Sade's Reviews > Children of Blood and Bone
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!
Start panicking everyone!!!"
"An unknown force burns behind his amber gaze, a prison i can't escape. Something in his spirit seems to claw into mine"
please why??? why???"
"A strange sensation rushes through me, surfing through my veins, trapping the breath in my chest. With it, warmth buzzes under my skin. A death....
Like I'm just here like nawa oh."
ahn ahn.. what kind of wuru wuru writing is this one?
wuru wuru: basically means when you're trying to cut corners."
basically all Inan has been thinking about/ saying.
Inan: i can smell her soul .. turquoise clouds. Kill her.. kill the magic.. Kill her.. Kill the magic"
YA books are harder than adult fiction.. nothing is ever straight forward"
is it not the magic thing that has been established since?"
i really don't think the powers are well explained though."
mehn i just can't with this descriptions.........ehen he has started again Kill her Kill magic.. that's all Inan's thoughts are"
Could have just stopped at "something commanding" and we'd get the gist. but nope gotta be all sing song and add something golden too,
i feel like the author was deliberately vague on basically how the the whole magic system works just so she could put in anything.
Can't challenge something you don't know the mechanics of."
WTF is happening???? omg you guys!!!!
i'm going to to the gym cos i can't anymore!!!"
Things are being said but nothing is being explained."
Anyways what’s the deal with the hair? Also how on earth was Zèlie’s hair bone straight? Did she relax it?"
“She breathes her voice ragged. Her fingers dig into my back, pulling me closer”
Ahhhhhhhhh this book just did a 360 because this is not PG13"
We need to talk about how authors keep writing female leads that lose their head and sense because Man!! Sick of it!!"
On a positive note: Getting to the end, these chapters have actually been kinda exciting. Loved Amari in these chapters too."
rolling my eyes so far back i can't believe my eyes haven't popped out of my head!!!
How did this author write such an incredibly naive and totally irritating character. Kai!!!!
I can't be an editor."
OMG I'M SO ANNOYED!!"
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Oh you should totally watch the last airbender (not the movie though, that was like despair and sorrow) it's AMAZING!!!!!
I think people are just psyched that it's set in Nigeria and there are yoruba words there cos i mean, it's just so bleh.
lol like!!!! i wasn't expecting like something epic honestly but wow!! the plot holes were just way too glaring to ignore and ugh the love part, that was just No!!
Thanks Nenia.. I really was expecting a proper depiction of Nigeria but can't get it all i guess :(
lol It was so nauseating
Thanks Mary :)
I actually thought this read very much like Zutara fanfiction, where you don't need to develop the characters because, you know, your readers already know them. Which doesn't work in standalone high fantasy all that well. I actually got a little bit in, started realizing the plot was basically all the plot points of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and then I promptly told hubby everything that was going to happen. And I was right about almost everything. So it's pretty sad that I could call most of the plot at maybe 15% of the way through.
Thank you Sammie. yeah it was a real let down. especially as you know she could have done something totally different and bad ass...
Omg Bibi. No truer words have been spoken. I keep thinking that I should be happy. There's finally more books with POC main characters. And although I kind of am, I just feel expect more from an author of color. We've been have generic plots and forced love interests. I felt like maybe I was judging it too hard. But I just couldnt find it in me to love this or give it three stars. And that's painful really.
Thank you Maria :)
I first read your review a few weeks ago, and reread it today, with all of your updates this time, and that made me laugh! Your updates reminded me of what it felt like reading this book! :D
I had to read this novel twice before I could understand it well enough to write a review. I struggled pretty hard to understand the magic system, and some places I had to reread 4 or 5 times before I felt like I had a grasp of how things worked.
I finally finished editing my review for this book today. I also rated this book only one star. My review focuses on the religious ableism in the book, the main character's immoral behavior, and the problematic allegorical messaging. Because I am not an own voices reviewer, I linked your review into mine as an example of an own voices review (in this case, someone familiar with Yoruba and Nigerian mythology), and I just wanted to let you know that.
