Monday, April 7, 2014

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and Monsters 
by Laini Taylor
Read: March 26 - 29, 2014
Published: April 8, 2014 by Little, Brown & Company
Source: NetGalley (Thank you, Little, Brown BYR!)
Category: Fantasy Angels, YA

Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

NOTE: Dreams of Gods and Monsters is the third book in a series, preceded by Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight. My review may contain spoilers for the first two installments. I'd also recommend you avoid reading this if you don't want to know anything about the finale. 

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?

I finished Dreams of Gods and Monsters with the overwhelming feeling of crushing disappointment. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I'm devastated by this book, and upset at myself for not being able to like it more. The thing is, this is not a bad story. It contains beautiful scenes, moments of greatness, and of course, beloved characters. But so much of that was overshadowed by extras. My only explanation is that the ideas of this story got to be too big for even what this one massive page count could contain. While I’ve always loved how epic (or ambitious as my friend Heather says in her review) this series has been since the beginning, that element backfired in the conclusion. 

Five ways this story faltered for me: 

1)   Dreams of Gods and Monsters has way too much story in it even for its 600 page length. There were several plot threads I wanted to take out entirely (see #3 for more on this). I just could not care about all of them. I was especially disappointed in the last 15% of the book when the new stories and characters suddenly became Very Important. I’m still confused about what happened, and frustrated about the many details left open or poorly explained.

2)   The pacing of this book is wildly off balance. The narration starts prior to the end of Days of Blood and Starlight, and it takes the first 30% to get past that point. While I’m glad to have the details of the end of book 2 explained better, I was anxious about how this could end adequately based on all the different stories going (my premonition was good). Dreams of Gods and Monsters progresses at a slow and measured pace for at least the first two thirds, continually switching between numerous voices. Then all of a sudden there is an explosion of storylines out the end. There just wasn't enough room for all of them. 

3)   I did not care about the new character Eliza, or the major role the Stelians played in this book. If they were to be as massive a part of the conclusion, I wish they had been introduced sooner in the series. I'm sad because I feel like I lost Brimstone and Karou and Akiva’s dream in the wake of all the new elements. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, just that that part of the story no longer had the same weight as before - or that I wanted it to have. In many ways, this book feels like the beginning of something new, instead of the culmination of the previous books. I don't mind spinoffs, and I like when a story doesn't wrap in a perfectly neat bow. But this was too much introduced too late and then left unexplained.

4)  The plot device of "plan thwarting" was used too frequently in the second half of the book. I don't want to go into too many details and spoil anything, but this happened over and over again to my increased anxiety. So much so that I began to worry that this plot would never move forward. I get that out maneuvering each other is the whole idea of war. But it was done in the same way every time, and got to be too repetitive. I'm still not over the last one.

5)   There are some wonderful gems in this book. As expected, the language is gorgeous, and I was excited to see many hoped for elements come to pass. But a lot of them were overshadowed by the extra plots, characters I couldn't care about, and a whole new story direction. Parts that I hoped would be HUGE, felt anticlimactic, while some other parts I didn’t care about took on a lot of weight in the story. Ziri, Liraz, Zuzana and Mik’s sections are shining moments. I still love Karou and Akiva. But their slowly reconnecting romance, which started out beautifully at the beginning of this third installment, was another element overshadowed by other things. This is one of the big reasons why I feel such disappointment.

After falling in love with the first two books in the series, I'm incredibly sad about my reaction to the third. I’ve also come to realize that my emotional response to a book can cloud out almost everything else. Emotionally I feel wounded by this story, because of how much it didn’t meet my expectations. However, I've seen reviews by other bloggers who had similar criticism, but still loved this (Paul wrote a particularly lovely review on Cuddlebuggery). It's all in your perspective, and unfortunately, I was unable make myself enjoy this more. So far, time and distance hasn't helped either. Still, I did buy a hard copy of this finale and would recommend the series as a whole. 

If you’re freaked out by my thoughts, I do think many people will love this book. There is a lot of horror and heartbreak in these pages, but there is also a lot of hope and happy. I just wish I could shift through all the clutter and see it better.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Series conclusion – but lots left open for future books. According to an  'eavesdropped' on twitter conversation: 


  1. I'm freaked out now. CRUSHING DISAPPOINTMENT? Whyyyy? I've read a lot about the unexpected emergence of new plot threads, but the fact that it takes over even the reconnecting romance - an aspect I was really looking forward to with this novel - is disappointing. I have read both Paul and Heather's reviews, so perhaps I'll enjoy this after all, but knowing my luck with series conclusions (not to mention my current reading slump), it seems more realistic that my thoughts will align with yours, Lauren. Either way, I'll be shooting you an email to discuss for sure! :)

  2. Ah, amazing review. <3 Thank you so much for sharing. I've been waiting for this third book to come out before starting this series.. but agh. Now I'm unsure. I'm unsure if I should read these books. As you were not happy with this final book. Sniffs. Hmm. I will do some peeking when my hardcover arrives. Then I will decide if I should read it :) Anyway. Thank you for sharing and being honest. <3 I'm sorry you didn't fully love this book.

  3. AW!!! This may be part of the reason I usually read the first book but not the last in trilogies. Crushing disappointment with a series I've been attached enough to to finish is NOT GOOD. I'm so sorry! I truly hate when that happens. At least there were some fabulous parts to it.

