Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dreams of Gods & Monsters Review: Karou

I took control of the chimaera rebellion.
But only through a deception.
And if anyone finds out, I'm dead.

The rebellion wants revenge.
A bloodbath for those who destroyed their homes.
The angels.

The Misbegotten are the angels that destroyed them.
But they are not to blame.
They were only following orders.

The real enemy are the angels who gave those orders.
The ones that have entered the human world.
The ones that are trying to gain human weapons of mass destruction.

If these angels get those weapons, no where will be safe.
The Misbegotten and chimaera must band together.
Mortal enemies, but fight for the same cause.

The leader of the Misbegotten, Akiva.
The leader of the chimaera, me.
The ones who fell in love a lifetime ago.

An alliance must be formed.
My name is Karou.
Hi guys! I admit, it's been a while since I reviewed a book, but here today, I am Karou!

Book: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Book Standing: Book 3 (final book)
Setting: Eretz (fictional world) and human world (present)
POV: multiple views, all in third person, mainly by Karou and Akiva
Genre: YA fantasy

Reading: first time
Favorite part: the horror of Jael realizing that it was Liraz waiting for him in his tent. Official moment of doom. 
Rating: 4 stars

WARNING: I make no guarantees that it will be spoiler-free. I have a tendency to get carried away when there's a lot I want to talk about.

Oh, this series. It is unique in so many aspects, and I'm really glad I read it. As I've mentioned, it deals with angels and chimaeras. Mortal enemies, but yet even within the groups of angels and chimaeras, you have the good ones and the bad ones. So, naturally, you'd think that it would be sort all right to form an alliance with the good ones of both the chimaera and and the angels, right? Not exactly. More like an uneasy alliance, where everyone's trying very very hard not to kill anyone or make a pact with others to double-cross them.

Of course, it does help that the leaders, Akiva and Karou, are not in an uneasy agreement. Far from it. They couldn't agree more with each other. Heck, they're the love interests for each other, torn apart by fate, misery, and species. But they make it work, somehow, and yes, it comes with a great cost.

I want to talk a bit about Jael. He's the main antagonist in this book, and boy, may I be the first to say that he seriously doesn't deserve the title as an angel. Actually, his impure motives are probably the means of taking a look and determining who the real monsters here are: the chimaera, with their hybrid forms, or the angels who rule? Everyone's raised to know that angels are messengers of god and whatnot, but in this case, there is an entire race of angels. And, well, there's an emperor, who's corrupted. You'd think that the leader of all angels would have to be some holy and heavenly figure, closest to god, right? Nope. This guy, Jael, murdered his brother and nephew to take the throne, them tried framing it on Akiva. And if that wasn't bad enough, he then learns of human weapons of mass destruction, and immediately decides that he wants to get his hands on them. And so, he plays on the whole human belief that angels are messengers of god, ultimately trying to trick humans into worshipping him and giving him what he wants.

How's that for evil? Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the evilest of all angels, using his title as angel as a means to kill everyone. Meaning: if angels seem to descend onto Earth, demanding worship, we all must ask ourselves exactly what they're here for, before submitting our wills to them.

Wow, and that now makes me seem like a total non-angel believer. "If angels do descend, and they're here for good reasons, you're going to be smitten because you doubt them!" yells someone in the back.

Good point. But this is exactly why I love YA books: it deals with complex issues by breaking them down into relatable and easy-to-understand terms. In this case, you have to be careful with who you put your trust in. Society has preached angels as the good guys, but only as mythical figures. If they do come down, do we trust them? Is society right, or should you question everything? The answers to these questions all boil down to your gut instincts. I would proceed with caution in cases like these.

Okay, enough about all this philosophical stuff. I'm driving you all crazy, aren't I? My bad.

