This book has divided me and I’m not sure what to make of it. It has all the makings of a typical YA fantasy: female protagonist, magic and the all-important soul mate in the form of a devastatingly handsome boy. What sets it apart from the others? The writing style. Laini has a wonderful talent for words. She manages to infuse the perfect amount of both snappy, modern language and mixes it with a welcome amount of poetic romance. On top of that, the story itself eventually (after many many chapters of complete nonsense) becomes a good one, filled with twists that kept me reading until the end.
However, the main character lets the book down. The first thing that we learn about Karou is that she’s a really cool 17-year-old who lives in Prague and attends an art school with a bunch of other equally cool, bohemian-type kids. Then, we find out that she’s the unrequited love interest of an older street performer who’s like, so totally gorgeous. Oh yeah, did I mention that she’s so totally gorgeous too? On top of all that, she’s an amazing artist who draws everything she sees to perfection and speaks over 20 languages. No wait, there’s more. She has a black belt and never worries about money (i.e. She’s rich). And then there’s her hair, which is mentioned and described in detail so often, I’m wondering if it’s going to have its own spin-off series. Good god, I’m struggling to find any aspect of this character that I or any other reader can relate to.
At one point in the storey, I found myself warming up to her, especially when she meets her love interest for the first time. But that good work was undone with the excruciating chapter 21 (it really was a big pile of BS). After that, I became angry that I had wasted my money with this story. The last quarter of the book improved as this was the section that contained aforementioned ‘twists’. But, will I be purchasing the sequel? Will I endure another 300 pages of Karou and her hair? Categorically, no. However, Laini’s skills and style has made me sit up and take notice of her. I will not object to reading some of her other stories, that is if she is able to create a main character whose personality is not so overshadowed by her infallible perfectness.