When I recently purchased Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I also picked up the second book in the series, Days of Blood and Starlight (YA Fantasy 513 pages) by Laini Taylor because of the description on the back of the book:
“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.”
This sounded like a book that I would enjoy greatly, that would be filled with epic battles and a world where love doesn’t conquer everything, so I purchased it with the hopes of reading something that would be at least mostly realistic in showing that the world is not filled with sunshine and happiness. Changing the world, no matter what world you’re trying to change, takes hard work, sacrifice, and isn’t just magically fixed overnight because two people love each other.
Needless to say, this book was right up my alley 🙂
I’m kicking myself in the shins a little bit because my book review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone somehow didn’t include how absolutely fantastic it was to read a book that had an amazing female friendship in it. The friendship between Zuzana and Karou in both books is an accurate portrayal of true friendship and it was one of the elements of both books that really added depth and amusement for me. The friendship was really brought out in Days of Blood and Starlight, though. In the early parts of the book, Zuzana sends some pretty hilarious emails to Karou, including the one on page 23 where Zuzana ends her email by saying, “Also: Write back to signify your continuing aliveness or I will give you the hurts.” This amused me greatly because it is one of the many times throughout both of these novels where their friendship is shown as something true and not superficial. Their friendship is fun and light-hearted and also serious and “I will risk everything to save you.” Zuzana figures out that Karou probably isn’t doing very well and so she risks everything to find Karou and do whatever it takes to help her. This is exactly the kind of friendship that is the most appealing to me. Especially when Karou demonstrates the resurrection process for the first time to Zuzana and Mik and Zuzana shows Karou the wonder, the beauty, and the art in Karou’s work. It’s at that time when Karou starts to look at the way her life is going in a different light, and also when she starts to take more action regarding what she actually wants in life. Zuzana’s return to Karou’s living area gives Karou actual life again and Karou stops being a victim and starts taking charge of her surroundings.
I think Zuzana has easily become my favorite character in this book. In a lot of ways, I think that’s because of where I’m at in my own life. She is doggedly loyal to her friends, specially to Karou. Zuzana works to find Karou and sacrifices anything and everything for her friend. I also do this. I will sacrifice everything for my friends. I also have the same highly entertaining sense of amusement as Zuzana. She is excited about things that are amazing. She works to make friends in an environment that should be hostile to her, but she makes the best out of the situation anyway. She’s adventurous and caring, dedicated and amusing. She’s a fantastic friend, and a great character in these novels.
One of the other things that really struck me as a similarity between my life and the story in this book involved Karou’s relationship with Akiva. I know and understand what it feels like to have such a powerful connection to someone and for that connection to be with someone you don’t exactly get along with at the current time. A short amount of time can be filled with joy, happiness, and dreams, but due to circumstances beyond your control, the person to whom you are connected sees you as the villain and the enemy. No matter how many times you attempt to make amends or explain what happened, you remain on opposite sides. You believe the person who represents the other part of that connection sees you only as a villain and you yourself see their actions out of context. The truth is that you are both doing the best you can to make the best out of really terrible situations and that if you just gave each other a chance to participate in open and honest communication, things would get better. This is exactly the story of Karou and Akiva, and this is also exactly my story right now as well. When a connection that powerful exists, ignoring it tends to not go very well for either party involved.
One other thing that really struck me was that I think one of the characters in the story, Liraz, is asexual. This makes me absurdly happy. On page 285, she describes her view on intimate relationships: “She had said she didn’t feel fear, but it was a lie; this was her fear: being left alone. Because of one thing she was certain, and it was that she could never love, not like that. Trust a stranger with her flesh? The closeness, the quiet. She couldn’t imagine it. Breathing someone else’s breath as they breathed yours, touching someone, opening for them? The vulnerability of it made her flush.” Liraz is also a warrior and her whole focus is on protecting her brothers, Akiva and Hazael, and the idea of sexual relations does not appeal to her. She’s a fantastic warrior and still maintains close relations with Akiva and Hazael, which shows she’s dedicated to what she does and also that she’s not an inhuman robot like people seem to think asexuals are.
I continue to be intrigued by the view of the angels versus demons aspect of this story. When shown both sides of the conflict, Karou and Akiva have both realized that neither side is actually fighting to make the world a better place. Instead, they are killing each other and innocent civilians for the sake of blood, violence, and death and not to make the world a better place. The angels aren’t the good guys any more than the chimeras are the bad guys. In both cultures, it’s actually the leaders of those cultures who are blood-thirsty tyrants who stopped being the saviors of their people and instead became the exterminates of not just their opponents, but also their own families. Thiago and Jael are doing more damage to their own populaces than the opponent. This novel shows fairly clearly the cost of war and that war just for war’s sake will only result in the death of everything, which is no life at all.
Overall, I would say this book is probably a four on my rating scale. I’m glad I own it, it was a highly addictive story for me with fantastic characters, and I am likely to read it again in the future.