I wanted to like this book more than I did. There's so much to enjoy in here. The setting, the details, the characters, it's all brilliant. Even the writing is gorgeous, at least on the small scale. I adored the set-up with Karou and the chimera, I loved all the side characters, I liked Karou herself, which is rare for me to like protagonists.But even though all the details were great, it just didn't come together into a well-written book. The pacing on this thing was a complete mess. There's far too many pointless flashbacks at the start of the book, too much 'telling,' too many things that are interesting but not actually important. It makes the whole thing get off to a slow start. Then we get a bit of a pick-up in the middle, and suddenly everything comes to a crashing halt when the love interest shows up. Any time Karou and Akiva get together, it's just pages and pages and pages (and pages) of flowery soul-gazing and declarations that every twitch of a finger is somehow of cosmic meaning. It's endless passages of feelings and how said feelings are mysterious and profound and also Akiva is just ungodly attractive. No other part of the book is written like this, just the "romance." It's as if everything else in the book, every other relationship, had enough substance to stand on its own and be woven into the story, but Karou and Akiva didn't, so any reasonable progress and development was replaced with overwrought metaphors. Hell, they even fall in love in less than 24 hours. (Both times.) I guess if you like that sort of "sit around and stare deeply into someone's eyes and suddenly declare that it makes you feel metaphoric emotions" thing, you'll like it in this book. For being what it is, it's at least done well. But the real kicker, the thing that made me almost put the book down and not finish it? The last 100 pages is backstory. Kid you not, pure backstory. They literally break from the narrative, from everything that's going on, and spend 100 pages giving us the details of something that happened before the book opened. I already knew most of the relevant parts of that story before it got started, but rather than fill in the necessary holes and then getting on to Karou's missing family, no, we've got to spend 100 pages on what kind of dress she wore and some fancy party she went to. Worst of all, this 100 page story was presented to us as if it were the climax.Yeah, there's no climax in this book. There's conflict to be resolved, there's a story to be told, and we only get through about half of it. This whole thing is basically a 400 page long prologue for a really good book. It could have seriously benefited from a harsh editor who's unafraid to cut out the fluff, even if it is interesting fluff. Some things simply don't belong in a story, no matter how fun they are to write.