Monday, May 12, 2014

Deux Lectrices Discuss: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor (Major Spoiler Warning)

We're introducing another new feature! Instead of reviewing, we'll discuss books together. Feel free to tell us your opinions and join the discussion! Needless to say, since we will be discussing the final book in the series, HERE THAR BE SPOILERS! We've come up with ten questions and answered talked about our topics, so prepare for a very long post! (Personally, Kaniesha doesn't blame you for skimming).

Title: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3
Author: Laini Taylor
Release date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Genres/Subjects: fantasy, paranormal, romance, magic, angels, demons

1. As the ending to a trilogy, how do you think it stood up? (Kaniesha's)
- Honestly, not very well.  The entire series was hinting at a war, whether it was the war between the chimaera and the seraphim, the Misbegotten-chimaeras and the Dominion, or Jael's Dominion and the Stelians, but the final book seemed to build up to it (we had Karou resurrecting chimaera almost the whole of Days of Blood & Starlight, we had the Misbegotten learning to go around the chimaera's hamsas so they would hurt the Dominion, we had a friggin' war council!) . . . and then sweep it under the rug.  The ending with Jael's army seemed too easy to me.  Likewise, the cooperation of the seraphim and chimaera came too easily as well.  Yes, they did fight a bit, but honestly it seemed as if the leaders said, "here's what we're doing," and everyone shrugged and said okay.  As Kan says below, I do feel like the book is great for a book, but as a series ending, it falls a bit flat to me.

- Heather pointed it out to me while we were discussing on twitter that she liked DoGaM as a book by itself but not as the ending to a trilogy. I feel like this finally put the puzzle pieces together for me because it is exactly how I feel about it. It's a beautiful book but very anticlimactic.

Kaniesha's reply to Heather's answer: I agree with the solution being far too easy but I think we're also being a bit spoiled. I'm glad that the main characters didn't get hurt in the end but it still leaves a lot of action to be desired.

Heather's reply to Kaniesha's reply:  I think that's one of my main problems with the series as a whole.  (I'm always super critical of everything >_<) Death feels so cheap in these books to me.  I think the only characters who stayed dead are Hazael and Brimstone.  Maybe it's just the types of books I read, but I like it when authors play for keeps because that's how the world is, and teaching readers to deal with the pain and finality of it is a really cool use of author powers.

Kaniesha's second reply: True! I never really thought about it that way. At least it's not done in a totally obvious way, I get why the chimaera would need to ~respawn~ to fight the dominion and misbegotten. (The numbers of both groups were way off. Did Laini ever give a ratio for THAT? I know it was a pretty bad ratio in the third book but by then most of the chimaera were dead).

Heather's second reply:  IDRK but I think around the beginning there were something of like 260+ Misbegotten and 80-something chimaera and those were implied to be the last chimaera.  So those 260 Misbegotten plus the 1000+ Dominion that went to Earth, I believe the chimaera were always vastly outnumbered.  Which begs the question why didn't they consider a better way of dealing with the war?

2. Do you think the book needed to be as long as it was? (Kaniesha's)
- I honestly believe it could've been shorter and not lost an important thing.  I liked a lot of it, but there were parts I found that were not essential to the wrapping up of the story and tending to repeat for the sake of repetition.  At the third book in the series, I feel like every sentence (every subplot, every thought, every action) needs to be essential to the plot.  There should be no extraneous words, everything should be tight.  While I greatly enjoy Taylor's writing, there were a lot of places I would have cut if I were an editor.  I remember a few chapters where the action would stop so we could get the moments leading up to it from the perspective of another character and I thought, "but I just want to know what happens!"

- Definitely not. I had to take several breaks while reading because I couldn't keep my mind focused  on what was going on because there wasn't anything going on. The first 15% of the book I know I was disappointed and bored but after that it really picked up for me but actually from there it starts fluctuating between really intense and again, boring. If Taylor wanted to write a love story, I don't think she should've built it up so there'd be a ton of action and then not deliver and only give us fiery gazes and chills running up spines.

The whole magic issue with Akiva seemed rushed, sudden and unnecessary. I don't think it should've been involved but I do recognize how clever it was in getting Jael back into Eretz.

3. Which scenes did you like? (Heather's)
- Any scenes involving Zuzana and Mikolas immediately got my vote.  I felt that the inclusion of those two as both outsiders to the war efforts and completely human characters, well, humanized the series as a whole.  The fact that they integrated and survived in a place where they knew one person and began to learn the language always spoke volumes to me about them.  Plus, they began earning the friendship of the other chimaera, which was nice to see; they didn't just come in and be completely accepted by this new society.  I also really began liking Eliza, although I wished she was incorporated into Karou's gang a little differently.

