Dreams of Gods & Monsters | Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Hardcover: 624 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
“Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.
When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. 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.
But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?“
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts, and started the apocalypse.”
Dreams of Gods & Monsters marks the third and final installment to the epic fantasy series by Laini Taylor, who proves once again that she is a remarkable author of striking prose and beautiful settings. Her characters are well-developed, especially Karou, and the relationships she builds among them are captivating and wonderfully powerful.
Mik and Zuzana prove to be one of the cutest couples in YA as their love story remains present and memorable despite being a subplot to Karou and Akiva’s torrid romance. They as individuals are also fun and spunky and easy to love. They aren’t the only characters that shined in this book. Liraz makes strides in bettering herself and Ziri matures into a strong and capable leader while maintaining his goodness. Both Liraz and Ziri share engaging narratives as they learn to love themselves and to live with their mistakes.
“Soldiers and children do as they’re told. Children grow out of it, but soldiers just die.”
As the other characters are making leaps and bounds in character development, Akiva and Karou remain fundamentally the same. The only thing that changes is their relationship, which was fractured in the previous book. I enjoyed Karou and Akiva’s narratives but their continuous pining and angst was shockingly bothersome as their reunion was prolonged for far too long, especially since distance was no longer a factor separating them. While I still enjoyed reading from their point of view, I couldn’t help but be annoyed by how much their thoughts focused on each other rather than the deadly situation at hand.
This book is not without its themes of discrimination and coexistence, and I’m very happy to see that those messages were not lost amongst the heightened angst that was rolling around in this installment. In truth, the very ending of this book was a little disappointing (and unexpected) as Karou and Akiva’s yearning for one another remains strong and frustratingly present until the very last page.
“Happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won–some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it–but something to carry doggedly with you through everything, as humble and ordinary as your gear and supplies.”
I thought this was a very strong conclusion; however, I have to admit that this was not the ending I expected or envisioned. The previous book was rife with tension stemming from conflicting world views, clashing cultures, and battling factions. Two races were at war with one another and there was a great amount of bloodshed and loss. It was a heavy book filled with death and violence, competing ideologies, and complicated relationships.
Dreams of Gods & Monsters didn’t maintain this suspense as well as its predecessor. The plot felt stagnant and less progressive. Not much occurred between its explosive beginning and anticlimactic ending. There were a few nail-biting battles, but not a war that was expected to happen among the seraphs, the chimera, as well as the humans. The seraphs posed such a terrifying threat at the end of the last book, and yet, their intimidating presence was reduced to background noise for most of this book. They became an army of immobile warriors put up in the Vatican, waiting for something to happen. In short, the foes were boring.
Also, I wasn’t much a fan of the Eliza storyline. Her chapters took me out of the experience and so, I was surprised by how important she was to the plot as a whole. I wasn’t invested in her history or her role even when her true identity was revealed.
“Once upon a time, there was only darkness. And there were monsters vast as worlds who swam in it.”
I know it sounds like I didn’t like this book, but I can assure you that I did. I think I just went in with too high expectations. Dreams of Gods & Monsters is an engaging story with fantastic characters, vivid descriptions, and impressive world-building. Some subplots and characters seemed unnecessary or were wasted, but overall, this was a good conclusion to an epic romance and adventure.