One of my close friends once tried to explain her Twilight obsession by saying, “It reminds me of how I felt when I fell in love for the first time.”
I didn’t get it. My memories of teenage love were all hopeless crushes on boys that didn’t want me or feeling repulsed, confused and terrified of those that did.
Then, shortly after the Twilight fervour began, I read Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I got it. Or at least, this is the love my thirty-something-self wishes my teenage-self experienced. Although without the ethnic cleansing and civil war. Maybe.
In essence – Karou has been bought up not knowing who she is, or why her adoptive father is a monster who runs a lucrative trade in teeth. Akiva is an angel on a mission of vengeance and means to put an end to a centuries old war between the angels and Karou’s adoptive family.
(Notice the sticker. I bought it on a whim because I was in there buying the Hunger Games anyway!)
Not the best start for a teenage romance, but what I enjoyed most was that both Karou and Akiva retained a sense of self and their own truths without turning into a Romeo/Juliet style splurge. And in the end they share a goal beyond their feelings for each other. Even when they are at the most distressing of cross purposes they still have something that is more important than angst to work towards.
And Lani Taylor is an evil, evil woman. She knows just how to make you love her characters and then do the absolute worst thing to them. I’m not talking death because (for the most part) she’s far more astute and wicked than that. She makes them suffer in a way that is heart breaking, but will ultimately bring out the best (or worst, depending on what’s needed) in them and make their rewards (punishments) so much the sweeter.
And there is sweetness in watching Karou and Akiva find each other. I’m not being sappy, honest, because this is not just a book about love, but also about hope. You need both to build a better world. You need both to build a better you – and that’s where better worlds start.
In fact, my teenage self may not have appreciated it. She would have married the odious White Wolf because she’d have been too immature/afraid of upsetting him/the social censure. My teenage-self needed help. This is the sort of love to start building right now.
Fall in love, hope for the best, go and change the world. Seriously? What are you waiting for?
Laini Taylor will also have a new series coming out autumn this year…