Thursday, November 22, 2012

REVIEW: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #2) Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Long Review, Spoilers, Rant

"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well."

And the story sucked. The story was like a trash can full of children’s thrown-away arts and crafts topped with their snotty tissues and moldy, forgotten lunches.

The Writing

The writing was lyrical but it had the tendency to be verbose which induced skimming. I wish the book spent more time telling the story instead of waxing poetic. The writing wasn’t much of an issue for me in book 1 but here in book 2, exacerbated by other bigger issues, the writing quickly became a marsh to wade through.

Worse, the beginning of the story took a couple of chapters before reaching the heroine’s PoV. The plot capriciously alternated between the heroine, the heroine’s ex-boyfriend, the heroine’s best friend, and some random chimaera runaway slaves.

The Characters

+++ chimaera runaway slaves

The chimaeras’ scenes were short, but they still bogged the story. I think they were supposed to show an outsider’s PoV to the moral development of the Misbegotten, the ill-treated seraphim soldiers/bastard children of the seraphim emperor. Whatever the reason, I didn’t want to read about these random chimaeras.

+++ Karou’s human friends

Karou’s best friend, Zuzanna, and tag-along Mik were stupid and pitiful. Mostly stupid. These idiots should have been left in book 1, but instead they decided to chase after Karou, walking into the arms and claws of her monstrous, hostile chimaera compatriots. From the start, it was obvious to me that Karou’s human friends were cannon fodder waiting to happen, and I was half-right when they were later held hostage.

What really frustrated me about these characters was that they didn’t take Karou’s situation seriously or realize their own precarious place. Their attempt to inject levity into the story more than failed; it offended me.

+++ Karou’s ex-boyfriend: Akiva

The plot leaned heavily towards his PoV, and I didn’t like how it took the spotlight away from Karou, the star of the series.

Akiva was emo. For 2/3 of the story, he didn’t seem to do anything but brood, pine, and despair. Karou this, Karou that, Karou is dead again (he believes).

Then in the last third of the story, he suddenly went homicidal and unwittingly prompted another seraphim invasion. Akiva isn’t a megalomaniac dictator but based in book 1 and 2 and the various flashbacks between the two books, his action resulted the same kind of consequences that would be caused by one.

I disliked Akiva in book 1, and I continue to dislike him some more in book 2.

+++ the heroine: Karou

As if Akiva wasn’t bad enough, Karou was worse. Head-repeatedly-banging-on-desk worse. The biggest reason that kept me from hating book 1 was because of Karou. She was quirky, she was assertive, she was...kind of violent to be honest and I loved it. The girl didn’t hesitate to threaten and spill blood to get her way — not when her loved ones were on the line.

In book 2, there was none of that willfulness. She was weak, she was vacuous, she was irresolute and I hated it. I could understand Karou having weak moments after being blasted with multiple bombshells of revelation and memory-gain at the end of book 1, but this wasn’t a series of weak moment. It was a severe character regression, and it contributed to a hurricane-sized disaster of a book.

Moreover, when did Karou became a Resurrectionist? How was resurrection done? Were souls a physical object or something? I don’t recall the magical explanation in book 1 and none was rehashed in book 2. For a magical story, there was little talk about magic. Book 2 made me feel that there were logic holes in the story’s magic system.

+++ the 2nd Ex-boyfriend: Thiago

Karou threw her resurrection service and trust to Thiago, another suitor of hers. Whereas Akiva was emo, Thiago was a bastard and gave no semblance of a good reason to be trusted. Thus, it was no surprise that he betrayed her.

Throughout book 2, Thiago betrayed Karou many times but the twit kept residing at his place and didn’t do anything to fight back. Oh sure, she did make a few attempts but they were half-assed. I could understand being caught off-guard after he betrayed her for the first time (in book 2, present plot), but there was no excuse for Karou to keep falling for his betrayals — one predictable betrayal after another.

After the event of book 1 ending with Akiva’s confession of genocide (along with other instances of betrayal against her), Karou should have lost her capacity to trust. It was unnatural for Karou to remain trusting in book 2.

Karou danced to Thiago’s overt manipulations, and it was awful to watch. If she couldn’t come up with a good plan and actually fight back, the least she could have done was leave and stop resurrecting his allies/her haters. The story exemplified many times that Thiago needed her more than she needed him; Karou was the only living resurrectionist.

I kept waiting for Karou to end Thiago already because the Karou in book 1 would have done so the instant the bastard crossed her.

The Plot

+++ the rape

Lo and behold, towards the end Thiago attempted to rape Karou. Thank goodness she prevailed and finally, fucking finally, ended the bastard’s life. But holy fuck! The rape attempt astounded me. After the moment of shock, I got angry fast.

I expected better from the series. I expected the series to avoid and disdain rape as a plot device. Book 2 could have stopped there with the fuckity. But noooo. It fucking did not.

+++ the fuckity continues

At a later scene of the ending, Karou resurrected Ziri in Thiago’s body, her rapist’s body. Wait, what?! Enters a fucking ridiculous chapter of a flashback to explain why. The reasons given were abysmally contrived, as if they were pulled out at the last minute out of some godforsaken shithole.

Ziri was Karou’s third suitor, which officially made Karou in my eyes a Mary Sue. Ziri was the story’s one and only decent romantic interest, and the story fucked his character beyond comprehension!

Beyond comprehension!

In Conclusion

I rate Days of Blood and Starlight 1-star for I didn’t like. 2/3 of the story was dull and confusing; the last 1/3 was confusing, infuriating, and exasperating. There didn’t seem to be any sense in the story, and towards the ending twists and turns were thrown out haphazardly like mud. The rape part buried the book.

The series started off as a different, intriguing way to do angels and demons YA; I do like the dark fairy tale vibe. However, like most of its brethren this YA series became a Disaster with a capital D.

If you loved the first book, you’ll likely love this second book. If you’re tired of disastrous angels and demons YA, avoid.

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