Let's talk about Liraz. Is she kick-butt or what? Because she is freaking awesome. Angel, yes. Misbegotten, yes. Trained solider, and probably the best of the best. I do love myself a strong female character, especially since we get to see so much more of her in this book. After a certain death of someone dear to her, well, she's hell-bent on taking Jael down. But she's also mourning, and we get to see a more vulnerable side to her. What I love is that it shows that women can still be awesome while being emotionally vulnerable at times. Liraz isn't someone who normally cares a lot about anything beyond her two brothers. She's described as being a cold and unfeeling solider. Yet here we suddenly have Liraz struggling with her feelings internally. Yes, she channels it all into her quest for vengeance which makes her even more badass, but it also clears her head and really makes her take a step back to look at everything. She's no less awesome (she wanted to be the one to punish Jael, and punish him she did...through humiliation and a lot of pain), and the way she gets Jael is beautiful.

Jael's downfall: his overconfidence and the fact that he's put himself up on such a high pedestal. That fool. He returns to his camp, believes that his army won, demands he "needs a women" to help him unstress (this guy isn't hard to hate), and lo and behold, finds himself stuck in a tent with none other than Liraz waiting for him. And I use the word "stuck" lightly; what I mean is that he's completely trapped. So what exactly happened? He was way in over his head. He returned to his camp, fully believing that the angels patrolling around it were of his own army. Wrong! Misbegotten took the camp, and disguised themselves! And, knowing Jael, they knew he would want a woman to "help him unstress", and planted Liraz in his tent. Liraz, who has been waiting patiently to get to Jael. And get him she do. May I please have an applause? Because I would kill to have gotten a look at his expression when he realized that he was screwed.

The way Karou and Akiva overthrow Jael is so simple, yet effective. You don't need big complicated scheme! Blackmail and deception always works perfectly fine in wars!

Ziri and Liraz were also adorable. Just...I can't. Liraz, who's so used to being cold and emotionless, is contrasted to Ziri, who forced to be cold when he's not. Both are in the opposite mind sets that they're use to, and it's all brilliantly executed. 

Zuzana and Mik, the humans. Karou's friends. The ones I would be, as I am a human. See? I'd fit in right with them. Okay, no. But as a human, I'd get to play the same roles as those two. I love them, because they bring into perspective the fact that though the main battle is between two non-human species, humans still exist. They also bring the humanity of everyone out, with their light humor and sarcasm. Also, because they are brave and funny together. Everyone, both chimaera and Misbegotten, love them. I'd love to have them as friends.

The ending. It wasn't gut-wrenching (thankfully), but it wasn't all completely happily ever after. There's a quote in the book that says it wasn't a happy ending, but a happy middle. As in they're not done yet, but they're working their way towards the ending. There will doubtlessly be some rough spots to get to the ending, but as of the ending of the book, they're in a happy place. And in a way, I feel like that's only right. Both Karou and Akiva have responsibilities to uphold, ones that future depends on. But they deserve some happiness at the very least.

But are there loose ends? Yes. A few. They're not as obvious nor as important, but they're still there. It's enough that it leaves you wondering, but not too significant to the characters that it's a pressing unanswered issue (cough, looking at The Queen of Zombie Hearts here). First, we have Razgut, who's made Esther his new...transportation. I guess Razgut is sort of back to square one, being stuck on the back of some human, with no way to return to Eretz, turning his host, Esther, mad. Though truth be told, Esther kind of deserves it. She double-crossed Karou, after all. Let her succumb to madness, for all I care. But as for Razgut...what becomes of him? He's technically not a threat, key word being technically, but who knows...

Other loose end is the fact that everyone has become a godstar (the people we care about, anyways), and they're all to one day battle the Cataclysm. But through Eliza, we all sort of know that they're going to win, one way or another. How they win, well, that's let up to the reader as it hasn't happened yet. So I guess that's not quite a loose end, but still...

Well, I've blabbered on for a while now, haven't I? And I haven't even gotten started... Alas, I shall spare you the rest!

Bottom line: pick your battles carefully. Not everyone is a good guy, no matter what society tells you...after all, the good guys turned out to be the monsters here, not the gods! 

PS. Did I ever mention the brilliance of the title? Dreams of Gods & Monsters. Throughout the book, the real question is: who are the real gods, and who are the real monsters? *taps temple with a wicked smile*

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