- Zuzana and Mik are genuinely the highlight of the book. Karou is an amazing main character and Akiva is a pretty lovely side character/love interest but they're not very interesting. Their thoughts and actions rarely ever stray from each other or following their duty. Which is COOL and I respect them a lot, but boring.

I know I just went off topic but basically I'm agreeing with Heather, anything where Zuzana gets dialogue is the best. I ALSO REALLY LOVE ZIRI. Poor baby. I love him and Liraz together. The scene where they fly together and find Zuzana, Mik and Eliza is my favorite scene/chapter in the whole book.

4. How did you feel about the romance? (Heather's)
- Eh.  I'm always heavily critical of romance because if you write it too fast, you risk making it insta-love, whereas if you write it too slow, you make it look like the characters are barely interacting enough to fall in love.  From the flashback in the first book, I felt that Madrigal and Akiva's romance moved too fast.  Then in book two, it was frustrating to me watching Karou alternately hate and love Akiva (though, I mean, he did kill her family and that should make anyone stop and think) and then attempt to shun him when she finally sees him again.  In this last book, it was odd waiting for them to finally get together, like everything was in place for them to be happy, but they just couldn't be yet.  I understood that they had to keep away from each other in front of the armies (but specifically the chimaera) since they had that deception going on, but once they were back in Eretz after everything, it felt a bit much to have them be completely separate until the Epilogue.

I'm 50/50 with the romance as well, well when you call it romance. There was a lot of love and like, not romance. This story doesn't really have time for romance.

I don't remember the first two books as well as I should but I remember really liking Karou and Akiva's connection in the first book because it was cute before everything fall apart. The second book was good, I really felt Karou's pain and confusion. I had a lot of respect watching her try to put her people in front of her own desires and feelings.

In DoGaM I felt everything they did even if it was pretty dragged out. But a little as Heather mentions, I think the ending could've been different and maybe better. It seemed like a people-pleasing move to separate Karou and Akiva until the epilogue. It's like Laini was thinking "Don't want fans to think I made it too easy for them... Or for them to call Akiva a Gary Stu.."

Heather's reply to Kaniesha:  I totally don't view him as a Gary Stu, but I can see why others would think so, especially in that scene when Razgut throws the knife and it goes through him and Jael murmurs "invisible to death."

5. What would you have liked to see more of in the book? (Heather's)
- More scenes from Jael's perspective after he came to Earth.  We got a very small handful of scenes from his stay in Rome and I honestly felt like he was way more important than that.  This was the enemy both armies were joining forces to fight!  This was the man who would've wrecked havoc if he had gotten his hands on weapons of mass destruction.  I also wished there were more scenes from Razgut.  I know who he is now, but I still don't understand why he said that he couldn't die when the three other Faerers he was banished with did (since Eliza is the reincarnation of Elazael, it stands to reason she died).

RAZGUT! I was so mad when Laini just explains his/their whole story out of his POV. I was dying for him to tell Akiva or Karou and what would happen to lead for him to do that. It was his POV chapter when I was finally hit with how much I loved her writing style. His thoughts and mannerisms were so creepy and real. It's truly a contrast to the rest of the book.

More action. I think the only scene where we get just a glimpse into an actual fight is right when Ziri dies. I was figuratively at the edge of my seat reading that chapter and I couldn't not cry when I got to the end of the scene.

Also was that really Scarab and Eliza together in the end? What I would do for more of the two of them!

Kaniesha's reply to Heather: More of Jael was definitely necessary. He was pushed into a subplot and literally what is more important than angels showing themselves to humans and asking for weapons?

Heather's reply to Kaniesha's reply:  RIGHT?!  We got maybe two chapters with them before Akiva and co. confronted them and I kept thinking that there had to be more because THE END OF THE SECOND BOOK WAS JAEL AND THE DOMINION LEAVING ERATZ TO GO TO EARTH.  That was set up to be a huge plot point!

6. Have a favorite quote from the book? (Kaniesha's)
- To be honest, any of Zuze and Mik's personals.  XD  They had me cracking up.  But I also loved:
“I’m starting to question our choice of life skills,” she whispered to him.
“I know. Why aren’t we samurai?”
“Let’s be samurai,” she said.

Fate took a bow, so neat it all was, but still it stole their breath away to hear Scarab, queen of the Stelians and keeper of the Cataclysm, say, with a fervor that sent tremors up every last spine, including her own: "There will be godstars. And they will be us."
I'm fairly certain I got chills from this line and probably cried.

7. Who's your favorite character besides Zuzana or Mik? And the inevitable question: Why? (Kaniesha's)
- I quite liked Eliza.  She was strong before she got her memories back and when she got them back she was incredible.  I like the fact that she got away from the cult all by herself and made a life for herself.  Also, weirdly enough, Razgut became one once we found out what he was.  All his past actions made sense to me and I totally understood why he was so bitter.  Someone should've just spoken to him at any point, asked him questions about where he was from.  He might've been a butt about it, but I bet he would've enjoyed answering the questions.

