Children of Blood and Bone: Review
Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi's debut novel, was easily one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. I was thrilled to be able to get a *signed* copy at my first-ever Comic Con last year and finally completed this 600-page beast this week! Read on for my full review!
Note: I received an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. All quotes mentioned are from an unfinished proof.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
First of all, did you see the viral video of Tomi Adeyemi opening up a box of finished copies of this book? It is so heartwarming and full of pure, raw happiness. It doesn't hurt that Stephen King retweeted it himself! I was rooting for Adeyemi already, before I even cracked open Children of Blood and Bone.
Children of Blood and Bone is paced very quickly. A lot happens in this book, the first of a series and because of that, I got the feeling that this was very much a book destined for a movie. It is jam-packed with action and constant movement. And guess what? It's actually already been optioned for a movie by Fox 2000! But to be honest, in addition to all of this motion, I wanted more emotion. I needed more introspection, more showing instead of telling. While I loved each character by the end of the book, I think it was only because the book was 600 pages long that I felt like I got enough out of them. Had the book been 400 pages, I would not have been as satisfied with their development. My honest opinion here is that the best parts of the book happen in the last two hundred pages.
I have to get this out of my system. Children of Blood and Bone reminded me a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender. In this beloved television show, powerful benders are able to control elements of earth, water, wind, and fire. "Everything changed when the fire nation attacked." They imposed their will on the other nations and oppressed their use of bending. The main conflict is between the avatar, a master of all four elements, and Prince Zuko, the embattled prince of the Fire Nation who longs for his father's approval and seeks to kill the avatar to earn it. Taking these basic characteristics, I can apply them Children of Blood and Bone and summarize the book similarly. In the west African-inspired kingdom of Orisha, magi once existed across the land. They wielded a variety of powers, from summoning the dead to commanding the elements, and were easily identified by their silvery white hair. However, a single monarch brutally wiped out the magi, and now this once-powerful people is an oppressed minority within Orisha. Zélie, one of our main characters, has the blood of the magi flowing through her veins, and is destined for greatness- the chance to bring magic back.
The book alternates between several first person perspectives. We have Zélie, the fiery warrior who fights for her family and to raise her people above oppression. There is Amari, a princess on the run whose intentions defy those of her tyrannical father. Then, we have Inan (my favorite!), the crown prince whose greatest desire is to win his father's approval and be a good king. Inan's moral conflicts is truly what made this book great. He battles between what is right and what is good. Each character is different in their motivations and morals but Zélie and Inan are definitely more fully developed than Amari. It takes her several hundred pages to grow into her character and show us why she is a truly integral part of the story.
The mythology of Children of Blood and Bone could have been expounded on. There are so many different types of magi and powers that my head was spinning. There are two scenes were the origins of the magi are told and they are so beautiful- I wish we could have spent more time with the ancient gods. At the heart of this book and Zélie's mission are three artifacts that can supposedly help Zélie bring magic back to her people- but I could not tell you what's so significant about these artifacts. Why does the scroll do what it does? What makes the sunstone different from an ordinary shiny rock?
But you know what makes Children of Blood and Bone truly amazing, and deserving of all the hype? It is unique and elevates a voice in YA science fiction and fantasy that I've seldom read before. The themes are incredibly powerful: pride in one's heritage and the strength to rise up against oppression and slavery; judgment based on one's looks, the color of their skin, and the shape of their hair. I mean, just look at the cover and power in this woman's eyes! I could never have imagined seeing a book like this on shelves when I was younger.
I rate Children of Blood and Bone 4/5 stars!
Children of Blood and Bone releases on March 6th and you can pre-order it now! Submit proof of your pre-order purchase and get a limited edition poster from Fierce Reads!