Nothing makes me more upset than a book that started out promising, only to take a nose-dive in the last half. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
was one such novel for me.
In the beginning I loved the story of Kaoru, a blue haired art student living in Prague (my favorite city!) She runs gruesome errands for her adoptive father, a chimera, while trying to lead an ordinary life at the same time. This premise showed great promise - I wanted to find out more about her childhood, and I was interested to see her struggle, caught between two worlds.
Unfortunately, halfway through she meets her love interest, Akira, and things take a sharp nosedive. Akira is, to be blunt, a dull character. He's perfect physically, which we are told ad nauseum by the MC and her friends. Oh, but he's also sad and brooding! Basically he's a checklist of YA fiction cliches. Karou, naturally, is irresistibly drawn to him. The minute she meets him, she stops being an awesome kick-ass female character, and instead turns into a clingy, lovesick bore. Yes, there is insta-love. Lots of it.
At this point I was willing to give the novel three stars, but then we got to the end. Laini Taylor makes the choice to spend several chapters in another character's head, in flashback. Then, of course, it turns out that Kaoru is reincarnated from this woman. She gets her memories back, and it feels as though the character we have known for the whole book disappears. I didn't care a bit about Madrigal, who was a Mary Sue to the extreme, more than Kaoru. I certainly didn't care about her forbidden love story.
In the end the book feels like a long setup for the series, and ends on a cliffhanger. I'm used to this, I suppose, but I wish authors would't do it. I like books to have endings, even if you are beginning a series (see: Harry Potter for a good example.)
On the plus side, the prose in the book was well written. The Chimera were interesting creatures, and I would have liked more about them, less about romance. A real fantasy novel set in their war would be really interesting. I just don't care about romance, at least not romance that eats the entire book. I can't recommend this one.