Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Have you ever read a book that's great until it abruptly ends without actually finishing the story? You wonder if some pages were torn out, so you examine the spine, but the book is intact. It occurs to you that maybe the book is part of a series, and the story will continue. But no, that isn't the case. Even though you enjoyed the book until it ended, now you're frustrated and annoyed. That's how I felt when I finished Laini Taylor's Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

For those of you just tuning in, here are my reviews of the first two books in the trilogy:

In Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Taylor introduces strong new characters, explains Akiva's lineage, and finally reveals the ancient history of Karou and Akiva's world. It was so good, I was practically pumping my fist as I read it. But, mere pages from the end, Taylor drops a bombshell that could easily take two more books to resolve. But it's okay, because a prophecy says everything will somehow be resolved. How? *shrug* 

I feel like she was essentially saying, "The story isn't over, but I signed a contract for a three book deal, so I have to stop writing now. Bye." Then Karou and Akiva finally get some alone time, and the series ends. Really? Really?! I was not amused. If you've been reading the book only for the love story, you probably won't mind the ending. But love stories written for teenagers aren't really my thing. 

Instead, I was drawn to this series because I wanted to see how the war was resolved, and how it might affect our own world. I admire the way Taylor turns religious mythology regarding angels into something new. Her "fallen angels" are not at all what we would imagine. Angels aren't entirely good, and devil-faced monsters aren't entirely bad. Sometimes I wasn't sure with whom I should sympathize, and the ethical gray areas make the story feel more real. But just as the loose ends are coming together, Taylor unravels it all. That would be fine if this was the third book in a four or five book series, but it's no way to end a trilogy!

The ending leaves me scratching my head, because Taylor is a good writer. Her characters are unique. The world she creates is vivid and compelling. And the magic system she imagines is spooky and really, really cool. I think Taylor had too many ideas for a three book series, and she needed to either edit her ideas more tightly or hold out for a book deal that gave her enough time and pages to let her story unfold. I hope Taylor will write a  companion series that continues the story from the perspective of another character (Perhaps Eliza?). If Taylor does that, all the problems I have with Dreams of Gods and Monsters will be redeemed.

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P.S. All trolls will be fed to the bookworms.