Book review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters



So I’ve finally finished reading Dreams of Gods and Monsters, dammit.



I’d been trying to stave off the ending for as long as I could, but I guess no story lasts forever.



DOGAM, of course, was amazing. It was a beautiful conclusion to an epic trilogy. I remember how the first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, got me hooked, with its gritty premise (bones! teeth! exotic places like Morocco!), vivid characters and scenes (Brimstone the ram-headed resurrectionist! Razgut the foul, bloated fallen angel! the masquerade ball where Akiva magicked a living shawl of moths for Karou! *swoon swoon dies*)


What a ride it’s been.



What I loved about DOGAM:


1. THE STELIANS. HOLY SHIT, THE STELIANS. They had me the minute the Stelian queen, Scarab, bared her teeth at the prisoners and offered them the flesh fruit grown of the prisoners’ comrades. So deliciously disturbing. (Not sure what that says about my mental state.)


2. The antagonists. Jael, Razgut, Morgan Toth, and Esther Van de Vloet. They are vile. Which makes their comeuppance that much more gratifying.


3. Zuzana and Mik. Let’s face it: who can NOT love them? Zuzana, the feisty little marionette girl from book 1, is just as adorable in book 3, but twice deadly and awesome now. And Mik, Violin Boy, is as sweet and romantic and crazy in love with Zuze. Together, they brought some semblance of normalcy and levity to all the doom and gloom and chaos of war.


4. As always, the prose. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read and re-read and re-read and taken a screenshot of a sentence or passage I loved. These are just the tip of the iceberg of gorgeous, swoon-worthy moments in the story:


When this passage made me really want to live in the Far Isles:


When I felt Liraz’s guilt gnawing at me too:


When I marvelled at the stuff Laini’s brain could come up with:


When I whooped with joy at Violin Boy’s romantic (and impossible) proposal:


When I imagined the film version of the book (all that makeup!):


When my heart almost stopped at this moment (thanks, Laini):


WHAT is in Laini Taylor’s food? No seriously, what. I need to know, so I can produce prose as insanely beautiful as hers.


And come up with plot ideas as original and daring as hers.


And be able to weave it all together as flawlessly as she does.


One thing, though.


What DOGAM could stand to lose: 

I would gush over the perfection that is DOGAM, but I couldn’t help but think that the story could be a little bit shorter. I mean, do we need so much description of Karou and Akiva’s attraction to each other? I get it, the two of you are in love and it’s earth-shattering and the cosmos align every time your eyes meet and the space between you two is electric and all that. Now get on with business already. You’ve got a world to rebuild.


So if I were being nitpicky, I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars.


But who am I kidding. This is the closest to perfection YA fantasy can get. So 5 out of 5 stars.

The 15 stages of book addiction

1. At first, you come across the book with the pretty cover and you’re like




2. First chapter in and you’re still like


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3. But halfway through you become like


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4. And then like


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5. By the final chapter you’re like


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Even though you’re like this


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6. After you close the book you’re like


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7. You rush out to buy the hard copy even though you’ve already got the e-book.




8. You look for someone to fangirl with over the book, but it’s like




9. But then you find a fellow fan at last and it’s like


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10. Later, you learn that the sequel is out and this becomes you


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11. But then the sequel won’t be out until next year and you’re like


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12. Finally, the sequel is here and you’re like


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13. You repeat stages 4 and 5, only this time you’re more like this


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14. And now that there’s a final installment, you’re like


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But since it’s the end, you’re also like


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15. So you ration your candy, so to speak


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The above chronicle is all thanks to this mindblowing, awe-inspiring, wonderfully crafted epic trilogy:


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(gif from Laini’s blog)


Thank you, Laini, for sharing your beautiful writing with the world.


Shiny New Novel, here I come!

There’s a lot of random stuff floating in my mind every morning when I swim. 50 laps, or 1 hour, is a long time to give free reign to your mind and let it wander.

Sometimes, my mind drifts to cute boys:


Sometimes, a song plays endlessly in my head:

Often, I try to steer it towards plotting my book.

