At Book Expo America (BEA) this past year, I came home with a slew of books. Needless to say, it takes a while to get through that many books, which is why it is September and I am just now getting to my ARC of Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (Little Brown, September 2011). When I started the book, I had ZERO clue what it was about. The back of the book simply read:
“Around the world,
Black handprints are appearing on doorways,
Scorched there by winged strangers
who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop,
A devil’s supply of human teeth
grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague,
A young art student is about to be caught
up in a brutal otherworldly war.”
Pretty dark and mysterious, yes? To be honest, I like knowing as little as possible about a book before diving in, so this suited me. My interest was piqued without giving too much away. It took me a little while to get into the book. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, which left me a tad lost at first. As information about the world was slowly given to me though, I became absorbed in the story. I wanted to know. What was behind the second door? What does Brimstone do with all of those teeth, who is this mysterious angel and what is so dangerous about all of those wishes Brimstone gives to people? Needless to say, I got swept up in the story. I didn’t realize until I was getting close to the end and there was still too much story to tell with the pages left, that I may not get all of the answers I wanted. I REALLY hope that there is a follow-up book because I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!
This book was filled with magic and flying and chimeras and angels and war and death and secrets and even some sexy. What surprised me was that it could also be funny. One of my favorite lines in the book goes as follows:
“The Wishmonger’s voice was so deep it seemed almost the shadow of sound: a dark sonance that lurked in the lowest register of hearing. ‘I don’t know many rules to live by,’ he’s said. ‘But here’s one. It’s simple. Don’t put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles–drug or tattoo–and… no inessential penises, either.”
Bwahahaha! Seriously. I’ve been laughing about “inessential penises” for like 2 weeks now. Good rule of thumb though ladies. Never say I didn’t teach you anything. Moving on…
The story had plenty of surprises for me and the foreshadowing wasn’t always in-your-face obvious. The characters were all bizarre and interesting and I finished the book not sure of whose side I was on and who was really the “bad guy.” I appreciated the ambiguity. My only problem with the book was that I am not entirely in to the authors style of writing. She often uses words that sound awkward to me that would pull me out of the story, like “lostness” and “placeness.” Placeness sounds funny and while it was used in context, there were multiple instances of Taylor adding “-ness” onto the ends of words to give them a new meaning. She also repeats things in threes throughout, to drive points home. For me, saying the same word three times in a row is distracting and again, takes me out of the story. These are small pet peeves that left me stumbling through sentences, but are probably fine to most people. Maybe I am just nit picking.
That being said, I want to note that the copy that I read was an ARC and a book can change very much between the time an ARC is printed and the final book is released… which brings me to my next question-Do you go back and re-read the finished copy of a book if you have read the ARC? I ask because it is likely that issues I have with the story and writing style could easily have been fixed and I could have a more glowing opinion of the book (even though I quite enjoyed this one and plan on reading the next one… fingers crossed there is a next one!). I wouldn’t know, because I rarely go back and read the finished copy, unless the book is absolutely amazing. I know, I should read the finished book, but I only have so much time to read!
I have found that sometimes people will review books from just partial ARCs. Why do reviewers choose to review something when they don’t even have the whole book? How useful are ARCs as a publicity tool? As a publicist, I find them invaluable in order to get the word out about a book and as a reviewer I love picking them up at trade shows, but I have spoken with authors that don’t like them because they feel that often their work is put out there before it is completely done. What do you think?