Book Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

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Posted 04/08/2014 by alicemarvels in Fantasy
Book Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Rating

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Overview

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Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
 
Release Date: April 8, 2014
 
Page Count: 624
 

PROS:

drop dead gorgeous writing; nailbiting suspense; falling in even deeper love with Karou, Akiva, Ziri, Zuzana, Mik, Ziri and Issa; surprising plot twists; a satisfying and worthy conclusion
 

CONS:

I still want more story, particularly after the exciting final pages
 
BOTTOM LINE

A stunning, gorgeously written finale to a fearlessly original fantasy series

Reading a Laini Taylor book is always a test in self control – from the first page of Dreams of Gods & Monsters, I wanted nothing more than to race through to the end because holy hamsas! this stuff is EXCITING, and I needed to know what happens to my beloved characters asap. But inevitably, I found myself tripping over beautifully written sentences full of such artistry and raw emotion that I had to stop, circle back, and marvel at the writing over and over again. I should know by now, three books into Karou and Akiva’s story, that it is one to be savored, not rushed through, but it’s always so hard to contain the excitement of being back in this world.

I’ve long since given up trying to predict what will happen in this series. Although we encounter forbidden love, war, angels, demons, the apocalypse—all elements that have appeared on YA shelves over and over again—Taylor never writes the story you’d expect. She brings an originality and thoughtfulness to her plots that keeps you on your toes, and such imagination and beauty to her worldbuilding that you are left feeling utterly swept away.

As with the prior two books, the suspense level is high throughout Dreams of Gods and Monsters. There is not just one conflict to worry about, but multiple struggles, building and escalating in tandem, some running their course before others, but all equally arresting (and stressful!). The central driving conflict, Jael and his Dominion coming to Earth, results in an epic alliance between Misbegotten and chimaera, and the scenes that unfold in their tentative partnership are breathtakingly emotional and fraught with hope and terror.

Beyond writing stop-in-your-tracks gorgeous sentences, Taylor is a master at creating characters that have such depth and authenticity it’s hard sometimes to remember that they are fantastical beasts of legend.  Karou and Akiva continue to warm hearts with their starcrossed love, and though the obstacles that have drawn them apart remain nearly insurmountable, they are so earnest in their quest to unite their worlds that you would have to possess a heart of stone to avoid rooting for their happiness. I wouldn’t have believed my love for Mik, Zusanna and Ziri could get any more fierce but this book had me falling even harder for them all.  Liraz, a character I always admired (but from afar, like you do with a beautiful but ferocious predator), became one of my absolute favorites in this book. Even the echoes of long gone characters, whether dead or just missing, fate unknown, are so potent that I feel heartbreak all over again at their absence. I can practically hear Brimstone’s tough but protective voice urging Karou to dare to hope, and hear Hazael’s laughing taunts bringing out the best in his sister and brother.

We meet several new characters, including Eliza, a young woman troubled by dreams of gods and monsters, and we learn more about Akiva’s origins via a frightening Stelian queen, Scarab, and her fiery eyed subjects. As with prior books, there is always a villain or two to fear and detest. While the brilliant use of Karou’s powers at the end of book two may have neutralized one of the worst monsters we’ve met so far, it didn’t completely rob of us characters to curse at and funnel our frustration into. Beyond Jael there are at least two new faces who will have your fist inadvertently curling for a punch.

Taylor doesn’t skimp on the plot in the least in this finale, and in fact, there is so much going on up until the very last page, that it feels like we’ve just taken a particularly epic excerpt from an even larger saga, and I harbor a small but fierce hope that there is more story to tell down the road. There is certainly room for it, even if this particular story has a satisfying feeling of closure.

If you haven’t started the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and you’re a fan of fantasy, drop dead gorgeous writing and vivid, larger than life characters that will imprint themselves on your heart and memory, you MUST pick this series up. It is in a league of its own in YA fantasy, and it has been given a more than worthy finale in Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I must also mention the excellent audiobooks narrated by Khristine Hvam – I listened to the first two series books recently on a re-read to prepare for the last book, and her narration is outstanding. I’ll be doing my re-read of the finale on audio just as soon as it becomes available.

Read an excerpt here.
Giveaway:

Thanks to the lovely folks at Little Brown, we have one copy of Dreams of Gods and Monsters to give away.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


22 Comments


  1.  

