I am not sure that I can review this book. I cannot objectively review or summarize the plot. I will not be able to tell you how vivid the descriptions are, or how strongly the characters are written. I cannot convey to you how the chapters ebb and flow in such a way that lets you breathe after you've been still and quiet for so long. I do not know how to describe this book in a meaningful way, but I'll try.
Karou is the new resurrectionist and she is struggling to build a new army for Thiago, the White Wolf. She has set up chimera camp in Marrakech and has abandoned the hope of peace, with Akiva or without. Zuzana worries constantly and uses an email riddle that isn't even a riddle at all to find Karou, deep in the desert, living with monsters. Akiva must return to his Misbegotten brethren and kill the few remaining chimera, but instead he tries to free them. While Karou struggles to forget Akiva, he only tries to redeem himself and helps her in many small ways. The battles rages as the chimera and seraphim fight, but hope continues to win, even as strange plans are afoot.
How's that? Not any where close to good enough.
I spent a lot of time on the train this weekend. Four hours to Chicago on Thursday, three hours round trip from the city to Crystal Lake and four hours back yesterday. Not to mention the random reading bursts I had after sight-seeing, or while hanging out in the city. I read in the Apple store while Doug browsed (on my Droid phone because I'm a rebel). I read in the Art Institute while Doug was transfixed by the architecture exhibit. I even read at Second City, in the very first row, right before the actors took the stage.
Everyone knows that I have been looking forward to this book like none other, and I was really hoping that it wouldn't suffer from the sequel slump (it's a thing-I'll write more about that later!). And it lived up to every one of my expectations.
I will now try to break down this book that had me so thoroughly absorbed.
Zuzana and Mik were wonderfully delightful, although I'm sure that feisty Zuzana would hate me for saying that. They were the break you needed in the storm. I would find myself laughing at these two after having been nervously playing with my jewelry, or flat out crying, just minutes before. Their interaction with the chimera was priceless. My aunt can make friends with anyone, regardless of nationality or language barriers, but I doubt that even she could make friends with monsters the way these two did. Thank you, Laini Taylor, for the time to breathe.
Karou was incredible in this book. Not only is she trying to resolve very strange memories and feelings from her former life has Madrigal with her recent life, but she is also trying to keep it together now that her family has been killed. She is strong, but weak and vulnerable all at once, but she knows that she is the only hope. And she does still love Akiva, although you start to think that maybe she could love Ziri too, but after what happens at the end, poor Ziri will have to live broken hearted.
But Ziri does love Karou, too much. And his sacrifice was incredible.
Akiva, as always, is stunning in his strength and love for Karou, but also for Liraz and Hazael. He again proves to be a fierce warrior, but his plans falter and play into the enemies hand too easily. Hazael and Liraz are such a welcome team, with Hazael's wit and ease and Liraz's fierceness. They are the perfect companion to Akiva.
While reading this book, I would regularly gasp, laugh, tense up, and cover my mouth. I spent most of the train ride in nervous anticipation. I spent part of it in tears. Uncontrollable tears. But, a few pages later, I was laughing. I read this on my Kindle, but I was still so thoroughly engaged in this book that I had to come up for air. I had to put the book down and look at the flat fields passing me by and be reminded that my world is not in complete and utter turmoil. It only felt that way. Doug had to keep reminding me that everything was okay. That these were characters, that this was a book. But despite the fact that we're talking about angels and monsters (and angels that are monsters), it felt real. The easiest way that I can describe it to someone else is this: you know how in Avatar you really came to care about the blue people, even though it was all so strange and foreign? That's how you'll feel about the chimera and the seraphim. They are good and bad and human and emotional and feeling.
I'm scared for this to become a movie. The film rights have been sold to Universal, but I just worry that the filmmakers will be so consumed with the special effects that they will forget the complexity and humanity.
I finished the book yesterday with an hour and a half of train ride left, but I could not bring myself to start another book. Honestly, I had to decompress. I had to come out of Eretz. I had to leave Karou, Akiva, Ziri, Zuzana, and all the other major and minor characters behind.
And so begins another year long wait for the next book. I've also entirely decided that I need this book in a physical format. It's just that good. If I were the type to get tattoos, I'd already have my hamsas and stars in honor of Karou, I'd have wings in honor of Akiva, I'd have a wishbone for them both. But since I hate needles, and pain, I'll have to settle for some jewelry instead. I'll post pics later.
In case you haven't picked up on this yet, I loved this book. I highly, highly recommend it. It's a high school book. It's mature, it's violent, it's moving. I'm sure there is an age limit on this, but I still fit right into it so it doesn't matter. I would honestly say that if you are a fantasy reader, there is no age limit, but if you're not, you would look elsewhere. I can't imagine someone not liking this book or this series, but I suppose I would not be able to relate to them at all, and would thus, not know them.
Read the book. Today. Yesterday would have been better. Then I could have talked to you and we could have mourned the end together. But you can read it today, and call me later. We'll mourn then.