Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #68: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #68: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini TaylorDreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3
on April 8, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 613
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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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?

Recommended by: Ellis (The Random Transliterator/Finding Bliss in Books)

It doesn’t happen often, but I find myself at a loss for words here. I’m not really sure what to say to do justice to the full gamut of feelings and thoughts I have about Dreams of Gods & Monsters. Epic series is epic, and it’s really hard to encapsulate it into just a few things, and I’m not enough of a wordsmith to manage everything that needs to be said. Suffice it to say that I am immensely impressed with Laini Taylor’s talent and have a vast need to read anything she ever writes and to somehow find her elusive backlist books. Though Dreams of Gods & Monsters didn’t end up being my favorite in the series, plot-wise it lives up full to the intensity and beauty of the rest of the series.

I already fangirled over Taylor’s writing endlessly in my review of Days of Blood & Starlight, so I won’t repeat that. She’s a wizard, basically, and I’ll probably be forcing this series on people who will probably initially give me the side-eye of judgment about an angel book. This is so much more than that, and I’m quite stubborn. Taylor’s writing will win over those of good taste, I have little doubt. Dreams of Gods & Monsters retains the humor in the face of danger that I love so much about this series. Her writing is lyrical and literary while also being modern, full of pop culture references, and utterly silly at times. It’s a mix she manages perfectly.

As with Days of Blood & Starlight, the plotting contains myriad twists I in no way saw coming, along with some that I did. The plot is intricately-weaved and so impressive. I already feel a slight compulsion to reread, so that I can look at how Taylor’s been setting that ending up throughout the series. A lot of fiction feels unplanned and spur-of-the-moment; Taylor’s does not feel like that in the slightest. I trust that she had a plan, and built the underpinnings in from the outset.

That said, Taylor Dreams of Gods & Monsters was a struggle at times. Partly, I think, it’s because this is the sort of book I don’t want to binge read, but slowly savor over a couple of weeks. Taylor’s writing takes time to process and that slow unspooling actually helps me not miss things and to fully appreciate everything, whereas when I’m binge-reading at full speed, I have a tendency to get caught up and read too fast. While that’s not an issue with simpler books, it is with fiction this elaborate and epic.

However, the other part of my struggle was the addition of a new central cast member, Eliza. Her plot line, while ultimately important as I assumed it would be, was really boring to me. Every time the perspective changed to her, I groaned. Though I see why she had to be included, I do think her sections could have been edited down a bit, as a couple of them were a bit repetitive. They’re very heavy on foreshadowing, but pretty light on plot and characterization.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters focuses primarily on Eliza and Karou/Akiva. There’s not as much shifting of perspective to the rest of the important supporting characters. While I do actually like Kaoru and Akiva, they’re not the characters that I’m really emotionally tied to and that backed my emotions off a lot from DOBAS. All of this was done for important plot reasons, but I am who I am, and I wanted more of Ziri, Liraz, and assorted others. The thing is that Eliza, Karou and Akiva are none of them particularly prone to humor; they’re so dour about everything. Yes, they’re dealing with serious shit, but they’re so sincere and earnest all the time, and I am not good at handling that. I’m like Chandler and such honest emotion makes me uncomfortable.

At over 600 pages, Dreams of Gods & Monsters is already damn long for young adult fiction. Or, really, adult fiction. Still, I find myself putting it down and wishing for the rest. As expected, Dreams of Gods & Monsters is beautiful and heart-wrenching, but it definitely doesn’t feel like a complete ending. It does conclude a thought, but it’s more a semi-colon than a period, for the grammar nerds out there who get my meaning. For all that I am invested in the series and for as good as Dreams of Gods & Monsters is, I can’t help feeling a bit disappointed at the things I was expecting to come to pass that didn’t. Two of my ships are unresolved, with no adorable shippy moments on screen, which is a shame because Taylor does those so well. The plot’s got plenty of room to go and play yet, and I suppose I have to join the clamor for more books set in this world.