    I’m so happy you loved this! I was majorly disappointed in this story. It was just too ambitious for its page count. And I didn’t care for Scarab or Eliza. But I agree, as a whole this is a wonderful series, and I’d definitely read more. The end seems to begin something new, and I have a lot of questions that I’d love to explore further in this world.




  2.  

    She’s certainly a master of the written word, isn’t she? I realize that many don’t consider YA to be literary but with what she does to create a world and its characters is pure magic. Sounds like this book needed a bit of an epilogue!




  3.  

    Believe it or not I haven’t tried this trilogy yet but your review has me excited to start it!




  4.  

    I am very excited to read this, though I think I might wait until summer and re-read the first two books first. Or maybe I’ll listen to the audiobooks because another blogger told me they are great. In any case, I’m really happy that you thought it was a fitting ending.

    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics




  5.  

    Glad you enjoyed this one so much! I struggled a bit because of exactly what you said – I was expecting an end but I got what felt like a sliver of something much bigger, but her characters are just amazing. I couldn’t love Ziri any more if I tried, he just about ripped my heart out in this one, and I was really surprised by how much I came to love Liraz. She was a favorite of mine as well!




  6.  

    I can NOT wait to read this one! I don’t mind the open ending as much especially if it’s an indication that there is a change at a new beginning.




  7.  

    I’m not good at savoring books like these. I must gobble them up, no matter how I try. I guess I have to re-read if I want to savor. Thanks for building my anticipation for this book!




  8.  

    I really want to read these!! That’s awesome you loved the story so much. The covers are just beautiful too.




  9.  

    I am still waiting for the library to get book 1




  10.  

    I just got my copy and I am absolutely itching to tear into this one! So glad it delivers and I so know what you mean about the gorgeous writing, I am in awe of Laini’s talent!




  11.  

    *turns green* *becomes jelly*

    Oh yea! I SO want this book bad. Loved the other two and so want this one. WANT!

    I may have to try these on audio. Hm… once I read this book, I may do the reread in audio! Thanks!

    Now gimme that book! 😉




  12.  

    I’m hoping to attend her signing next week (I think it’s next week) and will grab my copy then. I’m really happy to see you loved it though. And I say it every time, but she gets the BEST covers!




  13.  

    This is such a beautiful review and I’m so, so glad you loved this! I had the same issue, I wanted to savour this but I also wanted to read it as fast as possible! And Liraz, ugh! She broke my heart, so lovely to see her change 🙂




  14.  

    My copy arrived today and I am planning to start it tomorrow – so I only skimmed your review as I don’t want to know too much going in. But I’m really really pleased to see that it was a great conclusion for you! I adore this series and can’t wait to see how it all wraps up. 🙂




  15.  

    Whoa … it’s over 600 pages and you still want more? Man, I need to read the first book soon.




  16.  

    Phew, I’m so relieved to see you enjoyed this one as much as you did, Alice! I’ve just received my copy but I’m a little nervous, mostly because a handful of readers I know were a little puzzled by the multiple plot threads and a not a fan of a lot of the newer characters. But, I’m hoping to love this despite the flaws within it, so hopefully that’ll be the case. Fantastic review, dear – can’t wait to compare notes! 🙂




  17.  

    How to balance excitement to read this & sadness about it coming to an end?

    An Amen to her beautiful writing. It makes me weap.




  18.  

    Now that the final installment is out, I plan to tackle this series very soon. It’s always a wonderful feeling to experience when there is a satisfying and worthy conclusion, isn’t it? And thanks for mentioning how much you enjoyed listening to the audio version of the previous books – I’ll have to ask the local librarian to consider getting the audio version of the series. Thanks for sharing!




  19.  

    Oh. my. gosh. I need this in my hands right now. I was already impatient and then you just had to go and review this 😉 Usually you find the plot winding down as the series comes to a close so it’s great to hear that’s not the case at all in this one. I had no idea it was this large but it sounds like that was not a bad thing at all 😉




  20.  

    I just got my copy signed last week and I cannot WAIT to read it! Her writing is really so beautiful…..




  21.  

    This is the right blog for everyone who wants to find out
    about this topic. You understand so much its almost hard
    to argue with you (not that I really will need to…HaHa).
    You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic which has been discussed for decades.
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