I just finished reading Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi this morning, and I had to post a review because of how excited I was about it before reading it.
However, it wasn’t all that I wanted it to be. Here’s why…
*MILD SPOILERS MAY BE IN THIS POST – BEWARE!*
Characters were boring:
I find myself saying this a lot. For some reason, a book’s plot can be epic, filled with awesome ideas, but then the characters that the story is meant to follow are just poor. The same rang true for CBB. Sadly, Zelie was flat for me. I liked her to begin with, which was great, but then she became like most YA fantasy heroines: just a whiny, I’m-powerful-no-I’m-not-yes-I-am type.
Now, anyone who has read my fantasy series, The Eternity Series, may think that Letti is like this. And she is, at first. But I’d like to think she’s more playful and has an actual personality compared to some heroines I’ve read. Plus, even if the heroine isn’t working, I at least want to like another character. But no! In CBB, I didn’t like any of the characters. They were all flat, in my opinion. I’m sorry, Tomi Adeyemi!
The magic fell flat
Just like the characters, the magical elements in the book fell short as time went on. For some reason, the introductions to magic were awesome but then it became very meh. They did introduce new people who had new abilities and this was cool, but it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t awesome enough. It was a lot of talking, and very little ‘wow awesome magical stuff!‘
Unbelievable, forced love
Maybe I’m a bit harsh, but the couplings are rubbish! They were obvious. I mean, I knew that they’d come, for every YA fantasy seems to do this – including my own. But the love wasn’t great. It’s not like I was rooting for any of them to fall in love. In fact, I was hoping that Zelie would fall out of love! It was bluh! (I know I’m using sounds rather than words, but sometimes that works for me, OK!)
It’s just one minute there was nothing, then there seemed like a lot. And I didn’t feel like the characters had been through enough, or flirted, or admired, or whatever, enough for the word ‘love’ to even be used. Yet it was. And that didn’t work for me.
Flippy, floppy resolve
Now this one I did hesitate about writing in the bad section. I might contradict myself in the next section and explain why it did work for me. But the change in resolve did annoy me a bit.
I didn’t like that certain characters wanted something with all their heart one minute, then was completely against it the next, and then wanted it again. My favourite characters – ones like the Harry Potter cast, Percy Jackson cast, Naruto, Ichigo, Luffy (anime characters) – all had something very strong that was unwavering, and that was their resolve. I love the idea of a resolve that burns bright inside a character and doesn’t relent. So, maybe that’s why it didn’t work for me.
I always try to end on a positive note, so here’s all the good things about the book…
Change in resolve
As I said, I will contradict myself a little. I guess I did like the change in resolve a little as it changed the course of the book. It made things less linear, and more unpredictable. It shows a humanity, I think, to change your mind. Everyone does, really, especially a teenager with such a massive task on their hands.
I don’t know, it was weird. Letti (from The Eternity Series) does change her mind. One minute she thinks someone is bad, the next she decides they’re not. One minute she wants nothing to do with the immortal war, the next she does. So, I get the change in resolve thing. However, once Letti has all the information, her resolve in unwavering in one aspect – she can’t let things go on the way they are; things need to change for the better, and by her hands. I think this would have been nice to see from Zelie in CBB. Even with changing her mind and finding out new information, to see that moment of pure resolve set in would have really worked well.
Of course, the whole reason why I wanted to read the book is its magic. I liked the unique take on magic that I hadn’t personally seen or read before. It worked very well. I also liked the way the magic was created. The rituals and artifacts were great, very ancient and spiritual and creepy!
African mythology & culture
Another reason why I really wanted to read it was because of the all-black cast and the fact that it was written by a Nigerian woman. Yes, this is important because, sadly, there aren’t many books like this. I loved that Adeyemi wrote about her heritage. I loved reading about African culture. My partner is Zimbabwean, so I loved hearing Baba which is what I call my partner’s father. I loved the clothing, which reminded me of my time in Africa last year; and I loved the language. It was just beautiful, and definitely the strongest thing about the book.
The world creation
I liked the setting Adeyemi had created. I don’t know how much of it was based off Nigeria, or if at all, but I liked the map she created. I liked the lifestyle, weapons, and living situations. I liked the giant animals that they rode. This was something I could tell right away that she drew from Avatar: The Last Airbender, because I did the same! In a lot of anime, too, they ride giant creatures. I later found out that she did actually like Avatar and I found that so cool! It’s awesome to have something in common with an author you’re reading.
Although it was, of course, an issue in the book, I also liked the segregation. The classism. The royals and the peasants, as it were. It’s something that definitely needed to be there and it was an ideal carried strongly throughout the book.
I love the idea of unique gods. Again, I don’t know if this was taken from Nigerian beliefs, or from her African mythology studies, but I really like the gods she used. There was a god for each magical power, and those gods worked to breath magic into the Diviners. I loved this concept. I loved the idea of the gods, without it being as rigid as religion.
Social issues addressed
The greatest thing about the book is the reason behind why it was written in the first place – to address social issues. This book is so important because, as I said before, it features an all-black cast. It is written by a black woman. It is actually a bestseller, despite those things. That alone is something for the history books because when you type in ‘the best authors in the world’ or ‘bestselling authors’, it’s largely white faces that you see. Or men. But Adeyemi has given something special to us female authors of colour; she has paved the way (along with the likes of Angie Thomas, Zadie Smith, etc).
But the book itself was trying to address the issue of black crime. Adeyemi was trying to show how the way someone looks can mean they are deemed less-than in our world, too. That black people are being killed by people of authority, police, unjustly. Her book shows how real and raw and devastating this is. It’s disgusting. And hopefully, with how popular her book is, and how sought-after her opinion now is, this can change.
Overall, I liked reading CBB. I wouldn’t have finished reading it if it wasn’t a good book, for I am a firm believer in ‘if you’re not enjoying it, move on.’ It’s a long book and perhaps it could have been shorter, but in general, it worked really well. I am sure that it will pave the way for a great many more books like this. That alone is very special. Well done, Tomi Adeyemi, for a great debut novel, and I look forward to reading the next one!