DNF Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Information

Goodreads: Children of Blood and Bone
Series: Legacy of Orïsha
Source: Library
Published: April 2018

Summary

When she was six, Zélie Adebola saw her mother killed for her magic.  Now, there is no magic left in the land of Orïsha.  But then she meets a runaway princess carrying a scroll that she claims can bring the magic back.  And suddenly Zélie is travelling with her brother and the princess in a race to bring together a group of artifacts before the solstice.  Only then can they ensure that magic will return for good.  But a disgraced prince is hot on their trail.

Review

I wanted to love this book.  I had heard so many good things about it and was assured that here, finally, was an original YA fantasy.  In fact, I almost stopped reading fourteen pages in because of how unoriginal the plot actually is.  Still, I persevered until I reached the halfway point, thinking that perhaps things would get better.  But by then, I could no longer stand the hodepodge of fantasy elements, the unconvincing worldbuilding, the uneven pacing and characterization, and the clear “enemies to lovers” trope foreshadowed from the start.  I rarely DNF books, but I simply could not stomach any more of Children of Blood and Bone.

Despite the claims of originality, the premise of the story is, in fact, the premise of several YA fantasies I have read recently. An oppressed population has been stripped of their magic by a tyrant king, but a teenage girl, the chosen one, will return it.  Of course, fantasies have the same premises and even the same elements, but still manage to combine them in new and interesting ways.  So this alone might not mean Children of Blood and Bone is unbelievably cliche and boring. Generous readers might even be able to overlook all the obvious parallels to Avatar: The Last Airbender.  However, the story attempts to cram in about every fantasy and every YA fantasy element one could think of, without regard to the logic of the story.  The result is that Children of Blood and Bone feels like a derivative hodgepodge of about any fantasy you might care to name.

This hodepodge construction affects the believability of Tomi Adeyemi’s secondary world.  I was never drawn into the setting, never able to believe I was there, because her influences are too obvious and poorly connected.  For instance, Adeyemi strings together a flight from the palace to the marketplace (complete with chase scene), to a floating fishing village, to a mountain jungle (complete with ruined temple and rickety bridge escape) to a desert (complete with slave labor and gladiator arena).  None of these elements really seems to go together.  It feels like we’re in the middle of several different stories (all of which you have read before) and we just jump from one to another when it begins to get boring.  It might help if Adeyemi showed more of the travel from one destination to the next, but she tends to dismiss these interludes with a few sentences, leaving one feeling like the characters simply walked off a lush mountain jungle straight into a desert where the Romans still rule.

The magic system, too, leaves much to be desired because, frankly, it does not make any sense to me.  Perhaps the second half of the book expands on the explanations.  But what I understood is that magic is hereditary, except maybe it’s not if the gods decide so.  And you need to study hard and use incantations to perform and strengthen magic, but maybe not if the plot demands it.  Also, the gods want to connect with mortals, but not really.  They will intervene to bring people and objects together, but their interest is so minimal that, if the humans fail to bring certain artifacts together in a ritual every so many years, the connection is severed forever.  I really don’t get it.  Even gods who are portrayed as needing a ritual or sacrifice to respond don’t typically remove themselves forever after one failed ritual.  Do they care or not?

The pacing of the story does not mend matters.  The story switches among the perspectives of Zélie, the princess Amari, and Amari’s brother Inan.  Zélie‘s chapters tend to go quickly–they are the ones where the characters zoom from water to jungle to desert.  Amari’s chapters are few and far in between, very short, and usually pointless.  They just reiterate her feelings (the same ones) so readers don’t forget she exists, or something.  And then there are Inan’s chapters.  His chapters, compared to Zélie‘s, are excruciatingly slow.  He struggles with his father’s orders to kill everyone on sight, kills people anyway, regrets it, and then begins the cycle over again the next time.  I think this is supposed to be character development, but, in fact, Inan is not developing at all.

