It’s been a long time since I’ve started a book knowing nothing about its plot. I was impatient to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone based on the general hype, a blurb from a favorite author, and a recommendation from a local YA librarian.
As promised, it started out great with a refreshingly unique premise. Karou is an art student in Prague. Her friends love to look at her sketchbook, which contains recurring drawings of four monster characters. In actuality they are Karou’s adopted family, who she visits through magical portal-doors. Her father figure, Brimstone, conducts business with nefarious lowlifes where they bring him teeth in exchange for wishes. Main questions of the book: Why was Karou raised by monsters? What’s up with the teeth?
So far so good.
Then Akiva arrives. The overly beautiful angel bent on destroying the portal doors and the monsters themselves.
I’m incredibly sick of beautiful boys. You know, the love interests so gorgeous the girls, at first sight, are struck dumb with awe. Who are always tall, dark, and handsome, constantly brooding over a troubled past, and inexplicably have no idea they’re beautiful. They are seriously boring and cliché.
Oh. My. God. I am officially old.
What’s bothering me is not that they’re pretty, per se. It’s that they’re a formula, over-used and completely unrealistic in how they interact with other characters and how those characters react to them. I don’t care if the story is contemporary, historical, paranormal, fantasy, or sci-fi, the characters must be realistic in their actions and, even if they are not technically our species, have some humanity (aka flaws). A love interest needs depth and character development. Akiva? He’s a shallow paper cut-out labeled “Beautiful Boy.” With wings made of fire. So tempting, let me tell ya.
This cliché is not the sole property of YA, regardless of the Edward Phenomenon. The Beautiful Boy is in every genre. He’s a male Mary Sue (apparently called a Gary Stu! Ha!). The male Manic Pixie Dream Girl. We’re going to call him Beautiful Pixie Dream Boy (BPDB).
This rant may have been building up for a while but it finally overflowed onto this post because I was expecting so much more from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. We differ in our opinion in that I genuinely enjoyed the beginning of the story. Heck, I was engaged the entire first half of the book. An exotic setting? A main character that calls monsters family? A family who collects teeth as payment? You can’t say that’s been done before and I bought it, hook, line, and sinker. I was even on board with the fiery, merciless angels, pretty boy or not.
But then the book changed from an unusual mystery/adventure into a typical paranormal romance where our main character loses all her sense of self at the sight of BPDB and becomes unrecognizable to the reader. *sigh*
It got worse. The book fulfilled my (other) biggest pet peeve. To answer the many major mysteries of the story, the entire last quarter of the book was one long explanation…told through flashback.
Oh, and it has a “to be continued” ending.
It just makes me sad because this book had so much potential.
We decided to read a classic next. There better not be any Beautiful Pixie Dream Boys in Mark Twain or I may throw a fit.