Dreams of Gods & Monsters
(Smoke & Bone, #3)
by Laini Taylor
April 8, 2014
Little, Brown & Company
Source: An ARC was provided courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.
Thank you, Little, Brown!
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 Summary.)
*This is an ARC review. *
This is a review for the third book in a series, it is spoiler free but
there will be spoilers for the previous two books in the series.
You have been warned**
My Take On It
It’s been a tumultuous year for readers of some of YA’s favorite series, hasn’t it? Readers have encountered heroes and heroines dying, favorite love interests getting the shaft over another and open endings with no real resolution, among others. I know that I am not the only one who goes into the final books of some of these series with just as much trepidation in my heart as excitement. And so it was with Laini Taylor’s Dreams of Gods & Monsters, the final chapter in her stunning Smoke & Bone trilogy.
First off I want to give a giant thanks to Little, Brown for allowing me access to this book before publication. I know there were a limited numbers of ARCS for bloggers so thank you so much for selecting me to be one of the chosen few.
So, how to write a proper review for Dreams of Gods & Monsters without spoiling? Tricky, tricky. I had a lot of feeling and emotions while reading–and let me tell you–they run the gamut. I had highs and I had lows. There are things I very much liked about this book–and there were some things that didn’t sit as well with me. But overall, if I had to describe Dreams of Gods & Monsters in two words they would be: ambitious and unexpected.
So, here is what you can expect to find in Dreams of Gods & Monsters.
- A continuation of the main story arc regarding the Chimera and the Seraphs.
- Continued use of the multiple POV narration
- Returning faces such as Akiva and Karou (OBVIOUSLY) Mik, Zuzanna, Ziri, Liraz, Isa, Jael, Razgut, and the Stelians we met in Days of Blood & Starlight
- New faces: More of the Stelians, a human named Eliza and some of the people in her world, some new seraphs including Eldyon, new Chimera, Stormhunters, and a human named Esther
- More of the Stelian storyline
- Battles and skirmishes
- Lies and betrayals
- Swoony moments
- Tearful and joyful moments
- More insight into Akiva’s “gifts”
- Angels returning to Earth
- More on the history of the Seraph race
- And for this reader at least–the question of will there be more stories written featuring this world?
Now on to the technicals: Dreams of Gods & Monsters kicks off in an interesting way. Remember the epilogue in Days of Blood and Starlight, when Akiva and Karou make eye contact across the Kirin caves where the remaining Chimera and Misbegotten have gathered? Well, Dreams of Gods & Monsters actually backtracks and begins not there but slightly before–when Akiva and Karou are forming strategy on just HOW to get the two groups of people, long enemies, to agree to come together and fight a common foe, Jael who has crossed through the portal to earth causing everyone in that world to think the apocalypse has come.
Actually, I have to backtrack even more. Dreams of Gods & Monsters actually starts with the narration of one of the new faces: Eliza, a PhD candidate living in Washington DC. Our first glimpse of Jael’s return and the reaction it causes on earth is seen through Eliza’s eyes.
Now I rather liked how the book begun–but I also listened to the audiobook of Days of Blood & Starlight immediately prior to starting Dreams for recap purposes. And if it’s been awhile since you were immersed in this world and story (like I was prior to the audiobook re-read) you might want to consider re-reading or re-acquainting yourself with that second book before you start. You don’t have to of course, but it certainly made it easier on me as I read Dreams. I’m not sure I would have remembered all the finer points and details of Days–and in a book like this ALL the details, great or small, matter.
As with Days, Dreams jumps between narratives so that the first part of the book has readers following Eliza on Earth–who is somewhat of a mystery from the start- and then jumps to Eretz and Akiva and Karou’s narrations. All in all there are at least 13 different voices that narrate in Dreams–give or take a few. Guys, that’s a lot. But I really never was confused about WHO was narrating while reading. However, with so many perspectives it did make me feel a little scattered as I read.
