Friday, November 23, 2012

A surprise favorite read this year

Teen paranormal romance. Them 3 words that usually scare me. Okay, just for the sake of transparency, yes, I've read all 4 Twilight books. It was an experience all right. Uneven at best. I liked the first book and found the last book quite enjoyable. Now, for books 2 and 3, excuse me while I barf.

To compare Meyer's novels with Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone would be futile, even though they belong to the same genre. It might even seem unfair on Taylor to have her books next to Twilight in bookstores. If you read Daughter of Smoke & Bone, then you'd have this compulsion to gather all these books and place them prominently on the bookstore. I was this close to just hanging out in the teen section in bookstores and keeping an eye out on everyone buying Twilight. Then I'd shout, "Drop that silly little book, you commercially brainwashed teen!" Then I'd place DoSaB on her hands instead. I know she'll thank me for it.

Here I am gushing about a book when I haven't even told you what it's all about. Well, it's about angels and demons, or more specifically, angel- and demon-like characters. Taylor, however, goes beyond the mythology. In DoSaB, the angels aren't really the good guys, nor are the demons the evil ones. In fact, you can hardly tell who has the moral high ground in their war. It's a good thing that Taylor came up with less conventional names for these 2 groups: seraphim for the fiery-winged and celestial beings, and the chimaera for the characters whose body parts are an odd mix of animal and human body parts.

Enter Karou, a human (supposedly), who is in the service of the chimaera by providing them with human and animal teeth. Such an odd task for someone so frail looking. Then she meets Karou, a seraph of unimaginable beauty with a reputation for being a ruthless soldier. Of course, they fall in love. Of course, it's not possible, in theory. Karou is revealed to be a chimaera herself. Of course, everything gets complicated. Karou is the resurrected form of Madrigal, a chimaera who was executed after being discovered to be having a relationship with Karou.

Oy, dear reader, it's wonderful to get lost in Taylor's beautiful and brutal universe. The slow reveal of the true nature and history of the two lead characters is a delight. Their inexplicable attraction toward each other has none of the cloying taste of novels in this genre. What we have are 2 immensely relatable characters who are aware of the consequences of their actions.

Taylor's sense of place is also admirable. Prague's gloomy and Gothic atmosphere sets the right tone at the beginning of the novel, where the reader is immediately plunged into the mystifying world of the chimaera. Eretz, the home of the chimaera, is portrayed as a place of strange and harsh beauty, a vast landscape where you see chimaera in every configuration.

Why did it take too long for me to write my thoughts about this book? Well, blame it on my age. I thought that I've already made a post about it and only bothered to check because I'm reading the 2nd book. It's turning out to be just as good as the 1st. In fact, it might even be better!

Read this book if:

  1. You're willing to give teen paranormal romance a try.
  2. You've always been fascinated by angels and their fallen counterparts.
  3. You love "Romeo and Juliet."


bennardfajardo said...

I love how eclectic your choice of books are. From the obscure to the well-known, from literary to genre fiction.:D

Also, if ever I'm going give teen paranormal romance a try, I'll remember your review and pick this one up.

Peter S. said...

Hi, bennardfajardo! Yes, I'll read almost anything!

Anonymous said...

I always see this in bookstores but I never had the urge to pick this up. Your review convince me!

Yay, I'll go to NBS and buy this tomorrow (good thing I sold my Twilight books). :)

Peter S. said...

Hello, shanatalks! The books are very un-Twilight and definitely more awesome!

Bookie said...

Okay, will buy the book. Damn you and your powers of manipulation, Peter. =)

Peter S. said...

Bookie!!! You won't regret your purchase!