Why didn't I read this book sooner? It has sat quietly on my bookshelf for four years. I have passed it multiple times a day, year in and year out, without getting any sense that the awesomeness inside was calling to me. And there is awesomeness inside. Almost as much as the giant hypemonster promised. Actually, I'm glad I didn't read it sooner. Because now the whole trilogy is finished and I have both sequels ready to read. No waiting for me!
Laini Taylor is clever beyond words. Her world building is awesome. Her dialog is snappy and believable. Her characters are likable and relatable, regardless of their humanity or lack thereof. She took a trope that was already tired back when Shakespeare immortalized it and gave it a double espresso mixed with Red Bull. I think I have a new author crush. I won't gush about the book in detail like I'm itching to do -- in part because many, many reviewers have already done so, and also because I don't think my gushing would do it justice. Taylor's writing, her world, it's something you need to experience for yourself.
I can't quite bring myself to give it five stars, but it's close. The pace grinds to a screeching halt near the end when some flashbacks are thrown in. Well, they're not thrown, per se. They're necessary and placed carefully where they'll make the most sense, but I still got the impression of my exciting tour bus stopping at a boring railroad crossing while a really long train went by. Add that to a scene that bothered me (in a "no way would that character behave like that in this situation" context), a small inconsistency regarding uncovered hamsas, and the fact that Taylor almost tricked me into not realizing that a lot of the action actually takes place offstage, and my inner pedant was annoyed enough to knock a star off the rating.
But the phrase "inessential penises" gets five stars all by itself. For the curious, it's in Chapter 3, and it's part of the best parent/child "you're grown up now" speech EVER.