  4. This review sums up my reaction so perfectly Lauren!!!! I was actually a little nervous to read any reviews for this book, worried they would all be glowing and gushing and I'd be the odd man out that was a little disappointed by it. I did not care for Eliza either, I didn't want to spend time with her, I just wanted to get back to Karou and Akiva. And there was SO much new information introduced to an already infinitely complex world that I just got lost. I felt like I was at the beginning of something big by the time I reached the last page rather than at the end of the series. Her writing is of course beautiful though and I do so her main characters:)

    1. Oops, missed a word in that last sentence - I do so *love her main characters:)

    2. The review is EXACTLY how I feel about the book. Your review is written perfectly!!

  5. In all honesty I just skimmed this review because I was debating whether or not to binge read this series in the summer. I started the first book when it first came out but after fifty or so pages had to DNF since the character names were so weird they were getting to me and i just kept getting distracted. I was planning on giving it another try but after reading a few of your issues with the new character being sort of pointless and plot points being left open and pointless too i'm not so sure anymore, Damn
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

  6. I'm still a book behind, but I didn't think your review was too spoilery. I'm sorry that you didn't love it. (Also--hi! I've been away for a few weeks. How are you? Are you going to BEA again this year?)

  7. I'm sorry this didn't work out for you, Lauren. Having a beloved series end on a disappointing note is a crushing blow, considering the time and investment a series often takes out of readers. I can completely understand your reaction though, as I'm a very emotional reader myself and that often affects the entire reading experience for me. I'm still reading this series over the month, but I'll have a little lower expectations now.

  8. I never planned on reading this because I didn't get off to a great start with the first book. Loved the first half and the second half reveal just was lost on me. Didn't really care much for the story after that point. I do agree, her writing is beautiful but sometimes it's distracting. I can see your frustration with this conclusion and I totally agree if they are important characters and plot lines, why are they introduced in the last book? It sounds like just way too much going on. I won't be reading this. Great honest review! :)

  9. I'm sorry to hear that this was a disappointment for you, Lauren. I read the first book in the series, and while I liked it I was never full-blown in love with it as much as other readers. I think it's why I never picked up the sequel.
    This is 600 pages long? Wow! That does feel really long. It's a shame that there was too much going on in the book. I can see how that would bother me as well. A finale is supposed to wrap every unanswered question and story line, so I can see why you were frustrated.
    Hopefully, your next read is better, Lauren.
    Fabulous review!

  10. So sorry that you were disappointed. I'll be curious to see what I think. I read about Eliza and while I like the concept, I can see that adding a whole new plotline could make an already complicated story even more so.
    Since this book is so long I don't think I'll be getting to it right away, but can't wait to discuss once I do read it.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

  11. Ouch. It sounds like the last Harry Potter book: shifted from first gear to fifth in a flash, went for way too much, and felt like the beginning of a new story instead of wrapping up the existing. I just recently read Daughter of Smoke and Bone and wasn't thrilled, so I doubt I'll be reading this one, but I'm sorry to hear it disappointed and fell short of your expectations. Series much room for excitement, yet so much room for disaster. :(

  12. Another disappointing conclusion :-(

    My copy arrived yesterday but it's so big. To hear with over 600 pages it still doesn't wrap things up gives me pause. Honestly I don't expect much these days from series so I'll just go into it that way. It would be nice though - to be blown away by a series like I used to be. I'm not sure what's going on these days.

  13. I just finished this (I was waiting to finish before I read your review). I did love it, but I don't disagree with your review at all. The scope was so large, and in a way, that took away from the importance of the individual characters and their story. So I agree that what I loved was a bit overshadowed. It was always about Karou and Akiva and their dream…and then it was about so much more and that wasn't as important anymore. So that part was disappointing. And I agree with you about Eliza. Any time the chapter was from her POV, I didn't care, I just wanted to get back to Karou and Akiva, Liraz, Ziri, Zuzana, and Mik.

    And, although it felt fairly wrapped up to me, there's obviously the big thing that will happen and we don't know for sure how that will end, although there was the paragraph that talked about much being written, etc. that tells me how things end (I'm trying to be vague in case anyone reads this who hasn't read the book).

    Sorry you were so disappointed. Just focus on the shining moments! :) ~Pam

  14. Lauren, I'm sad to say that I do get where you're coming from on this one. I *liked* it (as if it's possible for me *not* to like something Taylor writes), but I didn't love it. And for precisely the reasons you mentioned: the plot isn't well constructed. I'm not convinced that Taylor had any idea where she wanted to go with this one (except, perhaps, the ending itself) and it just doesn't feel like a cohesive whole. It saddens me, too, but I try to remember the beauty of the first two. Those ones I'm sure I'll read over and over. This one, perhaps not quite as much.

  15. I was so very happy to find your review because I was so incredibly disappointed with this book. I absolutely ADORED the first two and was poised to put this series on my all-time favorites list (possibly the top five). But I was disappointed for many of the reasons you mention (and more). I agree that the pacing was totally off. I didn't like Eliza's character. And I agree 100% that too much was being crammed into one book while not giving the original conflict the resolution it deserved.

    So THANK YOU for being a like-minded soul. I was feeling like I was missing something great that other people were getting. I needed to hear that I wasn't alone in being disappointed.

    Lauren @ Wordy Hughes

  16. Thanks for this review! I'm glad I'm not the only one who was disappointed and left really frustrated by this last book. As much as I love the writing and the loved the first two books, I agree that the new characters came out of nowhere and in my opinion took the focus away from the themes built up in the first two books.

    The tension built up between Karou and Akiva that was cut off EVERY TIME was so frustrating as their whole relationship was so beautifully crafted in books one and two. In the end you're really left with an empty feeling about the two beautiful characters. I would have liked less of Eliza (or none of her) and to have had more insight into Akiva's thoughts and Ziri's.

    I'd love to see some alternate endings written... or maybe I'll re-read it and leave out the chapters about Eliza.


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