Except, of course, Inan obviously will suddenly develop later in the story when he begins his tropey romance with Zélie.  I assume he will abruptly forget all the massacres he committed, Zélie will forgive him, and everything will be rainbows and roses.  This is so utterly ridiculous that I did not bother finishing the book in part because I am not sure I can handle it.

But the overriding reason I chose to DNF is because of the darkness. I simply cannot spend any more time in a book where entire villages are routinely massacred and burnt to the ground.  I cannot spend any more time in a book where every person who speaks to Amari is abruptly killed.  I cannot spend any more time in a book where each new scene depicts increasingly larger numbers of people murdered in new ways.  I cannot spend any more time in a book where everything is unrelentingly dark and depressing.  I need the light to peek through, at least sometimes.

I know this is an unpopular opinion and that Children of Blood and Bone has received an overwhelmingly positive response.   I recognize that people are excited to read a fantasy based on Nigeria–I was too.  However, I do not believe Children of Blood and Bone is well written.  And I have to be honest about that in my review.

1 star

96 thoughts on “DNF Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

  1. The Hermit Librarian says:

    I’m still reading this and while I’m liking it well enough, I can agree with you on a few points. I’m not sure what my percentage is, but suffice it to say, the “romance”/enemies-to-lovers or whatever it is between Inan and Zelie seems very strange to me. I don’t think I’m going to like it, no matter how it works out, especially because, as you mentioned, a LOT is going to have to be forgiven for anything to allow these two to couple. I thought that Zelie and Amari would be a much more likely pairing, but as I’m reading, apparently that’s not going to happen so… :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I’m all for characters changing and for forgiveness being extended. But Zelie hates Amari just for being the princess/related to the king. So how am I supposed to buy that she’s suddenly going to transcend normal human emotions and forgive and make out with the guy who burnt her village to the ground, destroyed her life, and killed scores of people, many of whom she knew? Seriously, am I supposed to think that love (or lust?) is so overpowering that Zelie is going to be all over Inan when she can barely be civil to his (in comparison) innocuous sister, whose biggest crime seems to have been complacency as opposed, to, you know, mass murder? It makes no sense! Regardless of what I think of it, it’s completely out of character for Zelie.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Hermit Librarian says:

        Yeah, working that one out is going to be…interesting. In the grand scheme of things, I think it’s more likely that Amari would’ve at least had a chance character wise because they’re travelling together, so there’s exposure to each other. Time to talk, to get to know each other, etc. Yes, there’s a LOT of stuff to get through and it’s still incredibly unlikely, but it’s more believable that Inan.

        Like

        • Krysta says:

          Zelie/Amari would make more sense to me, too, as Amari seems, well, she seems kind of bland to me, but like she could develop some more confidence and be a great team with Zelie. Who knows? It could still happen. I haven’t finished the book. I don’t know what hints may have been dropped. :b

          Liked by 1 person

          • The Hermit Librarian says:

            I’m not sure myself. I don’t think that’s going to be where things go, as much as I want, but fingers crossed. Plus, who knows? Things could always change in book two! If I read that one, I’ll let you know. lol

            Like

  2. luvtoread says:

    Wow! What a review! I think this is the first DNF review of this book that I’ve read, and your reasons for DNF’ing are clearly supported in your review. I really loved this book – I loved the setting, but I can see the plot downfalls. Sounds like you actually read pretty far into the book if you got to the gladiator arena part of it. There’s a part right after the gladiator section that really bugged me and felt extremely forced, but all in all I enjoyed the read. I do agree with your stance about the darkness of the book – I think that’s what made it seem a bit more “adult” than typical YA to me.
    This is why book blogs are so wonderful! We all have different opinions and it’s really great. Even though I enjoyed Children of Blood and Bone and am eagerly waiting for the sequel to be released, I also enjoyed reading your DNF review of it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I think characterization and worldbuilding (along with internal logic) are my two main needs for fantasy and this just didn’t deliver. I could possibly pretend to go along with the Zelie/Inan thing, no matter how weird and disturbing it is to me (weird and disturbing romances are par for the course in YA these days), and even the blatant parallels with Avatar: The Last Airbender–if the characters were well developed and if the world made sense. Alas, this book was not for me. I admit the glowing reviews completely baffle me as I can’t see what it is everyone else seems to be seeing. But I suppose it must be nice? I’d rather enjoy a book than not enjoy it. :b

