Book Review: Children Of Blood And Bone || Tomi Adeyemi
For the month of July, the #LipglossmaffiaReadingChallenge will be focusing on sci-fi and fantasy. I started early because June was such a drag. Did you read my wrap up? (Check here). I read too many to put reviews up so to keep, you should follow me on Instagram @lipglossmaffia.
Title: Children Of Blood And Bone
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
My Ratings: 3 out of 5 stars
BLURB: 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.
“They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.”
If that’s not cheesy to you, I don’t know what is. So, to be fair I really enjoyed the novel. Tomi Adeyemi is very descriptive, and I liked her storytelling skills. But I have mixed feelings that’s why I gave it 3 stars. As exciting as the novel is, a few things distracted me from fully immersing myself into Children Of Blood And Bone.
I really thought I was going to love Zélie and her badass nature but Zélie was one of the most immature, stupid characters I’ve ever read about. You know those characters that you scream at in your head? That makes you want to physically throw the book against the wall? I couldn’t because the book is so friggin’ gorgeous. She was one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy this book as I should have. She consistently made horrible decisions, and it was always others that had to pay for her utter lack of logic.
Then there’s the naming system. While most 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. (Or maybe that’s just me) I felt the names were totally inappropriate. Yoruba is unlike the shallow English Language.
It is a language with a lot of emphasis on semantics. Everything has a meaning. Every meaning, every name is significant. Funmilayo Forest??? Really??? How is a forest supposed to give you joy??? Forests in Yoruba mythology are dark, forbidden places, typically evil in nature.
We don’t use ‘wood’ or ‘jungle’ to describe them in Nigeria. It’s just not appropriate. They’re called ‘forest’ because that’s the closest word in the English Language that indicate a bit of their mytho-religious significance. Adetunji Sea? Really? In short, I felt the names didn’t reflect the soul of what they were meant to represent.
Mines of Calabar? That’s straight from Legend of the Seeker. She could’ve simply said Calabar. When Calabar is discussed, what comes to mind is the beautiful women and the delicious food. I don’t think there are any mines in Calabar. Perhaps, a floating Calabar would’ve been more appropriate instead of a floating Ilorin.
The summary is that I felt Tomi tried to compress African setting and mytho-religion into the narrow confines of American YA. While the writing and the storyline are quite good, it’s the world-building that’s the problem. I’d score it a big zero and I’m sure any Nigerian who comes across this will feel the same.
The book appeals to white folk because it’s written to resemble American YA. The gods and goddesses of Yoruba traditional religion are not as nice, not as approachable and certainly darker. The use of the Yoruba language in the books is pretty much unsatisfactory.
Incantations are certainly not that literal. Real incantations are composed of a complex kind of poetry in mostly archaic Yoruba, a lot of figurative meanings, allusions, and other indirect literary devices.
It’s not a bad book altogether though. But it’s not 100% African. It’s a supposedly African book that closely mirrors American YA. Maybe 5% African. The soul of the entire thing is certainly not African, and not Yoruba.
And finally, the ending. I mean, what was that? Obviously, I can’t go into details so as not to spoil anything but I was extremely aggravated at the events leading to the ending. It felt like certain things that a certain character did were so irritatingly and utterly dumb and completely out of left field that you could tell from a mile away that it was only there for shock value and no other reason at all.
I wish there were better and more clever ways to end the book.
Hopefully, the next book in the series will come with big improvements in the world-building because I’m certainly going to read it.
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