Let's talk about the second book in Laini Taylor's Smoke & Bone trilogy. Have you read it? Days of Blood & Starlight is really, really dark: The world is riven by war, the lovers are separated, the friends who delivered the first book's comedic relief are gone, and the main character is employing a very creepy magic system to bring the dead back to life. Yeah, you read that correctly.
I was simultaneously anticipating and dreading this book, because I knew it would be difficult to live up to Daughter of Smoke & Bone. And Days of Blood & Starlight is good, but it does have a bit of the second novel slump that you see in so many trilogies. That slump usually goes something like this: The first book in a good trilogy introduces you to a new world full of interesting characters, and you feel the rush of falling in love with them.
By the time the second book is released, you know the characters well. They're not shiny and new anymore, and the honeymoon is over. Except for those moments when the author does something really crazy to woo you, you feel a little bored. You love the series... You're just used to it.
Days of Blood & Starlight doesn't have that problem. No, the problem here is that the author didn't employ the brilliant technique that made the first book so enticing: She doesn't drop small mysteries like a trail of informational breadcrumbs, making the reader want to know more. In Daughter of Smoke & Bone, the discrepancy between what the reader knows and what the reader wants to know creates an irresistible tension. I tore through that book looking for answers!
Days of Blood and Starlight, in contrast, is a fairly straightforward narrative. Stuff happens, then then other things happen to new side characters, and then more stuff happens. That's not bad. But it doesn't recreate the electric tension of the first book. But wait, don't get sad!
Here's the good news: Halfway through Days of Blood and Starlight, the plot picks up considerably. Beloved characters return (No, I'm not saying who!), other characters change and grow, a wild conspiracy takes shape, and the story gets a lot more exciting. By the time I finished this book, the tension returned. I'm looking forward to the last book in the trilogy. Sadly, I'll be waiting until April 2014.
No wait, don't get sad again! Here's more different good news: For those of you who'd rather watch a movie, that's going to be an option. Joe Roth (think Alice in Wonderland) is going to produce the movie. I'm doing a gleeful happydance... My prediction that this was going to be the next Twilight/Hunger Games/insert YA title du jour is coming true!
Enough gloating. More reading!