Wow and double wow... If I could, I'd give this book six stars and still feel like I was under-rating it.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a complex novel, the first in a series, about a strange, young woman named Karou whose hair grows out blue, has twin tattoos in the center of her palms, and can speak a dozen languages. Karou is a mystery to everyone, including herself. Living a double life among humans and demons, Karou longs to know what she is and where she came from. Unfortunately, the answers she seeks come at the price of great pain.
Karou is a wonderful character. She's kindhearted and sweet, but she is tough when she needs to be. Her story is fascinating, and she is surrounded by other fascinating characters. The book is haunting and beautiful, yet at the same time, it is full of pain and longing. Although the tragedies in this book pull on the readers' heartstrings, the story doesn't wallow in sadness.
I loved the language. The author's descriptions are wonderfully rendered, and the words she makes up (such as 'scuppies' which means small wishes) are as playful and novel as the ones used in the Harry Potter series.
But reader beware...even though this book is labeled as YA, it's no Harry Potter. This is a book meant for much older YA audiences. The violence, sexual situations, and language (and here I mean 'big words' more than 'bad words') mark it for a high school and older readership (in my mind anyway.)
Really, this is one of my favorite UF/fantasy books of all times, and I cannot wait to read the next one.