And now that I’ve finally finished the first draft of 15 MINUTES (10 September, 10 pm, if you need the details), new book plotting is in order!

About 15 MINUTES: I started it at the beginning of August of 2011, when the new semester was just starting. As usual, the first half of the book was a breeze – I had fun with the characters. But as the story dragged on, it got to the point where I had no idea where it was going and was just fumbling along with no end in sight. The characters were fun to write, but the stakes weren’t high enough, the scenes didn’t have enough tension and conflict, and the story just seemed to be chasing its tail. In short: *tears at hair, cowers in despair and think, hmm, maybe I’ll come back to this later*

I eventually did, after finishing BLOOD PROMISE and UNTIL MORNING. Yes, two novels later, I was ready for the mess that was 15 MINUTES again. Procrastination becomes thy name, Joyce.

So I pushed through the slush and tried to make it work again. Hopefully, I have. But I can’t be sure, since I only just finished it two days ago and can’t be trusted to be objective about it. I can’t shake the nagging feeling that there’s still something wrong about the manuscript, though. Like the ending is too abrupt or the characters’ problems are too easily resolved, the stakes still aren’t high enough and the characters don’t have to sacrifice much to get to the denouement, the characters’ arcs aren’t fully fleshed out and they don’t have much room to grow, etc etc etc.

Why yes, writers are a neurotic, insecure bunch. How did you know?

Still, I’ve sent the manuscripts to my trusted, honest, and infinitely patient critics (you girls are absolute angels), and I don’t want to think about it for at least a week. In the meantime, SHINY NEW IDEA HERE I COME!

I’ve had this idea brewing in my head for ages, ever since I read the ever-awesome Laini Taylor’s book, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. If I haven’t made myself clear before in this post and this, that book is insanely terrific. And DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT, the sequel to DAUGHTER, did not disappoint at all. It was filled with intricate yet mind-blowing twists and turns of the plot, Laini-style prose that is pretty darn close to poetry, and so much epic-ness I had to pause sporadically to catch my breath or marvel at Laini’s genius or sigh wistfully, wishing I could write like her.

This is pretty much me as I read the book(s):

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Anyway, so my point is, after reading Laini’s story, I am so incredibly tempted to write an epic fantasy story. You know how some stories make you go, “How could I never have thought of that?” DAUGHTER is such a book. Teeth-dealer, a hole in the sky, a resurrectionist, animal hybrids, war between beasts and angels. Sure, how could I have not thought of that?

 I’ve never been too hot on angel stories, partly because of its religious undertones (I steer clear of books that talk about religion), but mostly because they’re all about forbidden love between an angel and a human. And of course the angel is inhumanly beautiful and interested in a random teenage girl.

But the romance in DAUGHTER is completely justifiable and not like other angel stories in the market. *cough* HUSH, HUSH *cough* FALLEN

 And while I’m not about to attempt writing a story with angels in it in the foreseeable future, I’m really taken with the idea of a character being raised by beasts. Beasts who are not really beasts, but who have families and homes and are just fighting back against their oppressors.

But really, it was the dream that sealed it for me. Not too long ago, I had this dream about this guy who erased a girl’s memory for her safety and was accused of treason. It might have been the result of my brain being all hyped up on DAUGHTER, but in the dream I was the girl. I was one bewildered and struggling to recall who the guy was. And a dream as surreal as this is hard to deny.

I’m dying to write this story – I’ve already decided I’ll write it in third-person POV, something I’ve never done before because I think I’m awful at it – but I’m terrified it’ll turn out like some DAUGHTER rip-off. But I’ll try to work out the kinks of the story. World-building is a daunting task, one that’s way bigger than the size of my head, so it’s like trying to hold on to a fistful of water. There is always something that leaks out, something I miss, and everything’s a shapeless mess, as evidenced by the short stories I’ve been writing lately (see them here and here). There’s a story here somewhere – if only I can string it all together into something coherent.