My review ended up being so long, I had to publish it on my website and just put my link here on Goodreads. If you want to know where to find that, it is here --
Thank you again for your review! I hope your next reads have been more enjoyable! :)
She uses actual cities and states in Nigeria but can be bothered to describe them accurately e.g ilorin a coastal city bordering on island? The protagonists ride lions-do we have lions in Nigeria? They eat antelope meat? For where?
Like you said this was a pretty generic and tired plot that if it was set in Europe or America with white characters the book would not receive all the positive attention it’s getting. The only thing unique about this book is it’s location.
I hate to say this but are they lowering the bar for black authors because they are black or they think they can market this as different because the characters are black?
These are excellent questions. And truly frightening for being such excellent questions. Thank you for sharing. <3
She uses actual cities and sta..."
like i was so excited that she actually used Nigeria, not knowing it was going to be some sort of token version.
oooh i get but that still isn't really the kind of hair you would find on the average Nigerian. The girls' you would usually find with the kind of hair the author used are usually Fulani..This is not to say you can't find girls' from other region with this kind of hair but that's like finding a needle in a haystack. it's just not that common especially for the ethnic group she picked.
yeah... i was totally enjoying it at first but ughhhhhhhh the main protagonist was just too silly for me.. Half of the things she did, i wanted to burst into the book and shake her hard lol.
Thank you for pointing out the fact that the MC has straight hair because that got to me too. It's almost like its justified. There's a scene where Zélie and Amari are talking and Amari mentions how Zéline's hair has curls and Zéline responds that it's due to her power - like what?
Also, something that really annoyed me were the decisions made by some of the characters in this book! Zélie is so immature, I wanted to go into this world and smack her myself! Was that just me? Lol.
LOL, what are you, the review police? How about instead of bashing an INCREDIBLE reviewer, you go add on to your own and enjoy the book with people who feel the same as you instead of soliciting your opinion where it's not welcome.
Mama i made it... i got my very own troll
Thank you for the compliment Nenia. I'm totally blushing here :)
Like I'm just here like nawa oh.
WTF is happening???? omg you guys!!!!
i'm going to to the gym cos i can't anymore!!!
How is this book so freakin long though. ???
^^^ THIS! I kept asking myself the same thing!
Can I just say that I find your liveblogging more entertaining than the book?
Thank you :)
That means a lot.
yeah it was super disappointing how she made her characters. From what i read on her blog and behind the book i think she wants people to focus less on where they're from and more on the struggles a minority group faces. She mentions the increased violence on black people in America and tries to tie it into the book but i'm just like umm okay even if you couldn't get basic Nigeria right (i mean it's not that hard anyways) could have at least given us a strong plot, but nope, Fail on both counts.
I was looking forward to a Nigeria-inspired fantasy but other than the Nigerian place names and some terminology that I had to guess the meaning of, this world seemed just like any other generic fantasy setting. I've never been to Nigeria but imho Nnedi Okorafor did a much better job with Lagoon (which admittedly is sci-fi) and Akata Witch.
Anyway, I was starting to doubt myself when I put this book down unfinished (so many 5-star reviews!) so I thought I'd try to find some Goodread reviews by Nigerian readers, because I actually thought that maybe Nigerian readers would take away much more from this book, and be able to enjoy it more. Apparently I was wrong :-) Thank you for your review.
Honestly not a problem if you viewed it that way... But there’s really only so much an author can erase of a country / people in the name of ‘fantasy’ if she wanted to create a new world she could have done it like Harry Potter.
Black hair just isn’t silky smooth like that. Zelie wasn’t bi-racial. Have you seen the hair of a typical Nigerian girl? I can tell you my hair wasn’t silky smooth until i got it relaxed. Black hair just isn’t like that, sure there’s maybe a 1% group that may be born with hair like that but that’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s not Black hair. . If it was just ‘fantasy’ she could have made their skin green so we know the rules of being Nigerian don’t apply.
With the settings, c’mon I mean was there a reason to put in snow? Nigeria is a warm country. See she really could have taken the yoruba aspect and created her own world and it would have worked perfectly for this abstract Black Country she tried to create.