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544 pages, Hardcover
First published March 6, 2018
“No matter how much I crave peace, the gods have other plans.”
A thoroughly dissappointing read.
Before i dive into this review, i'd just like to say that i did like the premise of this book. I liked the fact that Tomi wanted to explore Yoruba mythology, i also absolutely loved the fact that she wanted to put Nigeria not just as a place representing Africa as a whole but a country with it's unique culture and all that - she failed in that though , but hey at least she didn't do the whole Africa is a country thing.
First off: Adeyemi had a chance really to properly explore yoruba mythology and you know just educate people but somewhere along the line everything started looking like a rebooted Netflix Version of your fave animie. How do you delete Olodumare, Olorun and Olofi and put Sky Mother??? Who is that?
Then this Nigeria depicted in this book is so lazy. I know, i know, people might say it's fiction but Nigeria is a real ass place. The least you can if you're going to use real places and basically base the identity of your characters as Nigerians is to actually PROPERLY represent such a country. First of Nigeria is freaking huge. So when these characters were hot steping from Lagos - Ilorin - Sokoto in a matter of days i'm sorry i just couldn't roll with it. Then the weather, i mean c'mon snow in Ibadan??? Look i never saw snow until i lived outside Nigeria for 2 years. So this thing she does where she sort of uses weak token gestures to make these characters believable Nigerians is sad. I mean what is with this dashikis they were wearing? I didn't even see one mention of an Agbada or a fila or something.
Now that i think about it, you're not even sure what era in Nigeria she's basing her characterisation of Nigeria on. I'm saying this because she mentions Gombe State & Gombe was created in 1996 out of Bauchi State. Also, the author makes it seem like it's just Yoruba that exists in the whole of Nigeria. I find it difficult to imagine for example that people in Sokoto are going to care one hoot for a yoruba deity. Nigeria has so many tribes who i'm sure obviously have their own mythologies and the author basically saying the whole Nigeria is yoruba is just like i said, a lazy depiction of Nigeria.
Then the hair. See. I've noticed authors want to write in black women/girls but never want to write them with real hair. HOW WERE ZELIE & AMARI'S HAIR BONE STRAIGHT? Did they have relaxers? Binta's hair is literally described as falling in "silky sheets",I mean how??? Inan describes Zelie hair like this "White locks that once fell in smooth sheets now cascade down her back in flowing waves" Ugh!!!! Forget the mushy description. But even when her hair is going natural, Tomi Adeyemi still refuses to give her the typical hair you would find on an average Nigerian girl. I mean except she was bi-racial...?? Was she bi-racial? This hair thing was a huge fail.
Could be wrong, but i honestly feel like she was pandering to her non African audience in terms of the hair & depiction of Nigeria. Which is why her characters for me almost feel like foreign Nigerians. I mean even the name of her main character is so not Yoruba. Fun fact: There's no 'z' in the yoruba alphabet so where did the name Zelie come from?
Let's dive into the plot proper...Which is frankly a hot mess. The magic system is completely unexplained which i felt was delibrately done in order to carry Inan's story arc. Then blood magic?? Really if anyone knows what that was all about, feel free to explain it to me please.
The constant need YA authors have to pair characters up like if that doesn't happen, the whole plot will spontaneously combust. The annoying, irritating fact that even though this author is a woman she couldn't make Zelie bad ass enough and stop being so damn emotional.
We have so few bad ass female MC's, and the few YA authors manage to write, have their abilities forever overshadowed by falling in love with some freaking dramatic shit of a male character that cannot get his priorities right.
Also whoa!!! The Avatar Last Airbender similarites were so glaring that i was unable to unsee them at every freaking point.
I honestly feel the bar is basically set on the floor for YA novels, which is why someone can toss in a few Yoruba words, add a real African country in it for good measure, have a gaping plot hole in terms of the magic system, give characters magic willy nilly but still have everyone go awwww because hey guess what, i know i didn't tell you how it works but don't worry here's two beautiful characters falling in love don't stress yourself on how everything works. You want to know the deal with Blood magic? shhh shhhh here's two beautiful characters kissing.
Miss me with this book!
I try not to think of her.
But when I do, I think of rice.
When Mama was around, the hut always smelled of jollof rice.
I think about the way her dark skin glowed like the summer sun, the way her smile made Baba come alive. The way her white hair fuzzed and coiled, an untamed crown that breathed and thrived.
I hear the myths that she would tell me at night. Tzain's laughter when they played agbon in the park.
Baba's cries as the soldiers wrapped a chain around her neck. Her screams as they dragged her into the dark.
The incantations that spewed from her mouth like lava.
The magic of death that led her astray.
I think about the way her corpse hung from that tree.
I think about the king that took her away.
It's his blood.
The ultimate sacrifice.
The greatest blood magic I could wield.
The first two guards charge at me, swords pointed and raised. They run with a vengeance.
The last mistake they will ever make.
We are all children of blood and bone.
All instruments of vengeance and virtue.
This truth holds me close, rocking me like a child in it's mother's arms.
It binds me in its love as death swallows me into its grasp.
Here's the written review
Psst. A new video is up - all about the bad books I've read this year!
Now that you know that this one is on it, check out the Worst Books of 2019 video to see what other ones made the cut!
*cue me tearing my hair out*
I won't let your ignorance silence my pain
Courage does not always roar. Valor does not always shine.(Come on, admit it - there's at least 10 YA books who have use quotes like that).
You’re always screwing things up. Why stop now?One of my greatest pet peeves is when banter becomes arguments. I love a good exchange of wits, but that often requires...wit.
I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.Come on, really?
Love is too strong, too intense, for what I feel. For what I am allowed to feel.Combine that with the fact that it happened over the course of hours...ugh.
They don't hate you, my child. They hate what you were meant to become.Destiny, limited timeline, find your true love....yadda yadda yadda.
“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back!”
“I think about the way her corpse hung from that tree. I think about the king who took her away.”
“No matter how much I crave peace, the gods have other plans.”
“They built this world for you, built it to love you. They never cursed at you in the streets, never broke down the doors of your home. They didn’t drag your mother by her neck and hang her for the whole world to see.”
“You have your duty and your heart. To choose one means the other must suffer.”
“I won’t let your ignorance silence my pain.”
“The truth cuts like the sharpest knife I’ve ever known. No matter what I do, I will always be afraid.”
“Courage does not always roar. Valor does not always shine.”
“I teach you to be warriors in the garden so you will never be gardeners in the war.”
“We fought. We persevered. We rose.”
“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back.”
◇WRITING AND WORLD BUILDING
"Duty before self."