Okay, so I'm really late about this, considering how many reviews have been posted on these books, but if you haven't already bought them, um, what are you waiting for?!!
1. In one of her posts with writing advice, Maggie Stiefvater said to use one of your favorite books as a textbook of sorts. I'd choose Daughter of Smoke and Bone because the writing is so.... indescribably beautiful. (And though I'd study DSB, I don't think I could ever attain the level of awesomeness that is Laini Taylor's writing).
2. HOLY SHIT Laini Taylor! What is going on in your brain? (And I mean that in the nicest way possible). This book has one of the most imaginative worlds I've read in years... and one of the most well-established ones too. Mad props, Ms. Taylor.
3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone also has a very intense romance, one which actually reminds me of paranormal romances...but one which is 1,000 times better than those. Karou/Akiva have history... and Taylor shows us that all's not fair in love and war... And that complete opposites can attract... but more of in a collision type of way. You may think it's "love at first sight" type, but it's more. So much more.
4. Every character is interesting. No, really. Laini Taylor's brilliance shows in her characterizations. I loved Zuzanna and the dialogue between her and Karou. So weird, but so funny. And I loved what Karou does to her ex. Girl power FTW. Karou's also definitely flawed but definitely a girl to whom you can relate. Pretty much loved all the character descriptions and dialogue.
5. Lastly, DSB is a book that does alternate perspectives well. Not only does they build suspense, but the switches also reveal a slice of the world you hadn't seen. I loved the parts that took a step back and showed us what the regular world would make of Karou... loved the teasers of Akiva's past... loved ALL OF THIS BOOK.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
1. With a first chapter like that, who wouldn't be hooked? (If you haven't read it yet and want me to email you, just let me know; it has been spread via Google Documents to the public). [Dear God, Michelle Hodkin. I want your genius.] Hodkin is an excellent writer--she knows exactly how to create suspense, and though some descriptions were at times dramatic, they fit the story well and added a poetic edge to it.
2. Like I said above for Laini Taylor, HOLY SHIT MICHELLE HODKIN. Seriously. An unreliable narrator in YA = pure genius. I have been interested in this book for so long simply because of that concept. It lent wonderfully to the thriller edge of the story. The summary does this book no justice.
3. The supernatural elements. They were definitely hinted at, but I didn't expect those at all, and I can't wait to see what else Hodkin'll do regarding the powers. (Also, random, but I wonder what the sequel title will be. Can it ever live up to the greatness that is The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer?)
4. Noah, romantic interest extraordinaire. Really, I have no idea why he was being compared to Patch from Hush, Hush. Yes, they're both arrogant; yes, they both are interested in the MC because she's "different" from other girls.... but in the end, their personalities are completely different. And though I like Patch (and he made it to my Top Ten YA Crushes), I honestly find Noah more appealing (despite the smoking, which I HATE).
5. The family. I usually don't care much if a paranormal story doesn't explain about the absence of the parents, but this story hooked me in with its family aspect. Not really the parents, though. The brothers. I loved Mara's relationship with both Daniel and Joseph. They felt so real and also made me more sympathetic to Mara's situation because I understand that duality of dependence and wanting to protect her brothers.
So now, my question is.... why are you still reading this and not reading these books?! :).