of my favorites, one I hope to reread in the future, when I can luxuriate in all three books, perhaps during one long weekend. I'll continue to recommend this series to teen fantasy lovers and await to see what Taylor will come up with next.

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