My opinion of Daughter of Smoke and Bone looks a lot like a valley. Looking at it from left to right, my opinion of the book was pretty high but begins to dip as I get closer to the other side. It hits the bottom and starts to rise again until finally it reaches a peak that looks a lot like the other side of the valley. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is wonderfully creative and mysterious but temporarily gets bogged down by its own clunky romance and stuttering storytelling. By the end, however, the book is as fun and engaging as it was at the beginning and it's worth reading.
Laini Taylor has created a very unique and interesting fantasy world. It's especially interesting when she dives into her fantasy head first and leaves behind the secret world within our real world fantasy that has been over-utilized. It's there and it serves a purpose, but it doesn't over-stay its welcome. Daughter of Smoke and Bone really shines when it presents story details and fantastical elements that are consistently surprising and unique. Reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone reminded me in a strange way of reading Mistborn for the first time. Both presented fantasy worlds that had semblances of other fantasy stories but really charted out their own space. Furthermore, Daughter of Smoke and Bone has enough interesting characters to give the reader a reason to care about the fantasy world they're a part of. Karou, the main character, is a strong female protagonist who I want to spend more time with in the follow-up titles.
The single biggest problem with Daughter of Smoke and Bone is its middle. There is a romantic story thread that feels so contrived and rushed that it nearly stamped out my liking for the book. Thankfully, by the end of the book the romance becomes a critical story element rather than a forced necessity because of the genre the book belongs to. I still look back at that dithering middle section of the book and wish the author would have taken a different approach, but I'm willing to mostly overlook the book's flaws because I did enjoy it a great deal.
And will I continue reading the series? I think I will. I was left engaged and intrigued enough to want to know what becomes of the characters and the world they inhabit. I'm not so compelled I'll read the sequels in quick succession, but I'll certainly get around to it.
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