      Liked by 2 people

      • luvtoread says:

        I haven’t read/seen any Avatar to be able to compare to that, and even my overall YA fantasy reading has dwindled lately as well. I’ve been uninspired to pick up YA, particularly YA fantasy, as so many of the reads sound so similar.
        Life is too short & there are too many books out there to read a book that you don’t enjoy! I’ll usually finish a book because I always think “oh maybe it will all come together at the end”. I’ve been disappointed many times because of this thinking! 🙂 I keep thinking I should re-evaluate what makes me DNF a book.

        Like

        • Krysta says:

          Avatar is pretty great if you ever see it, though I think the first season is a bit weak so you might have to ignore that and persevere. 😆 But it is basically about a brother and sister who go on a journey with another girl and the Avatar to arrive somewhere before the solstice so they can save the world. Meanwhile, a disgraced and conflicted prince is hot on their trail.

          Sometimes I wonder if I have up on this one because of length. I basically read the equivalent page length of another book before I gave up. 😕

          Liked by 1 person

          • luvtoread says:

            Hmmm…. that Avatar plot sounds awfully familiar! Wow – no wonder you were so frustrated with the plot of Children of Blood and Bone! Is there anything that is purely original anymore?

            Like

            • Krysta says:

              I think things can feel original if combined effectively into their own secondary world. Also…it helps if you don’t take the entire basic outline of a story. For instance, if someone wrote a fantasy with a magic ring, I’d definitely think of Tolkien. However, magic rings existed before Tolkien. Different types of magic rings can be used effectively. However, if someone wrote a story where a group of five people from three different races must go on a quest to destroy a magic artifact in the place where it was created…yes, I’m going to side-eye it.

              The interesting thing about basing the story on Avatar: The Last Airbender, though, is that A:TLA is about using nonviolence to effect change. Aang, the Avatar, must stop the Fire Nation from taking over the world with their soldiers and everyone wants him to kill the Fire Lord to do it. However, he doesn’t want to. He thinks there has to be another way.

              In contrast, Zelie becomes a Reaper and she uses her powers to raise the souls of people who had terrible lives and deaths and now are existing in some sort of hellish afterlife–and she creates an army. She then uses her army of anguished souls to try to wipe out an arena full of people. In effect, she seems to be using the same sorts of violent tactics as her enemies and it’s condoned and even celebrated because her enemies are evil and deserve it. To me, it looks book two is going to be a bloodbath as the country plunges into ethnic warfare. That’s pretty much the opposite of A:TLA, which advocates for nonviolence as a way to effect lasting change.

              Like

  3. Kim @ Traveling in Books says:

    This is not the first bad review I’ve seen for this book, though it’s the first DNF. I actually took it off of my TBR a few months ago after a reviewer I trust skewered the internal inconsistencies they found. I had hoped that this would be a wonderful story, but it seems that the characters are sort of… Meh.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I thought the characters were kind of standard (plus loosely based on Avatar: The Last Airbender). Good characterization can draw me in, even if a story has other flaws, but I felt like Amari was nothing but a plot catalyst. She has no personality and basically exists to steal one of the magic artifacts. Inan just cycles through, “Oh no! I can’t be a mass murderer! JK, I totally can! But now I feel bad! But I’ll do it again next time anyway!” Zelie is just angry in general at everyone. Meh indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Krysta says:

          Avatar is so great! Though I fortunately saw season three first because season one is kind of weak. But it is basically a brother an d sister travelling with another girl and the Avatar to get somewhere before the solstice to save the world. They are pursued by a disgraced and conflicted prince.

