Dreams of Gods & Monsters: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Book 3

Common Sense Media says

Too-long send-off to an otherwise fantastic fantasy trilogy.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Descriptions of the Vatican, Rome, and Morocco on the edge of the Sahara may encourage some Google Maps gazing. When angels come to Earth there's some talk of what they mean to humans through various religions and cultures. All fantasy has a basis in reality, of course. Readers can relate the wartime struggles in this series to the difficulty of forgiveness and peace in long-standing real-world conflicts. 

Positive messages

The name of the main character -- Karou -- means "hope," a constant theme of the trilogy. Related to hope: The difficulties of forging peace after eons of war is explored in depth. The main characters also contemplate what and whom vengeance really serves, saying "The darkness we do in the name of the dead -- [is it] what they would want for us?"

Positive role models

Karou remains a strong female character who's pretty clear in her duty to her world -- Eretz -- by the time this story starts. She puts off personal joy and fulfillment for the greater good: peace. Akiva is also high-minded and driven toward that goal.

Violence

A real effort is made by the "good guys" to avoid bloodshed, more than once. It's still wartime, however, and many lives are lost in a battle where they fight with swords and arrows. One character's kicked repeatedly, another's tortured near death, another's branded with a fiery hand print. Severed hands with magical properties are held out as weapons. Mentions of a young girl's years of abuse in a cult -- she was always on display, even as she slept. Talk of how prisoners were enslaved, tortured, and killed through ages of war, with mentions of one prisoner force-fed the ashes of the dead. Talk of an angel's punishment: wings ripped off and legs "stamped to pulps" before they fell.

Sex

Lots of talk of desire to consummate a relationship, but only kisses are described, and not many of those. Talk of humans offering themselves to angels "in ecstasy and servitude," with plenty of talk in general about humans and angels begetting children. A couple enjoys hot springs together, nothing described. An angel asks that a woman be waiting for him when he gets back from battle.

Language

"Freaking" a few times to replace the alternative. A couple of dozen uses of "damn," "hell," "goddamn," "ass," "bastard," "whore," "hussy," "wench," and "piss." One character scribbles an unknown obscenity in blood.

Consumerism

Star Wars and the Food Network each come up once.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Older (European) teens toast with Prosecco in Italy. Adults drink wine and order champagne.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Laini Taylor​'s Dreams of Gods & Monsters is the final installment in the popular fantasy-romance trilogy that started with Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Both mature themes and a mature writing style -- dense and eloquent -- make this a good fit for older teens (and their fantasy-loving moms). Wartime violence persists, but in this volume more peaceful alternatives to fighting are tried first. One key character is tortured, however, and another recalls her abuse growing up in a cult -- she was always on display, even in her sleep. Language includes a few dozen uses of words like "damn" and "bastard," nothing stronger. Older European teen characters drink Prosecco in a toast. Kisses get passionate and there's plenty of talk of wanting more, but nothing is described.

What's the story?

It was all over the Earth news: Jael and his army of angels had arrived. But they weren't those kinds of angels -- the peaceful harp-playing kind. They came for weapons to take back to Eretz so they could finish off the chimaera and wage war anew on the magically gifted Stelian angels. They made it to the Vatican pretty quickly and awaited their offers -- it wouldn't be long. That barely gave Karou and Akiva time to come up with a plan to save both Earth and Eretz. Akiva and his rebel angels were ready to fight, but they were ridiculously outnumbered. Both Karou and Akiva knew that their only hope of defeating Jael rested on an alliance between rebel angels and the chimaera, creatures that had fought a bloody and terrible war as far back as they could remember.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Fans that love this series -- and there are many -- will have a hard time letting go of blue-haired, flying Karou with her crazy resurrection powers and brooding avenging angel Akiva. This trilogy has been a deliciously immersive and imaginative ride. The ride in DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS, however, ends 200 pages later than it should. 

Laini Taylor stands out in YA lit as quite a wordsmith, but it's too much of a good thing here. Fascinating revelations come to light, but they're bogged down in pages upon pages of character reflection from far too many perspectives and pages of supposing how everything that was about to happen could possibly happen and why, and even why what just happened happened, etc. It slows the action considerably and gets in the way of the fantastic story. So much to love here, but also 200 pages too much.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what this line means to them: "The darkness we do in the name of the dead -- [is it] what they would want for us?"

  • Were you satisfied with the end of this trilogy? Why or why not? How does it compare with the two other volumes, Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight?

  •  How is this trilogy different from other angel fantasies? 

Book details

Author:Laini Taylor
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Brothers and sisters, Misfits and underdogs, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Space and aliens
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:April 8, 2014
Number of pages:624
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of Dreams of Gods & Monsters: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Book 3 was written by

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