I was so excited about Children of Blood and Bone, y’all!
This was one of my splurges because it was a bit expensive for me. I was pumped. Couldn’t wait for my exams to finish so that I can start reading it.
Who knew I’ll hate it so much. In fact, I wanted to sell it back and get another book ASAP because I don’t want to hold on to it. Going for that in a couple of hours.
If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen the annotating and the frustration. Well, I’m here to vent it all out in a non-spoiler review. I have many annotations. Let’s go.
If you loved the book, you might not want to read this review.
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut Children of Blood and Bone.
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zelie remembers when the soil of Orisha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zelie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden.
Zelie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zelie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orisha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zelie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.
Trigger warnings: Murder, blood, violence, torture, emetophobia, sexual assault, physical abuse, slavery, colorism, beating, self-harm imagery, death of a character, death of a parent.
what I thought was okay
Because I only have two feelings about this book—okay/meh and dislike.
- Inan. He was meh and towards the end I started disliking him as well. He only wanted his father’s approval that he’ll be a good king. That is understandable. He also wanted his sister to be safe despite their bad past. He also got torn between the two sides of whether magic is good or not. I found that good because usually characters just pick a side without thinking of pros and cons. Inan’s journey was the most interesting of all the characters.
In the face of magic we all become ants.
- The concept. The maji, the names and the gods/goddesses. It’s mostly the same elemental and few other powers but it was still new and different.
what I disliked
There is a lot.
- Except for the setting, colour of people and the names it was the SAME STORY that we’ve seen until now. Honestly I haven’t found anything new. It’s the same American YA fantasy with a few changes. The magic powers, the forbidden love, the “quest”.
- The forbidden love. A trope that I hate which is only trumped by my hate for love triangles. I’ve had enough of characters and their thoughts like “oh my gosh I can’t be liking him he’s my enemy but I still like him so muchhhhhh what do I dooooo”. This was pretty much like how it was.
- Zelie. Guys I HATED HER SO MUCH ashdhhhfhkj. If she’s somehow “the chosen one” there has to be something special about her right? Wrong. She’s nothing special other than being the daughter of a powerful Reaper who got killed during the raid. Other than that, Zelie has a temper, she’s stupid, doesn’t think before acting and is annoying as heck.
“Zelie’s doing something stupid, and sooner or later it’s going to blow up in her face.”
She just does what she wants to without thinking about the risk or repercussions and the only reason she’s alive is because of her brother Tzain who’s always there to help her. And she doesn’t see that!
“If you could hear the dung you’re spewing” Tzain pulls at his hair.
This line was so funny though because he was being hypocritical and she was being stupid so all around it was dung being spewed XD
- Amari. She was a meek girl who was sheltered COMPLETELY by her father, only primed to be a “good bride”. The only thing she had was her best friend and maid Binta. Binta got killed because she accidentally got magic back and Amari, not having the actual guts to do anything, stole the scroll (that gave magic to anyone who touched it) and ran away. Her character was supposed to show character growth but honestly I could care less. I didn’t like her at all so by the time she had “changed” I refused to see her.
- Tzain. I was meh about him like Inan but soon I got annoyed with him as well. Amari came along and he just liked her ASAP?? Oh so a pretty girl comes over and you don’t think about things like who she is and what she’s doing before liking her? Only at that point Zelie made sense. And by the end I didn’t like Tzain because he was being hypocritical. He liked Amari while hating Inan for the same thing. Nice.
He leads like a seasoned general, wise from years of war.
HE HAS NO EXPERIENCE. Sure I’m supposed to like this but once I start disliking a book, everything looks bad. Sorry, not sorry.
- Zelie being special?? Honestly I totally did not understand that part. I don’t want to spoil by saying more but yeah that.
You’ve been chosen by the gods.
Pfft what a cliched line.
- At one point they started celebrating and I just ???? no ?????????? YOU HAVE SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO NOT PARTY AND KISS. I underlined the line “we have to celebrate!” and wrote “NO! FOOLS. WHAT.” Honestly, I’ve annotated so much in this book and everything is frustration.
- At this one point, there was a dreamscape and swimming and I just don’t get it?? Why even?? The purpose was supposed to be completely different but it’s ROMANCE? Ahem BYE.
- Mention of kink. This is a YA book and in a world where there is no internet so how did there come to be a comment of bondage from teenagers???? I cringed, thinking 13-year-olds will be reading this.
- So much cringe and cliches. I honestly rolled my eyes so many times in this book. Take a look at the following lines.
- Something happened to him, and I know it has to do with you.
- …his strong, imposing frame…
- I laughed and spun and kissed as the king prepared our slaughter.
- I also found the ultimate cliched line, TWICE.
- A warm rush of air fills my lungs—I don’t know when I stopped breathing.
- I release a breath I didn’t realize I was holding.
I went to Goodreads looking for negative reviews on the book because I was not liking it and wanted validation that I wasn’t alone. And I found quite a few reviews that I completely relate to and I want to quote them here.
Here’s one by a Nigerian and because they’re the ones actually relating to the book most, I felt this review is important. We might like it but is it actually accurate a little or is it good from Africans’ point of view?
“… While it’s a good book (for most YA fans), I found it far too typical, too clichéd, too predictable. … It’s a great idea, but I must say (from a Nigerian POV), it’s poorly, poorly done. … And then there’s the naming system. While you white folks are probably raving about the story and all, it’s us Yoruba people that’ll shake our heads at how our dear language was properly murdered. … The summary is that I felt Tomi tried to compress African setting and mytho-religion into the narrow confines of American YA. .. The use of the Yoruba language in the books is pretty much unsatisfactory. … The soul of the entire thing is certainly not African, and definitely not Yoruba. … if you’re Nigerian and you’re hoping to find something of our culture in this, chances are you’d be disappointed. …”
“●If you’re looking for a book with originality, this is not the book.
●If you’re looking for a book with amazing characters, this is not the book.
●If you’re looking for a book with diverse coloured characters, this is not the book for you. I felt as if they were white, I just could not imagine them black.
●If you’re looking for a book with good world building, this is not the book.
●If you’re looking for a book with a great plot, this is not it. Its like a combination of Throne of Glass, Ember in the Ashes and lots of other YA. …”
“If I hadn’t looked at the character name at the top of each chapter it could have been any one of the three characters in the story. Nothing set them apart.
Non-existent action. The plot promises the return of magic, but the quest to get there is boring and unoriginal. … This is the same plot of so many books out there. It’s not a new concept. Sure, it promised diversity. It’s set in Africa, everyone is a POC. But that’s not enough to make this story great. If we as readers want diversity in our fantasy we have to demand books that are good. We can’t praise books that aren’t good just because they have diversity. We have to have higher standards.”
The only reason I read the book to completion was because I paid for it. That’s all.
As you can see, I really disliked it. Diversity is good. It means a lot. Every time I see an Indian character shown, I’m overwhelmed with joy. But does it mean I’ll take sub-par stories with Indian characters? No. Because the whole reason I read books is for the stories, to get away. The representation is a close second but still not first. As Gaby said (and I quoted her above), diversity is good but that’s not enough to make a story great.
If you liked it, good for you. If you’re planning to read it, don’t go in with lots of expectations. I know that a LOT of people liked it so maybe you may too. It’s just unfortunate that I didn’t like it.