          Like

  4. jenchaos76 says:

    Maybe I have bad taste, but I liked it despite the flaws. Admittedly, I never read YA fantasy or YA for that matter, so it did not appear copied to me. Perhaps if I had, I would have dropped it also.

    The dark side was bad, yes. But I saw that as part of what made the story so sad. The none magical community would rather annihilate the magic wielders in awful ways then let them live. This is how humanity is. Man is sick.

    It may be a little too dark for kids though.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I’ve seen mostly rave reviews and Entertainment Weekly seems to think Adeyem is “the next J. K. Rowling,” whatever that means (I didn’t read the article, just saw the headline.). I appear to be in the minority with my opinion here!

      Yeah, I saw what she was trying to do in depicting genocide, but I just couldn’t stand Inan and Zelie finding new ways to kill off scores of people in every scene. The mass murders in the name of finding the artifact and in the name of revenge for the mass murders committed by the king were too much for me. It might have been different if it were mostly history, but I couldn’t take it after Zelie and her friends thought they were oh so clever in finding ways to wipe out everyone in the arena. They’re people, too, even if Zelie hates them all.

      Liked by 2 people

      • jenchaos76 says:

        I never thought of it that way, It dies seem kind of bad in retrospect. It should not be read by kids because it promotes mass violence against people you hate.

        Like

        • Krysta says:

          I did get the impression that Zelie isn’t necessarily better than the people she’s fighting. Yes, she’s been oppressed. Yes, her people have been oppressed. But I’m not convinced that retaliatory violence is going to heal her country. It seems like they’re just heading for an unending war until they mutually wipe each other out. The narrative seems to be that “Righteous anger justifies any act” and that’s not a message I can support.

          And I would agree that this seems like a book at least for older teens, maybe 16+. I wouldn’t recommend it to a thirteen-year-old browsing the YA section.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Oh no! Your comments keep going to spam! But this one’s been rescued!

      And I love how you still plan to read this! Sometimes people worry about negative reviews being mean or affecting sales, but I read negative reviews all the time and still decide to read the book!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Shalini says:

    I loved your review and the logical way you presented your points. This book is in my TBR but I never felt an immediate need to read it in spite of raving reviews

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I increasingly find that books never quite live up to the hype. :/ I typically prefer to go in with no expectations since then I’m not judging a book against impossible standards.

      Like

      • Grab the Lapels says:

        I find that any book someone says I “must” read often doesn’t work for me. The more widely a person reads (not sticking to I’ve genre), the more he/she can find where new books are like old books. I often am recommended YA books, and when I do read them I’m left with the impression that I’ve already read the story, only for an adult audience with more sophisticated langue and realistic adult behavior. If a book is the right speed for me, it’s not that I “must” read it, but I want to read it enough to seek it out.

        Like

        • Krysta says:

          Yeah, it could be that people who read more widely or even who read more fantasy will notice more similarities to other works than people who don’t read as much, but picked up a book because everyone else is talking about it. I generally try to ignore hype and read books based on whether the summary makes it sound like something I would enjoy!

          Like

            • Krysta says:

              I liked The Hate U Give, I think because I really fell in love with the characters. If the characters grip me, I’m probably going to like the book. But, I still must red Dumplin’!

              Like

  6. coffeestarsbooks says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m one of the people who really enjoyed the book, but I definitely think you have some good points in this. I also like that you didn’t just put it down, but gave good reasons for doing so 😀

    Like

  7. Sahi says:

    I stopped reading this book after 60 pages and I dont even know why… I just wasn’t interested to continue…
    but I guess your review puts everything into perspective… love the way you express everything that you found problematic… Awesome review 😊😊

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      It was hyped as original, but there’s nothing original about it. I really feel like the book could have been set in a pseduo-medieval European world and we’d have had essentially the same story. After all, we have had the same story in that setting. A gazillon times.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sahi says:

        I guess it is hyped as original because it’s based on the Nigerian culture and an all black cast… but the tropes are still the same… However, I’m sure it would be nice for teens of color to be able to see themselves in the story and relate to it…

        Like

        • Krysta says:

          Well, I guess I was expecting more because it was implied that the culture would affect who the characters are and how they see the world. I actually read a few reviews on Goodreads from readers in NIgeria who were disappointed by the representation of the geography, language, religion, etc. and felt that they were given an “Americanized” representation of their culture. And I can see that.

