Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

there’s a trope central to this book, that magic is fueled by pain. if so, having read this book, i am devastatingly imbued with the purest magic evar.

this book is ideal for 12-year-olds who wish to have absolutely none of their preconceptions so much as ruffled; for readers who are as insensate as bricks to torture inflicted on the language; for readers whose idea of inventiveness extends only as far as putting extra ketchup on a really bad hamburger.

let me give you an idea of just how bad it can get.

from the heroine checklist:

smarter than everybody else
with an irony-dripping sidekick who is otherwise disposable
really beautiful

from the hero checklist:
smarter than everybody else
really beautiful
ripply with muscle

how could they not fall in love? and not just love, but we are repeatedly reminded that this is molten love. humming grinding agonizing love.

so of course they do! despite having met each other only once, when they were trying to kill each other.

feels like middle school yet? oh ya, and he’s an angel. and she was reared by devils.

if you can stop the spin of your eyeballs yet, just wait, there’s more.

the language! every cliche in the book is torn bleeding from its grave to soldier on here. really important things are set off in paragraphs all by themselves. when that’s not enough, the really important things are repeated once or twice, in paragraphs by themselves, right after one another.

right after one another.
repeated right after one another.

in case you’re still not getting it, the author lets you know at every step how you are to feel about the plot events. i cringe for the workout the emotion section of the thesaurus must have gotten here. all in your service, dear reader, so that you might not misconstrue for one moment what your response is supposed to be.

i’m a big believer in leaving room for the reader–a writer has to sometimes show you what happens and let you figure out for yourself the significance of an event, or what a character’s reaction says about how they feel. but there is no room for readers of this book. we are left, like the plucky heroine, empty after the first exposure.

and that’s the other thing that gets me: ms. plucky, who had been an art student and loved drawing, etc etc, becomes a big fat nothing after falling in love with mr. angel. she is content to sit at tables and wait for him. her entire personality is effaced–everything she was becomes instead merely a blob of reactions to him.

it is efficacious, in its way, of reminding you that she didn’t really have that much personality to begin with.

i finished this book (with a great deal of skipping and skimming–it’s easy, just look for the stuff repeated two or three times, and you’ll hit the plot high points) only because i had signed up for a reader’s challenge, and it was on the list. it certainly was a challenge, but only to my sense of duty and my completionist instincts.