Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Friday, April 18, 2014 12:54 PM
Title: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Published: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 613
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight*
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts

and started the apocalypse.”
―Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Synopsis 
By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter? (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
With deep regret and sadness, I read the final pages of Dreams of Gods & Monsters and finished a beloved series. As this trilogy comes to a close, I am left feeling conflicted. While I couldn't help but admire Taylor's gorgeous writing style, as always, I also had higher expectations. I was hoping that the ending would leave me feeling hollowed out as if I had lost something precious. I wanted tears; I wanted to cry from the aching beauty that is Taylor's writing. Instead, I felt like the final book in this trilogy was kind of a letdown compared to how much I loved Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight.

When Dreams of Gods & Monsters arrived, I was shocked at how MASSIVE it is. Okay, I may have exaggerated, but this book is much heavier than I was expecting. I'm not complaining. I enjoy reading longer fantasy books when the story fully captures my attention. Sadly, this was not the case with Dreams of Gods & Monsters. Unlike Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight where my eyes were riveted to the page from start to finish, I found it difficult to fully immerse myself in Dreams of Gods & Monsters. I felt like the pace didn't pick up until a little over halfway through, and it took me way longer than it should have to finish this book, and this wasn't because of the book's large size. For a large part of the book, the chimaera and the seraphim are slowly testing the waters and trying to unite their forces into one army. Yes, I understand this will go down in the history books, but after 200 pages, I was expecting more to happen. Maybe, some battles, some small wins for their side or losses. But mainly it was the same message reiterated over and over again: "We are the beginning".

Following the style of Romeo & Juliet, Karou and Akiva were the beginning of a new era, a time when chimaera and seraphim could love one another, and I could understand what this means for the future they dreamed of. But Taylor kind of beat this message to death, repeating the same line constantly: "We are the beginning". After the first couple of times, it became tiresome, and I felt like its meaning was sort of lost upon me. I felt like this message didn't need to be explicitly stated, as Taylor could have taken a subtler route.

While the first couple of books focused mainly on Akiva's and Karou's rekindling love and then despair, as they rediscovered each other only to be ripped apart from each other by betrayal, Dreams of Gods & Monsters introduced the history of an entire world along with the ancestry of the seraphim. Yes, everything was fascinating and the storytelling was rich in detail, as always, but it was just way too much jam-packed in one book. I think Taylor would have been better off revealing some more elements in earlier books or extending the series. It felt almost rushed at the end, and the multiple POVs didn't help. The book constantly changes from one POV to the next, leaving with me a sensation akin to whiplash as I tried to keep up. I'm not a fan of alternating POVs, and I was hoping this story would be told mainly by Karou and Akiva as it began with them.

Despite these issues, I couldn't help but appreciate Taylor's enchanting use of words in Dreams of Gods & Monsters. I may be less than satisfied with how this series came to an end, but I have never doubted Taylor's capability as a writer. Her writing can only be called poetic, and it strikes a chord in me every time. I have fallen in love with her characters, and I was sad to see their story come to an end. As always, I found Zuzana and Mik simply delightful, and they added some much-needed humor to this darker tale. The ending was somewhat disappointing and not at all what I was expecting. It was both parts bleak and hopeful, and I found it intriguing while I also thought it could have been done better. No matter my disappointments, this series, at least the first two books, remains among my favorites, and I am happy I picked up Daughter of Smoke & Bone and took this magical journey with Karou, Akiva and all of these wonderful characters.




8 comments:

  1. I just finished this today! I totally agree about Laini's writing, it was beautiful but like you, I was expecting to be more affected by it? I did enjoy it overall though! Great review.

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    1. Thanks, Elena! Yeah, I know what you mean. I finished it feeling, well, not too much. It was sad.

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  2. I have to agree that the sudden and unexpected additions to what was - up until now - a complex love story jarred me with this installment. It was a little disappointing, certainly, and I'm quite upset that the dream Akiva and Karou strived for ceased to be the focus of this novel. But, that being said, I loved the rest of this novel and though I imagined a different ending for Akiva and Karou, I'm thrilled with what we got too. Fantastic review, Courtney!(:

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    1. Thanks, Keertana! I was also unsure of how to handle the new plot additions, and it was sad to see their love story take a backseat. At least there were some happy moments between them!

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  3. I really enjoyed this series and I loved the last book, but I agree with your review as far as there being so much jam-packed into this book. I wanted the focus to stay on Akiva and Karou, and their love story and the world they wanted definitely got pushed into the background. The story just got so much bigger with the new additions. But I still loved it. ~Pam

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    1. Yeah, I loved it for the most part too, but I definitely loved the first two books more. Like you said, their love story was almost forgotten with all these new additions, and I was not happy with that. I do hope to see more by her in the future though! :D

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  4. I was waiting to read your review until I'd written my own, but now I have. I still think that I viewed this a bit more positively than you did. But I do agree with your main complaints. After you pointed out the frequency of the "we are the beginning" thing I couldn't help but notice it. It makes the book feel slightly more juvenile in an otherwise sophisticated story, I thought. But, like you, I'm still glad I gave this series a shot.

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    1. Sorry! I didn't mean to affect your reading experience by pointing that out. It really bugged me for some reason, and like you said, it did seem somewhat juvenile and overstated. But I would still recommend this series to others because I did enjoy reading it

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