There are many of the same themes in Dreams as in the other books in this series with vengeance and redemption being the largest. Akiva and Liraz’s lust for vengeance against Jael and his role in the death of Hazael. Karou’s need for vengeance for the loss of Brimstone. But there is redemption too. The Serpahs and Chimeras forgiveness of each other. A smaller yet no less powerful tale of redemption between Liraz and one of the Chimera. Redemption for Ziri and all that he sacrificed when assuming the role (and body) of Thiago. So, many of the smaller stories and plot threads do indeed come full circle in Dreams of Gods and Monsters and I loved that.
But the scope of this book, as well as the pacing, is something that I have to mention too. When I said this book is ambitious, I mean it. There is SO much going on in Dreams. Karou/Madrigal’s and Akiva’s longtime hope to reunite the people of Eretz, which has always been the main focus of this series, is just one part of this book. As early as a third of the way in to Dreams–I began to understand how much broader in scope this book was turning out to be. To be honest I feel that there is really too much in this book–I’m thankful for the continuation of the main story arc but Taylor adds some additional plot threads that, while interesting, didn’t feel right for this book. Not only does it feel like some of these things would have been better explored earlier in the series, if they are to be explored at all, it also feels like they detracted from the main conflict at hand.
As far as pacing–it’s off. The first part of the book moves slowly as plans and strategies are made to bring Jael back to Eretz minus the weapons he hopes to acquire and wage war with. The second part of the book chronicles the result of these plans. But wait–there’s more. Because just when I thought that would be it–Taylor hits readers with a whole other storyline involving the Stelians and their Queen (this is no spoiler, the above summary says as much) and it’s that line that takes the book to it’s conclusion.
Remember the second word I used above to describe this book is unexpected. Here’s the thing, I’m not opposed to this Stelian storyline that Dreams devolves into during the final chapters. It’s an interesting story and I think it has serious potential to be developed into something awesome. But the fact that it was put into play so late in the game–it literally is unveiled in the last 15% of the book–is troubling to me. As I said, it’s a interesting inclusion–and something I would love to read more about–say in a companion book or series. But if that is not what Taylor has planned than I think that introducing this into the final pages of the last book of a trilogy may not have been the best move. Just my opinion, folks.
I guess you could say that after reading I still have a lot of questions. Many of my questions were answered in this final book. But there were so many more questions brought up–most brought up at the very end of the book–that leave me wondering if this is really the last book that Taylor plans to write featuring this world and these characters. Although I have seen NOTHING online to indicate that Taylor plans to write more, I just can’t help but feel as if we readers have only reached the very tip of the iceberg in this story. If there is to be more I welcome it, it will ease my mind about where things are left lying at the end of Dreams. But if there is not to be more–well–let’s just say that I hope there will be and leave it at that.
I don’t want you to think that I didn’t enjoy this book though. The amazing world and characters that Taylor has crafted in this series takes my breath away. I’m a huge fan of secondary characters and in Dreams, they rivaled the main characters in my affection. Ziri: you have my heart always. Liraz: you take the prize for best growth and development of a character I’ve read this year. Mik and Zuzanna–your ability to add humor to this brutal and emotionally draining story is to be commended. And Jael, you horrible, vile man, you take the prize as one of the most despicable villains around.
I also have to give Taylor major props for creating such an inspiring and relevant story. The parallels between our world and that of Eretz are obvious and I love that Taylor created such a gorgeous tale of two lovers fighting to change the fate of their world through love and compassion instead of war and death. That is such a simple yet striking message and one that Taylor conveys to the reader in the most beautiful, lyrical, and magical way.
It’s hard to say much more without divulging too much about this book–I had chance to discuss it in great detail with my friend Lauren,and it’s definitely a book that invites discussion–A LOT OF IT. I am so curious to see how others readers will react and I’m doubly curious to see if many of my burning, unanswered question about whether this is truly the end of the road for this world and characters (that sounds dire doesn’t it? It’s not meant to!) or if Taylor has secret plans to write more one day. One thing is for sure: I haven’t read very many books that have swept me up with their world building and blown my mind with their beautiful prose, memorable characters, and swoony romance as Taylor’s Smoke and Bone series has. So it’s a certainty that I would read more and will read more of her work in the future.