Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book 41: Dreams of Gods and Monsters

I wrote and published this on the Cannonball Read site on 9 April.  Just finally caught up with all my other reviews so I could post it here and stay in chronological order.  Also check out Malin's review - she also loved it.
I pre-ordered this book back in January, so when I got home yesterday, this book was waiting for me.  I was both incredibly excited to start and nervous - this year hasn't exactly been a good one when it comes to satisfying conclusions (see How I Met Your Mother, and everyone's reactions to Allegiant, a book series I never started).  Of course, I actually enjoyed Days of Blood and Starlight as much as, if not more than, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, so I shouldn't have been worried since the series already avoided the dreaded yet almost normal dip in quality between books 1 and 2.  Now, I admit, I may be being a bit less critical because I love the series, and Taylor didn't mess up in the way some others did, but I really, really, really liked this novel.  Was it perfect and flawless?  No, but I really liked where the story and the characters ended up, and it was an emotional ride - there were definitely a few moments in the book when I was just thinking, "noooo" and "wait, so that means ..."  So overall, well done!
The last novel left things in a dark place but with some hope ... there was the possibility of the remaining rebel chimaera uniting with the Misbegotten, the bastard angel regiment, and Akiva and Karou were actually in the same location.  However, Jael had led a army of angels to Earth, and given that humans see angels and think "messengers of God," this was not exactly good news.  At this point, the chimaera are still facing extinction, the most evil angel is in charge, and the war might be expanding to Earth.  So definitely a dark starting point for a final novel!  And the thing is Taylor figures out a great way to plot and end her novel without it seeming out of character or out of nowhere.  Everything that happens has been alluded to in previous novels so nothing that happens can be dismissed as contrived or weak story telling.  I hadn't read a single review before reading this, so I don't want to spoil or give anything away which is why I'm being super vague here.
Taylor finally gives us answers about the Stelians, the angels Akiva's mother came from, and it is a very good background.  We also get the history by means of a different character, and the events that happened over a thousand years ago were the ones that made me go, "but that means this is even more tragic and sad because ..."
Surprisingly, Taylor actually introduces a completely new character in this novel, and her chapter even opens up the book.  While at first, I didn't find myself all that engaged with her story, and was kind of curious how she was going to play in, Taylor tied it all together perfectly!  I still could have passed on Eliza's super annoying co-worker.
While the novel goes dark places and pulls at emotions, Taylor brings quite a lot of the whimsy and lightheartedness back.  She balances the moods incredibly well, and doesn't overuse Zuzana and Mik.  I also really liked that even though we finally get resolution to Akiva and Karou as they face their feelings and whether there is such a thing as redemption, the love story doesn't take over the whole story nor are we dragged through a long triangle.  Akiva and Karou confront their feelings and their loyalties, while acknowledging the importance of their duties.
I think this was a great ending to the series.  I still wish someone would magically find a thurible with Brimstone's soul in it (that's not a spoiler, it's been established that he is gone-gone in previous novels), but it's the losses that make this series so poignant and powerful.  I loved her choice not to tie everything up in a ribbon as well.  This chapter of Eretz's history has ended, but that doesn't mean everything is over.  Taylor could very well choose to set another trilogy in this world, potentially with different characters, or she could stop it here, leaving the reader in the knowledge that the fight continues and life goes on.

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