Days of Blood & Starlight: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Book 2

Common Sense Media says

Action-packed sequel has lots of violence, less romance.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

As in Book 1, there are themes here of resurrection and what happens to a soul after death that can be researched from the point of view of various religious traditions. There's also angel lore here, from the plight of fallen angels to the role of warrior angels, another fascinating topic of study. Look for repeated references to Romeo and Juliet and the comedy classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Positive messages

Karou's name means "hope," a central theme through the series, exploring how hope gets the long-suffering through terrible times. War and what happens to longtime enemies are also explored, including how the enemy can easily be demonized and misunderstood and how a little bit of mercy can bring understanding. War begets more war, and those in power during wartime aren't as interested in peace as they are in picking their next target.

Positive role models

Karou and Akiva are both very complex and conflicted characters who feel a lot of guilt for their roles in the plight of their planet, and that guilt leads them to make incredible sacrifices for their causes. Since they both are under the command of warmongers, they have many doubts about the way toward peace and how they can forge it, but they continue to strive toward it.

Violence

There's lots of blood, as the title suggests, and the violence goes beyond fantasy creatures battling. It gets gory when the dead are mutilated (knives carving smiles into faces) or prisoners of war are fed slave chains or ashes of the dead. Some characters talk of being disgusted that one warrior even eats his kills. Innocents are slaughtered while they sleep or as refugees on the run or dispensable witnesses to a planned assassination. A scene of brutal near-rape is described in detail. A few deaths of those close to the main characters are reversed by resurrection, but some are beyond Karou's help.

Sex

A committed human couple talks briefly of lost virginity. There's a lot more discussion of angel emperors and commanders taking multiple lovers and forming an army with the babies born into the harem; Akiva and his brother and sister are products of this. A whole guard is set up to watch the often unwilling, shrouded concubine of the night walk to the emperor's bedroom.

Language

Pretty light for mature teen fare: "hell," "damn," "bastards," and "a--holes," uttered infrequently.

Consumerism

Time magazine gets a quick mention.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Wine drinking in one scene of celebration.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Days of Blood & Starlight, the sequel to the romantic fantasy Daughter of Smoke & Bone, has the word "blood" in the title for a very good reason. It's much bloodier than the first book, with constant battles between angels and chimaera in another world that turn gory as corpses are mutilated and prisoners are fed ashes of their dead. There's also a scene of brutal near-rape. But the book doesn't contain mindless violence. It makes a strong point that war and violence just bring more of the same and that a hope for peace can live on. Other mature content includes talk of angel harems breeding bastard children as warriors. Strong languare is pretty light for mature teen fare: "hell," "damn," "bastards," and "a--holes," uttered infrequently.

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What's the story?

Karou and Akiva, once forbidden lovers in other lives, are now separated by Akiva's betrayal at the end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. But they fight for the same thing: the continuation of the chimaera race in Eratz after their near-decimation in the great war. Karou fights for the chimaera by resurrecting fallen warriors in remote Morocco to send them back into the battle through the portal in the sky above them. She makes each chimaera even more menacing than before with her trays of teeth and tithes of pain. Akiva fights by remaining in the angels' army with his brother and sister and finding secret ways to warn innocent chimaera that a slaughter is coming. But as violence escalates and more innocents are targeted -- angel and chimaera alike -- both Karou and Akiva realize their efforts will never be enough. The warmongering leaders on both sides need to go, and Karou and Akiva need to act.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

If you've arrived at this fantasy-romance sequel to see more wild and forbidden chemistry ignite between Karou and Akiva, you may be disappointed. At first. Then you'll get drawn into the story. It's bloody and gripping and full of surprises. And a few times readers are led astray oh so carefully (whose soul did Akiva find?), making the twists even more compelling. All that is surely enough to put true love on hold for a while. There's always Book 3, and the lead-in teases up some serious possibilities.

Author Laini Taylor's writing is consistently great, which is probably why she has an adult following too, along with the fact that with a heroine like the blue-haired, dead-raising Karou there's absolutely no pigeon-holing DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT into the trite angel-romance category.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the gore in this fantasy-romance series. Is it shocking to you? Do you think it helps the book make its point about violence begetting violence? Or do you think it's gratuitous?

  • Can you think of books you've read where the violence had little message behind it? Do you watch any TV shows where it's for pure entertainment value?

  • Consider this line from Days of Blood & Starlight: "Mercy ... made mad alchemy; a drop of it could dilute a lake of hate." Why is mercy so important? How does it play out in this story?

Book details

Author:Laini Taylor
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:November 6, 2012
Number of pages:528
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Paperback

This review of Days of Blood & Starlight: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Book 2 was written by

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