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Kate Bond

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Days of Blood & Starlight - Laini Taylor Hmm. I'm withholding judgment until I've read the final novel in the trilogy. This is certainly better than the last half of [b:Daughter of Smoke & Bone|8490112|Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)|Laini Taylor|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1338613368s/8490112.jpg|13355552], which I really, really hated, but I don't know that that's really saying much, considering how much I hated it. I'm going to talk about things that happened in the first book, so don't read this if you haven't read that. There are also some slight spoilers, I guess, about this book. Those have not been hidden individually.Back when I read Smoke and Bone, I thought one of the primary things that really didn't work was the transition from UF to straight Fantasy, but I'm beginning to see that I was completely wrong--what didn't work was everything without Karou. In Blood & Starlight, the UF elements with Zuzana are downright grating, and Z is over-the-top irritating until she and Karou are reunited, at which point the annoyance dissipates somewhat (That said, telling me Z is an adorable, lovable character doesn't work when everything she says makes me want her to die).Along the same lines, the capital-F Fantasy elements were significantly better for their lack of Madrigal. Her characterization and the story of her Instant Perfect Love with Akiva made me grind my teeth, but she and Karou have merged, making the parts of Madrigal's story that carry over from Smoke & Bone, such as the White Wolf, again, not as bad because they are being paired with Karou. And I really love Karou--maybe because she is the kind of protagonist who takes action and makes things happen, while Madrigal kind of just has things done to her (a theme that carries through everything in Eretz, where apparently every single societal group is disgustingly patriarchal).The parallels between what Akiva and Karou are going through were nice, and I enjoyed everything going on with Akiva's mother's people, the rogue angels who live on some island or something (I don't know, they have strange fruit there, and there are some hit-you-over-the-head obvious differences re: the treatment of women). It all gets to be a little on the nose by the end, but I appreciated what Taylor was going for, and I think it mostly worked, as keeping the two separate for such a large portion of the book went a long way to keep me from being bothered by their love story, which I didn't really buy in Smoke & Bone. The end builds nicely, and while little of what happened came as a surprise (Taylor has a deft hand for laying clues, but could stand to foreshadow what is to come a but less heavily--at least for this particular reader), it fell into place in a way that felt right. I think your enjoyment at the end of this book will come from your feelings about the love story laid out in Smoke & Bone. If you bought into it there, you'll love the ending here (and you may be frustrated for most of the novel, as our lovers are kept apart until the end). If you thought that particular aspect of the narrative was weak, then the ending of Blood & Starlight will leave you feeling pretty ambivalent.All in all, I liked this book okay as long as Akiva and Karou were kept apart, and I am really rooting for the love triangle to break the two of them up in book 3. It'll never happen, but you can't blame a girl for dreaming.