Review: 'Dreams of Gods & Monsters' by Laini Taylor

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Laini Taylor

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?

Travel Companion:

If we traveled with the main character Karou, she would be

The Artist

She would read stunning artwork. Her art would be internationally known. She would also move and never stay in one place. Her art would represent the world and the suffering within.
We would meet her working on some street art in Prague. We would go over and talk to her. She would be evasive and would leave. We would follow her. (Like the stalkers we are.) She would go into her favorite cafe, a weird place with coffins for tables. We would pay for her meal and strike up a conversation with her about art and everything else under the sun. We would mention our travels, and she would be interested. We would invite her to join us on our adventures. She would join us because she would want to see the world with other people.

If we traveled with the main character Akiva, he would be:

The Leader

He would be the one in the front, charging towards the enemy. He would fight with everything he had. He would never resort to violence, though. He would resolve things peacefully. 
We would meet him leading a protest. He would be breaking up a fight. We would start talking about rights and dreams. We would understand his dreams and want to make his visions comes true. We would ask him to come with us to bring peace to the world. Akiva would join because he would see hope in our cause.

If we traveled with the main character Eliza, she would be:

The Secretive Friend

She would be kind and warm. She would be funny and jovial. But she would be hiding things. Certain things she said would be odd. Her actions might be different than her words. We would be able to tell that she had secrets. We would never push it, though. We would let her have her space. 
We would meet Eliza in a library, working on research. We would take her hand and toss her into an adventure. (I mean...research is boring.) She would be reluctant at first. She would finally accept the adventure when she gazes at the sunrise from the mountains because it would remind her of the fiery wings of her kin.

Karou (I keep misspelling her name, so bear with me) was pretty awesome as always. She had her magical flying powers as well as her creative thinking. Her creative thinking  helped her create some amazing battle strategies. Or…ways to escape a full-on war. She played peace maker in this book. A medium between the seraphim and the chimaera. As well as translator to Zuzana and Mik.
This book had less of her, though. I wanted to see her side of things. I didn’t mind it when Akiva took center stage in this book. Karou was mostly the lover in this book. The girl who thirsted for the boy's touch. That annoyed me. She was an awesome character. She was brave and powerful. She was her own person. She didn't have to be somebody's lover. She could be her own character. Truth be told, I wouldn't mind Karou having her own book that was entirely about her. (But the reality of the matter is that Karou is part of a package. It's either Karou and Akiva or no Karou at all.) What I’m saying is that she didn’t need to be just The Lover in this book. She could have been Just Karou, and everything would have been great.

Akiva was great. He was the main actor on the stage this time. We got to see Akiva work his magical mojo in this book. 

Akiva was a great character. He had motivations behind his actions. Sure, he did a lot for Karou, but he also did some things for himself. His decision with the Stelians? That was entirely him.  It showed that Akiva could do things without Karou. He loved being with her, but that doesn’t mean he needed Karou 24/7.  
His magic was awesome. He could disappear and summon large flocks of birds. (That's actually from Days of Blood and Starlight, but let's not dive into specifics, okay?) He used his wounds to his advantage. It gave him access to his magic. And sirithar? That was so cool. Being able to access that massive amount of power was a huge advantage for him. He could had the ability to do so much more with sirithar. And he did. Akiva was given this power, and he used it wisely.

And we were introduced to Eliza. She was this quirky character who had a burning hatred of Morgan Toth (but it was understandable.) She was a researcher who lived in America. She had a shady past.
I didn't know her purpose in the beginning when we were introduced to this girl. I was confused. Who is she? What's her importance? Gimme Akiva and Karou! I thought. She wasn't given a huge part in the majority of the book. She was the sort of character I would write off as a side character with not much of a purpose. It was only when she started spouting nonsense in Seraphic that I understood. All in all, I didn't particularly like her. The ending spotlighted her, but it didn't show her in an appealing light. 
I know Laini Taylor tried to make her seem nice by making Zuzana the People Hater enjoy being in her company, but I just couldn't like Eliza.
BUT. I understood her hatred of Morgan Toth. He was evil. I wanted to strangle him. He was a terrible person. My anger boiled underneath my skin when I read what he did.

He sent out those messages? And unveiled Eliza's secret? Excuse me? You had no right to do that. It’s her secret to tell. I condemn you! Shame on you! He was a terrible person.  

