Sunday, March 10, 2013

Days of Resurrection and War

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)
In The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Karou lived a strange life only to realize her origins were even more strange: she was a chimera who was secretly resurrected into a human body (instead of the cropped together bodies the Resurrectionist usually created) after her execution for loving a member of the chimeras only enemy: the angels. In Days of Blood and Starlight, Karou's guilt and pain make her become the one who can recreate bodies for captured souls: she is the resurrectionist.

As Karou takes over for the Resurrectionist, a chimera she loved dearly, she realizes her job is pressured by the needs of a war she feels responsible for creating. Chimera souls are trapped on the battlefield and brought back to her to create bodies for them to be perfect soldiers. Even still alive chimera are killed and their souls trapped so Karou can build them better bodies to fight the angels with. While hiding in Morocco, they build an army, but Karou is always singled out as the one who started the war with her relationship with Akiva, an angel and the chimera's sworn enemy. Only Thiago, the very person who executed her in her past life when she was originally caught with Akiva, will talk to her, but Karou doubts his good intentions. Still, she carries the weight of her fallen people whose souls they couldn't save upon her shoulders, and if she must work for Thiago, it is the least she can do.

Akiva watches the brutal chimera slaughters in their world at the orders of the angel emperor. Innocent, harmless chimera are slaughtered for no other reason than to eradicate the entire species. Now that the angels know the chimera secret of resurrection, they know how to prevent the soldiers' souls from being collected. But a new enemy has cropped up- an unforeseen group of guerillas who swoop in, kill angels, and mutilate their corpses as a message. Now the emperor doubles his efforts in the field, but Akiva has started a new campaign of his own: he is going to save as many chimera as he can in the name of Karou. When the angels learn there is a new Resurrectionist practicing, Akiva is afraid to get his hopes up that it might be Karou. But who else could be restoring the bodies of fallen chimera soldiers? Together, they are the star-crossed lovers doomed to love each other and fight for each other in a world that doesn't want them to love one another. But the world is bigger than the two of them, and no one knows that fact better than Karou and Akiva.

Laini Taylor wrote a stunning first novel in this trilogy, and her second novel is just as mind-blowing. This was a phenomenal follow-up that will keep you glued to it, so if you pick it up, make sure you have time to read it cover to cover! I couldn't put this book down for so many reasons, but in particular, for the many twists and turns Taylor creates that I never saw coming. In fact, the ending is so shocking I am dying to get my hands on the last book! Another reason is the chimera. They are such an interesting and varied species and the resurrectionist's job creating these amalgamations of different animals and humans is fascinating. Death just doesn't seem permanent when someone can easily make you a new body, but when it does become permanent to a species that hasn't had to deal with that before, it is devastating. This was so sad and fascinating to read about, I couldn't stop myself!

These books are very complex, and so I would suggest saving them for an older, stronger reader. If a student is a serious fantasy reader, they will probably already have the skills to unravel a new, unfamiliar world and truly enjoy this book. However, this is not a series for a younger or weaker reader, as it really is complex and difficult to piece together at times. For me, that complexity was brilliantly executed, so I wouldn't give this to a younger reader before they are ready for it and ruin the story with a series that they aren't ready for. Because when they ARE ready for it? They will be just as enamored as I am!

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