I want to say Karou because we rarely get to see female main characters like her. She takes control of her fate/destiny/plans with minor violence and without being a "leader". I think she's cool as hell. BUT! Ziri. Ziri is too sweet for me to ignore. It's brought up several times by Karou - and maybe Liraz, I can't remember - but he is hope. Hope's the only reason I'm alive today and he's practically it personified and I really love him for that.

8. How well did you think the title of the book fit? (Heather's)
- Not as well as the other two.  When we find out what the "dreams" of the "gods and monsters" pertain to, we also find out that it doesn't really apply to any of the characters in this particular story -- yet.  I love the title though, but I felt like this should've been saved for the title of the first book of a spin off series.  The gods finally come in at the very end, whilst the monsters are there from Eliza's first chapter, however we don't actually find out they aren't chimaera-monsters until Eliza heads to the desert and declares that they aren't.

- I've never actually given any thought to the book titles whatsoever. I just understood who the Gods are but who are the Monsters? I can't remember anything pertaining to starlight in the second book either. Now I know I have to re-read all three of these books eventually. OHHHH, I just read Heather's answer and I still don't understand how those monsters have dreams. It's a weird title but I dig it. Laini has cool titles. Unfortunately she's started a book title trend.. but that's another topic entirely.

Heather's reply to Kaniesha:  I don't think the monsters have dreams, I think it was just Eliza's dreams OF the gods and monsters, if that makes sense.  Like we also know that while the "gods" of this story dream of peace, I really think the title only came into play with Eliza's dreams of her past life.

9. Did you feel the theme of the series was executed well? (Heather's)
- I believe the theme was working together and learning to love others no matter their looks.  I did like this with Liraz and Ziri, even if I felt like one small conversation between them wasn't much of a catalyst to love.  But they have all the post-book time to be more in love, so I'm not that iffy about it.  I do get it though; war is something brutal and, if you wind up liking someone during it, you've gotta move fast and also believe that you might not survive this war, so love that person with all your heart.  Which is why, while I'm eh on Akiva and Karou, I do get it.

The theme in my opinion was something to do with hard work, love and hope. I haven't gathered all of this into one coherent thought but everything about this trilogy is LOVE! What are these characters going to do for love and who they love? Are they going to ignore their love? Ignoring your love is bad. Follow your heart. There is also a lot to do with pain, suffering and war as Heather said. Laini tells us straight up that it's a part of life and we have to deal with it and to hold on to any bit of happiness we get. Not to take it or love for granted. Theme: We all deserve love and happiness and we shouldn't hurt other people to get it. But if you have to, you need to fight for it. Don't let it be taken.
So yes, I think she executed it pretty flawlessly.

10. Will you read other books by Taylor? (Heather's)
- I've read everything else by her except her Dreamdark series (but I'm having trouble finding the second book in that series!).  I genuinely hope she writes a spin-off for the Godstars and the ~monsters~ they are supposed to battle, but either way, I'm looking forward to anything new.

I certainly want to but I'm not sure how soon I will. If she does a spin-off to this trilogy I'll definitely jump on that bandwagon asap.

General Thoughts / Things Not Discussed Above (Kaniesha's)
- I'm not entirely sure if there's anything else to say.  I know I sound like I complain a lot about the book, but I did honestly enjoy it.  I wouldn't have continued the series if I hadn't liked it.  I would also like to beg Taylor for a small series of novellas set around Zuzanna and Mik.  I know we have Night of Cake & Puppets, but PLZ PLZ PLZ Taylor.  I love them.  The series did everything it was supposed to do and fit pretty much all of my "good series" guidelines, plus it also makes me wonder what they characters are up to post-series, while also making me feel like they are all okay, which is always good in my book.

Despite being disappointed with the lack of action I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. It's enchanting, beautiful, magical. The sadness, the happiness, the darkness, the light are all capable of taking my breath away and that's all I ask for in a book.

But can we talk about how Akiva is probably the most uninteresting main love interest ever? I have no interest in him whatsoever. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm Team Ziri. Not that I really see him romantically either. No book boyfriends here :'(

Final thought: This is the longest post ever.


  1. So agree that the book was a bit longer than it should be and that the romance was eh for me too - but it wasn't a horrible book, I just loved the first book so much!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    1. Same! I totally recommended the first book to Kan because I was just SO enamored of it. But I think Taylor did a wonderful job with this book and series and I can't wait to see where she goes from here.

      Thank you for checking us out!

  2. I have to admit i mostly skimmed your review since i have yet to still read this series but i'm glad that overall this conclusion was a good resultion for the series (even if you did have a few issues with it)
    Lily @Lilysbookblog