While I’m sad to not have put this down with flails, I do think this, as with DOSAB is probably a book that I’ll love so much more on a reread. In both cases, I think my disconnect is a matter of expectation. Of course, news that there will be in fact more books in this world wouldn’t hurt either. This review came out a bit rantier than I wanted it to, but know that I DID really like this book, for reasons detailed in the prior reviews of the series.

Favorite Quote:

“What exactly is a samurai, really? Do you think that’s something we should know before we wish it?”

“Good point.” Zuzana held a matching wish on her own palm. It dwarfed it, and weighed even more than it looked like it should. “It might turn us both into Japanese men.” She squinted at him. “Would you still love me if I were a Japanese man?”

“Of course,” said Mik, without missing a beat. “However, as cool a word as samurai is, I don’t think it’s what we really mean. We just want to be able to kick ass, right?”

“Well, definitely don’t phrase it that way. We’d probably just become highly skilled at kicking people in the ass. Don’t turn your back on them,” she intoned. “They never miss.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif i want more little mermaid

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8 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #68: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor”

  1. Anya says:

    I definitely agree about the full range of feelings, though I actually really liked Eliza since her grad student details were spot on and I was all “omg grad student yey” 😉
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    • Christina Franke says:

      The thing is that Eliza doesn’t really DO anything until the very end, but there’s a lot of time detailing her (minimal) activities. I can see it being awesome if you’re studying similar things, but it was rough for me.

  2. Giselle says:

    I’m excited to get to this one but the number of pages intimidate me. It sounds like maybe she left it open to continue with the series seeing as how popular it is. I also agree about the non-binge-read quality of these books. I also find I need to read this as a second book to slowly savor instead of reading it non stop – mostly bc of the writing, but also the sheer length. Bigger books can sometimes make me feel like I’m not getting anywhere even if the book itself is amazing. Is that weird? >.<
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    • Christina Franke says:

      That’s what everyone seems to be speculating. There’s room for a whole other series story arc, and it’s so brilliant it would be a shame to not keep it going. I think it would change main characters maybe, and I know who I want to be at the lead. Yeah, I ended up having to put book two down a lot for other things in my schedule and I think it upped my enjoyment.

      You’re not weird about big books. Like, I read Words of Radiance, and a hundred pages wasn’t even 10% of the book complete. O_O It feels like you’ll never finish, even if the book is good.

  3. Katie says:

    You said everything I felt about this book. It was good, and the story was still epic like the others, but it wasn’t quite was I was hoping for. I wanted more closure, and I wanted more Ziri dangit. Also, I agree that Eliza was boring. I’m guessing she’ll be a bigger player in a potential spinoff (if that happens – PLEASE LET IT HAPPEN!), but I don’t really like that prospect. She was just meh for me. I’m still hoping and praying for a spinoff focusing on Ziri and Liraz. o_0 OMG HOW AMAZING WOULD THAT BE?!
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  4. Elizabeth says:

    I could not agree more with this review (and actually all of the reviews you’ve done on the series, I’ve just been a lazy pants and haven’t commented). Particularly the expectations – I was expecting the story line to go in a waaaaay different place, and part of me still wants that exploration of the….island people thingies I can’t remember the name of.

    I also had a hard time reading this book in one sitting, which isn’t usually an issue, and Laini’s writing is SO BEAUTERRIFIC that I was surprised. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was – but I think I’m like you with the Chandler reference haha. And I love, love, love the side characters – they’re definitely the ones I was invested with emotionally, so that was a backwards step for me. (Who were your other ships?) I was still super involved with the book as a whole, but I need more books set in this world to satisfy my craving!
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  5. AnimeJune says:

    I felt the same way you did about the ending – it felt unfinished, and a bit sequel-baity. It felt like a cheat, to me, because I didn’t need a commercial for the next series, I wanted a conclusion to this one.

    But I think I disliked this book more as well. It had a beautiful story but way, WAY too slow of a pace. Taylor doesn’t need five pages to describe one act of magic.
    AnimeJune recently posted…“Dreams of Gods and Monsters,” by Laini TaylorMy Profile

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