My Favorite YA Book of 2011 Hands Down!

Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a masterpiece both in the storytelling and the lovely writing. Karou, which means hope, was raised by monsters called the chimaera. They are mythical animal/human creatures made up of different parts. Karou doesn’t know where she came from, only that all her memories involve her growing up in Brimstone’s shop where he deals in wishes and teeth. Karou lives in Prague where she is an art student. She wished her hair bright blue and it grows out of her head that way. She no longer lives in the shop, but Brimstone calls for her often, sending her on errands all over the world to retrieve teeth. She travels through portals linked to Brimstone’s shop. Brimstone is a harsh character that does love Karou and raised her with care along with three other chimaera. Issa appears to be her favorite. The half woman, half snake controls the portal doors. One day burned handprints appear on the doors and an angel starts stalking her. She and the angel share a history that will keep the reader wondering until the very end. Characters in this book are not always what they seem. One of the most interesting side plots of the story is the struggle between the different types of chimaera. The ones with a more human appearance are often envied by the more animalistic of the creatures. This envy takes the story on a dramatic twist. The worlds Taylor builds are lush and descriptive. I found myself looking up pictures of Prague and the Jewish Cemetery while reading this book. Here is a link to the cemetary.  She describes the cemetery as crooked teeth.  I wish Poison Kitchen was a real restaurant.  I would love to visit it.  The ending is very satisfying as well as sets up for her next book, which I am dying to read.   The book trailer is also amazing.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss Chimaeras from folklore. Bring pictures.

Would they rather be seraphim or chimaeras?

If they could build a chimaeras what would it look like?

Talk about how there is a divide between chimaeras who look human and those who look like animals.

Talk about how Madrigal and Karou are different from each other.

How did your perception of Brimstone change throughout the book?

Talk about wishes. What kind of wishes would you make with scuppies? What kinds of wishes would be innocent and what kinds would be dangerous. What is something they would wish for that would be worth the risk?

Talk about Poison Kitchen.  Do they have a hang out that is that cool?

What does it mean to be resurrected?

Discuss this quote from Brimstone, “Hope is the real magic.”

Does this book remind you of Romeo and Juliet?

What do you think will happen next?

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