Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Title: Days of Blood and Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Publication Date: November 6, 2012
Source: Borrowed
Overall: 4/5 

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.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

 Review:
Ah, DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT. The sequel to the book (DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE) I was SO ON BOARD WITH . . . until the last 100 or so pages for reasons I will not get into here (I wrote a review on DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE though, in which I talk about my Big Frustration with it). But anyway, let bygones be bygones and such.
There were some aspects of DAYS I liked better than DAUGHTER, some aspects I didn’t. Overall, I am glad I decided to read the sequel.
For one, I think Laini Taylor is really, really good at characterization. Almost every character, to me, felt real and drawn out. Like, I remember reading DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE and thinking, “Karou is so the type of person I would like to hang out with.” Not because I particularly thought we would be great friends (I don’t really think we would at all), but because she was a really interesting character with a lot of scope and a lot of little quirks and behaviours that made her a real person. And yes, I do think this extends to DAYS. Even though Karou might have been a little more . . . subdued? unhappy? than in the first one (a change that was absolutely necessarily and is a reflection of the events happening which, um, yeah, she’s allowed to be a little unhappy), I still was totally drawn to her.
And then there were the other characters—Zuzana, Mik, Akiva and his brother and sister, as well as a few minor characters—who all got larger focuses thanks to the omniscient narrator. Admittedly, I wasn’t too thrilled about following around so many characters. At times I thought it made the book really tedious and overwritten in the sense that I was reading about events I didn’t necessarily need to read about. But those other focuses did go to show how great Taylor is at creating good characters.
And the writing? I feel like I liked it better in the first book. Sorry. I mean, it was good and all. Taylor is definitely a talented writer. But at the same time, the writing didn’t draw me into DAYS as much as it did DAUGHTER. The inner editor in me kept shouting, “Does this paragraph *need* to be here? Isn’t this a bit *overwritten*? Doesn’t this sound like it’s trying *too hard* to sound epic and lyrical and beautiful?” Which will absolutely take me out of a story and make me enjoy it less. And I think that was the reason I never got the feeling that I *needed* to read this book. It was the reason I went from thinking, “this book has great pacing to go along with a great story” to “can we just get on with it already and get to the good stuff?” DAYS was a book that I could easily put down and not feel the urge to pick it back up again.
But the parts that did make me go, “Yes, yes, this is incredible”? The action. Oh, yes. Taylor does not hold back anything. Both the angels and the chimaera make great villains (something I never thought I would say about angels). (Side note: I think it’s pretty cool that the chimaera are initially presented as the “good guys” and the angels the “bad guys,” which is a twist to an old story that creates a lot of tension, both within the text and with a lot of readers, I’m sure . . . myself being one of them). Anyway, DAYS gets further into the whole political issue between the angels and the chimaera, and we learn that neither side is as innocent (or as bad) as we may believe.
I love that Taylor does not gloss over any of the violence and the dirty, gritty details of war and torture and all that, uh, not-so-fun stuff. Really, truly, that’s what sucked me into the book and drew me into the story and made it all seem *real*. Because there are times when these people, these chimaera and angels, are so cruel and so merciless, and the moments were lingered on and just detailed enough, that you can feel every single moment. And that’s what makes a book real. Even in a story of unreal creatures and classic stories turned on their heads.
And the violence isn’t just there for the sake of having violence. It has a point. It’s necessarily. It’s real. It perfectly fits the story. And I think it takes a really talented writer to create that balance between what is necessary and what is glorified or there just for shock.
BUT (there’s always a “but,” isn’t there?) the biggest thing that annoyed me about DAYS was the fact that I thought a lot of the action was glazed over. By that I mean that chapters ended on cliffhangers, only to be resolved that next time we went back to that character (remember, altering points of view because of the omniscient narrator). And I think what happened was that a lot of the action was glazed over for the sake of having shocking twists later. And once those shocking twists were revealed, *then* the book would go back and retell all the action we missed previously. Which is really annoying. Because when the action is only *retold* then I ALREADY KNOW THE RESULT. And when I already know the result, that action loses all of its tension and intensity because I KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. Yes, the action can still be really, really well-written and detailed and perfect, but I think when you’re going to have big books like this that rely on there action, the tension created by that action is an essential element. And this book really lacked that during those retold scenes. Which was most of the action scenes.
And this is just my own speculating really, but I think that when that action was glazed over and retold later, went along with the book trying really hard to sound lyrical and beautiful, which, in effect, ruins the harshness and brutality (and tension) of the violence and action. (And, uh, I don’t *totally* get what I’m trying to say there myself, but if anyone does, great.)
But in the end, I thought this book was a great sequel. Awesome story, really progressed the plot and developed the characters and there relationships in a perfect way. I just wish it had been about 150 pages shorter. Not because I can’t read long books, but because I think the book really would have benefited from it. Anyway, four stars from me. Definitely recommend it for those who read the first one, even if you were unsure about reading the second one. It’s a good one.
 
An Enjoyable Read, Well Written, Recommended
**Please Note: This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.**
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