I’d heard of Laini Taylor before because her book of stories (Lips Touch: Three Times) was a National Book Award finalist. But the cover turned me off so I’d never read it, and at that point in my life I was reading Kelly Link’s short stories and felt that more well-written short stories that dealt with things like faeries and goblins and other strange things was too much. Of course, now I can go back and read Taylor’s previous work.Daughter of Smoke and Bone has some seriously intriguing elements going for it: Prague–I’d always wanted to go. Teeth– Creepy. Monsters.I’m very into monsters, because I was a child in the 80s.
So I read it and loved most of it… except the whole angel part. Rebecca, what is it about angels? I’ve also read Fallen and Torment by Lauren Kate and had the same reaction. Am I too old for angels? I’ve tried to think of them just as “persons who can fly” but they still don’t seem compelling to me.
As I’m not against wings, in theory, I’m thinking it has to do with two factors:
1. perceived nobility/idealisticness and
2. too much goodlookingness. I’ll go point by point.
1. Angels are going to be associated with Christianity and therefore with notions of good and evil. Now, there are some really kickass art historical interpretations of angels out there, and I totally dig Michael killing the devil whenever I see a representation of it (going back to the monsters thing, I guess). But when I think of “angel” I don’t think “moral ambiguity”. I just think “good or evil”. And there’s nothing there that makes me want to know more. I don’t want to read about someone with black vs. white thinking.
That’s obviously a problem that I have to get over because Taylor, in Daughter of Smoke and Bone has set up her book to make her angel character (and her monster characters) have good and bad sides, and good and bad secrets. So in this case I’ll say that it’s my initial angel association that I have to get over, that is tainting my reading.
2. When authors are trying to describe a humanoid being who is otherwordly they have a tendency to lean on such a person being extremely good-looking, and that just doesn’t help me picture anyone. The more hyperbole the author piles on about how perfectly unearthly beautiful their character is, the more I can’t picture the character, and the more disappointed I’ll be when they are inevitably cast in the movie version by someone who is a bland 20 year old and not Michael Wincott or Viggo Mortensen.
These are pretty general complaints and say more about me than the book that I’m supposed to be reviewing. Daughter of Smoke & Bone deserves a real review, but it is the book that made me start wondering about the whole thing. I felt my enjoyment of it suffered because in the middle of the book, where Karou and Akiva spend time together, turned the reading experience from a baklava of layered worlds full of secrets into Just Another Paranomal Love Story, and I chose to blame it on the fact that Akiva is an angel. I know that the plot in the book and in the books going forward hinges on the importance of that relationship, so I can’t say that it was wasted time, but it fell flat for me, and the angel thing is the only thing I could put my finger on.
What’s been your experience reading about fictional angel love? What did you think about Daughter of Smoke and Bone? How much do you want to be Karou and wear the mask on this cover?
Actually, I prefer this one:
Be sure to check back TOMORROW for Rebecca’s response to Tessa’s angel-angst, and WEDNESDAY for the conclusion of the discussion. Part 2 is here.
Did you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Do you want to? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!