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Monday, November 26, 2012

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Release Date: Nov. 6, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: E-galley
Source: Netgalley
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2
Pages: 517
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?
Last year, I basically made an incoherent fool of myself in my review of Laini Taylor’s Daughter ofSmoke and Bone.  I closed that review with an open plea to all readers to pick this one up, as you wouldn’t find anything like it.  That statement has proven itself to be so true, at least until I picked up the sequel Days of Blood and Starlight.  Obviously, Laini Taylor’s never heard of Second Book Syndrome, and bless the godstars for that.  Days of Blood and Starlight is, in a word, phenomenal.

I won’t go into the plot details in this review (I’d rather not ruin the surprises for you!), but at its core, Days of Blood and Starlight is all about war, every aspect of it.  It does not shy away from the pain, the dirtiness, the ugliness than comes during wartime.  Laini Taylor takes the reader on a journey deep into the heart of Eretz, both with seraphim and chimaera, and we experience all sides of the story.   I had originally said you get to see both sides, but honestly, there are way more than two sides to this battle.  And don’t expect to have anything figured out before it’s revealed to you, because that’s when you’ll discover you have no idea what lies ahead.  There are twists and turns and dips and dives and when you think things might be okay, oh, you just wait. 

The cast of multidimensional characters is largely familiar, with a few new and welcome faces.  Karou is much altered from the girl we originally met on the streets of Prague.  She’s carrying more secrets than ever before, and she tries so hard to shoulder a burden that isn’t necessarily hers.  Akiva is as dark and twisty as ever, bringing his siblings Liraz and Hazael along for the ride.  My favorites Zuzana and Mik also return, and they provide almost all of the lighter, happier moments through the novel.  My two favorite new additions are Ziri, a “lucky” Kirin warrior, and Sveva, a young Dama girl on the run from seraphim slavers.  For Daughter, I stated that every character was awesome, that even the characters that sucked were awesome.  This still holds true for Days, though it’s more that they are all so authentic, even the most minor of beings.  Certain members of this story are decidedly NOT awesome.

Laini Taylor!  Your words!  I truly believe this is the most perfect writing I have ever read.  Ever.  Every word is essential.  That’s a brave thing to say about a 500+ page book, but it’s the truth.  I am a very quick reader, but I could not breeze through this one, not did I even want to try.  You can only immerse yourself into the vivid, sweeping landscape and hope to emerge on the other side unscathed.  The hardest thing for me was stepping out of the story to once again exist in real life, which becomes even more boring than usual.  There are no portal rips in the sky, no monstrous beasts, no wicked angels.  It’s kind of jarring.  (Via Twitter, Laini tells me that this has a name: “Reader’s Dissatisfaction with Reality Syndrome.”)

You might see all of this gushing and become suspicious.  Don’t.  Days of Blood and Starlight is the real deal.  This series deserves every bit of gush it’s received.  Do yourself the biggest favor and read this series now.  If you have, find someone who hasn’t and recommend it.  I am desperate to know what happens next, but I don’t know if my poor heart can take it.  (Yes it totally can.)

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