I have to praise the neek-neek Zuzana and her faithful violinist Mik here. They were pretty amazing. They were just humans, but they charmed the pants off the chimaera. They were charismatic and humorous. I loved their romance. (They were amazing together. And what great chemistry!)
Zuzana was fierce. She was a perfect example of a fierce female. She was a true neek-neek. She was witty and quick to a retort. She would snap at you. And Mik brought out the best in her. He calmed her down. He made her laugh. He was the water; she was the fire. They were great on their own, but they made a better pair when together.  

The Adventure Begins (And Ends):

I thought the plot was lacking a bit. It seemed slow and boring.
For one, there weren't any actions scenes. Well...they were there, but I didn't get to see them. All the action happened when Akiva and Karou weren't in the picture. That essentially meant we didn't get any of the action. I mean...who doesn't want to see Liraz in action? Seriously! She was one of the best fighters in the entire series. 

I hated that I couldn’t see the one battle that happened in this book. Akiva and Karou were yanked from the battle. They were nominated to be the peacemakers and shoved towards Jael. We didn't get to see the angels fall out of the sky. I wanted to see that. I wanted to see Thiago in action. I wanted to see the gore and blood. I hunger for action. But I didn’t get the action I wanted in this book.
What I got was an annoying fake grandmother and a tension-filled usurping scene. (I thought it was a great scene. Don't get me wrong or anything. It was fantastically written and all. But...Wren needs her daily dose of action.) Akiva's aptitude for magic took me by surprise. I knew he was good, but I didn't know how good Akiva was.

I'll Wait For You At the Gate:

And finally...Karou and Akiva action! Last book, we had Akiva yearning for Karou. And Karou, finally, accepted her burning love. I was (im)patiently waiting for some romance between these two. (Gah. Laini Taylor is brainwashing me into wanting romance. That’s a miracle.)
Their romance scenes were filled with electricity. Their scenes were great examples of how to write chemistry. When they touched, stars exploded. The sun shone brighter. The world stopped. Babies were born. Etc etc etc.
In the end, I shipped them. Hard. I completely accept their pairing and encourage them to make adorable Kakiva (Totally making up their ship name) babies with eyes made of fire and stunning blue hair. 

These two might have had their problems, but they were great together. I felt like they barely knew each other, though. Akiva was barely with Karou as Karou. I know her soul was the same and all...but still. You need time to adjust to this new person. They're not the same in every way. They're different now. I felt like this part was rushed. It could have been touched upon longer. Oh well…

Still looking at her with that half-hesitant intensity, Akiva reached out very slowly, and, with one fingertip light against her cheek, hooked a loose strand of her hair and pushed it behind her ear. The tiny touch sparked and blazed, but the spark and blaze were subsumed by a deeper, fuller fire when he brought the whole of his palm against her cheek. His gaze was vivid, hopeful, and searching, and the touch was whisper-light, and it was… a taste of the cake Karou couldn’t have. It was more than a taunt. It was a torment. She wanted to turn her face and press her lips to Akiva’s palm, and then his wrist, to follow the path of his pulse to its source. To his heart. His chest, his solidity. His arms around her, that’s what she wanted, and… she wanted movement that spoke to movement, skin to skin and sweat to heat to breath to gasp. Oh god. His touch made her foolish. It spliced her right out of real life with its drumbeat of armies angels portals weapons war and into that paradise they’d imagined long ago— the one that was like a jewel box waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

224-225 ‘Dreams of Gods & Monsters’

Perks and Upgrades:


You Have Arrived at Your Destination:

I spun around in my chair after I put down my phone. "I'm dead," I moaned, spinning in a circle slowly.
'Is this a book hangover?' I wondered.
The answer is YES.
The ending gave off such great vibes. It was full of karou. It was full of hope. I felt full after reading that last page.
At first, I felt like this book was going to end on a terrible note. I was nearing the last hundred pages, and I knew there were two gaping plot holes in front of me. One being the Stelians. (What’s up with them?) The other being the Cataclysm Eliza and the Stelians talked about. I was worried about this book. Was this actually the last book? Or was there another coming out? I voiced my worries to my poor aunt who had the luck to be sitting by my side the moment I hit the last hundred pages mark. (82% in, if I recall correctly.)
But. This book didn’t end like I thought it would. The plot holes were patched up. It was a smooth ride to the epilogue. I had no questions left. I could only smile when I finished the last page. 
This was a wild ride. This whole series. I was barely holding on as I was thrown about. This book was a roller coaster of emotions and twists. 
This was a great end to a great series. 

And so it was. Karou and Akiva held on to each other and didn’t let go.
612 ‘Dreams of Gods & Monsters’



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