“As long as we don’t have magic, they will never treat us with respect. They need to know we can hit them back. If they burn our homes, we burn theirs, too.”
― Tomi Adeyemi,
Here we are again. I know. I can hear you all saying “Jeez louise what book DOESN’T underwhelm her?’
The answer is a lot of books don’t underwhelm me. It just so happens that I’m picking up a lot of books at the moment that don’t float my boat. Unfortunately this is one of them.
Children of Blood and Bone is set in a West-African inspired world. Magic has been taken away under the rule of a ruthless and hateful King and those who wield it (the Maji) have been targeted and killed en-masse. The Maji who remain are hated and live in fear, until hope washes up on a beach in the form of three magical artefacts that may hold the power to restore magic to the land. Now Zélie, who’s mother was killed during the raids, must journey with her brother and a renegade princess to restore magic to her people so that they may finally fight for their freedom.
Disclaimer. I’m going to shoot out all the things I disliked first off. But if you hold on in there, I do actually have some positive things to say as well (shocker).
I am a very character-driven person. It’s what I look for most in a book. I will take incredible characters any day over plot. So while this book has a lot of great aspects. I cannot get past the fact that the characters were flat as a French crêpe.
To me, they all sounded the same as each other. It kind of defeated the whole object of holding different points of view. The only one who sounded different was Inan and that’s only because his goals and beliefs were opposed to the rest of them. I didn’t feel any sort of character development going on and there was nothing unique about their personalities. I might have even forgiven the author for writing characters that I didn’t like, but I cannot forgive characters that invoke literally no reaction in me other than complete indifference.
Another issue for me was the dialogue. The flirting between Tzain and Amari was so very poor. And not purposefully; written in a ‘cutesy awkward way’ poor. Just Poor. It was clumsy and there was no chemistry. But I guess that comes from having two-dimensional characters. But worse than that were the multiple uses of sounds.
Whenever I character is hurt, falls over, is out of breath, smells something bad, the noise they made is SPELT OUT in letters. This seriously bothered me. We are intelligent readers and we have imagination enough to imagine the sound a person makes without having it put there phonetically. I felt like I was deciphering a cheesy comic book at times. It made me want to go “Gah!” and throw the book against the wall like “Pah-doosh”.
There were moments in the story when I felt that description of events had just been completely skipped over. For example, around half-way through the book, the trio witness a ‘game’ that is played, exploiting enslaved Maji. Tomi Adeyemi could have used this opportunity to really further the sense of injustice towards these people and the horrors they are put through. Instead it reads more like a brief overview of the rules and what happens before circumventing to the end. I felt a little cheated.
I don’t like to put spoilers in my reviews so I am going to make this as vague as possible because I have to mention it. The absolute end of the book left me totally confused. I wasn’t sure exactly what had happened. I’m not talking about in a cliff-hanger kind of way. It was in a that wasn’t explained properly kind of way. I don’t think I’m the only person who feels this and it is mightily frustrating, especially as this book took me forever to finish. But to be left confused and annoyed due to lack of proper explanation…
Now, as promised, some Positives.
The world that Tomi built was vast, different and vibrant. We had jungles, mountains, desserts and cities. She painted a world that is full of colour and life. For a debut author, she did an excellent job at world-building.
I also felt it was very clever of her to blur the lines of ethics. In most books you’ll have the good/right thing to do and the bad/wrong thing to do. But Tomi Adeyemi has remembered that life isn’t so black and white and that there are always positives and negatives on to all arguments. She expresses this by making the characters question themselves and their decisions. We get to witness our heroine Zélie understanding that bringing magic back, could potentially be harmful and question whether what she is doing is for the greater good or selfish reasons. This ‘back and forth’ alternating, may have annoyed some readers, but I thought it added a level of realism to the story. Because life isn’t always as simple as good and evil.
If you’re someone that isn’t too bothered by the characters in a book and is much more into the world and the plot, then I think you’d have a great time reading this Children of Blood and Bone.
However I just couldn’t get into it and I fail to see what the glowing hype is all about. I am going to go for 5/10 stars.
I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion. But hey, that’s what honesty is about baby.
I received a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Quote © Tomi Adeyemi 2018