Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co (April 2014)
Length: 613 pgs
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3
Format: Hardcover, purchased Barnes & Noble (online)
Goodreads Synopsis: By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.
Common enemy, common cause.
When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.
And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.
But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.
What power can bruise the sky?
From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.
At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?
It’s so hard to write a review for an ending of a series, because how can you convey how an entire journey ends? Dreams of Gods & Monsters was a dramatic end to one of the best crafted fantasy series I’ve read in the YA genre.
It’s so hard to write a review without spoilers of this book, but what I loved about this last installment was that it brought the whimsical fairytale feeling of the first book, Daughter of Smoke & Bone and the darker, war-ridden atmosphere of the second installment, Days of Blood & Starlight. I loved that the final book in the series revisited Brimstone’s enchanted wishes, the importance of teeth, and the strong friendship between Karou and Zuze, while delving deeper into the mechanics of resurrection, the mythological backgrounds of both seraphim and chiamera, and the use of magic (this book answers a lot of the big questions that run through the series).
This book also had great character development. Characters that were initially on the periphery, like Liraz and Ziri, get their own significant roles and important story lines, rather than Karou’s narrative dominating the entire text. Mik and Zuzanna get to play an active role in both worlds (unlike in many YA paranormal/fantasy novels where the initial best friend is left by the wayside, constrained by being a mere human, while the protagonist ditches her for vampires/werewolves/angels/whatever). For me, this book was a big turning point because I actually started to like Akiva. If you’ve read my review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, you know that I wasn’t super impressed by the romantic interest in this series at first. However, Akiva really grows into a strong and determined character, and learning about his background as a Stelian and his upbringing had me warming up to him and rooting for him and Karou to finally realize their dreams of uniting to rival races and having alone time (which never really satisfying happens *sigh*).
What knocked this book one star down for me was like its predecessor, Days of Blood and Starlight, it was really slow to start. It begins with an entirely new perspective from an entirely new set of characters, which was really disorienting, and it took me a while to adjust to the new point of view before I was dumped right back into Karou’s POV right where the last book ended. I came to like Eliza and the rest of the new crew and how her story intertwined with Karou’s and Akiva’s (and even Razgut’s- yes, unfortunately he is still around in this installment, but I promise his fate is horrifying yet oddly satisfying at the same time) but not knowing why her story was being introduced in the first place as well as Karou’s beginning being slow to start brought the rating down for me a bit. Also, Taylor may tie up a lot of loose ends but she opens ten times as many new questions, leading to what could no doubt be a spin-off series, and that really leaves the reader aching to know what happens. The series doesn’t end with a happily-ever-after or even a conclusive “this is how the chiamera, seraphim, and humans all co-exist,” rather it ends with one small conflict being explained and Karou learning of many, many larger problems that need to be handled. The book no doubt ends with “hope” (appropriate for that is the meaning of Karou’s name) but it also leaves readers with a sense of loss, knowing that Eretz’s fate is not even close to being determined.
What I Liked:
- Taylor’s writing style is, as always, lyrical and unlike any other prose I’ve read in YA (or possibly ever)
- Amazing, intricate world building!
- Plot twists! I did not anticipate many of her explanations for things or how battles or plans would pan out, nor who would betray them or who would survive
- So much Zuzanna, who, let’s face it, is the real star of this novel (Neek Neek)
- A new human villain who readers love to hate
What I Didn’t Care For:
- More new questions than answers!
- A brand new narrative that starts the novels and is jarring at first.
- Some of the explanations were confusing (such as how magic worked for each different race, how the universe came to be, etc)
- Slow to start
Overall: The ending to the Smoke & Bone Trilogy is beautiful and complex and wonderful and lyrical, as long as you despite being a little slow in the beginning. Taylor has unparalleled world building skills in the YA world and leaves you wanting more, so much more, of her writing and of the world of Eretz at the end of this series. I don’t know what I’m going to do if she leaves all of these questions unanswered!
Would I Recommend It: Absolutely! It’s the best YA fantasy series out there!
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