          In contrast, I think Mirage was really well done because I don’t see the characters as 21st-century American teens transported to a fantasy/sci-fi version of Morocco. They have distinct customs and traditions, as well as a very strong sense of family and how family shapes their identity. In other words, I felt like they had a real culture and it shaped who they were and the decisions they made. And that’s good worldbuilding and good characterization.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sahi says:

            That sounds awesome… I would have to checkout Mirage… And I totally understand when you say Americanized versions of the characters… I find that difference when I read books written by Indians vs Indian American authors… but both are relatable in their own ways.. However, I understand how it can feel to native readers to find their culture not being represented well despite being publicized that way…

            Like

            • Krysta says:

              And I agree there is definitely a need for people to see themselves represented in literature! And, to some extent, authors will never please everyone when they write! But I think the effort here or the idea behind the work was laudable.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Sahi says:

              Yes.. the idea is definitely great and I also like that it got good publicity.. hopefully it’ll encourage more authors of color to explore their cultures..

              Liked by 1 person

  8. CHARIS RAE @ charisrae.com says:

    Wow… I actually haven’t seen any negative reviews about this book. XD I absolutely loved this one! The plot was pretty cliché, and I also thought the mishmash of different biomes was odd. But I thought the worldbuilding in each area was fantastic and so realistic. And I definitely agree about the magic… it was extremely cliche and a little preachy in my opinion. But I loved the characters, the romance, plot, and just about everything else. XD

    Thanks for this review, Krysta! 🙂

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      The general consensus does seem to be that this book is amazing. I admit I’m really confused by that. :b Which is disappointing because I was looking forward to this. I put the book on hold and eagerly awaited it to come in and everything.

      Like

  9. Gerry@TheBookNookUK says:

    I actually reviewed very similar to this in that I DNF’d CoBaB but that I thought it was a shame because I follow Tomi Adeyemi and she is delightful. But I agree with you, I found the story to be anything other than original and it was actually rather the same as all YA stories. I think the hype was due to the original setting because it’s rare for anything magical to be set in Nigeria and the representation so it’s a shame from my perspective that it didn’t live up to the hype because I wanted it to do well.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I agree that I think much of the hype is built around the setting. So I found it interesting that there are a few reviews on Goodreads from readers in Nigeria. They criticized the geography, the use of language, the understanding of mythology, the clothes, and the hair and essentially said that they believe the book is an Americanized understanding of diversity and doesn’t accurately represent their country or their culture. The book does read like any other YA book on the market, so I can easily believe it’s been “Americanized.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gerry@TheBookNookUK says:

        I think it has to be ‘Americanized’ because I don’t think it would have sold in all honesty. Publishers want diversity but not *too much* or the diversity has to be done in a way that will appeal to people outside of the represented culture.

        I think Tomi Adeyemi is lovely and I wanted this to do well but the cynic in me thinks it was very hyped and that it got a publishing deal *because* of the push for diversity and unique settings. But that’s the cynic in me. Loads of people loved it so I guess I’m the outlier!

        Like

        • Krysta says:

          I definitely agree! I guess it’s kind of what happened with Mulan. American audiences consider it a classic! I’ve read that it was not received as enthusiastically in China.

          However, I think it would be awesome if we could push for more diversity. As you say, sometimes it seems like people are afraid it won’t sell, so they try to make it seem… more familiar? Less diverse? But I think we’re missing out on a real opportunity to learn more and to build bridges. People do tend to fear or dislike things they don’t understand, so I think we should promote that understanding in more than a superficial way.

          I’m sure she is lovely! And I think we can all agree as book lovers that we always want authors (and their books) to do well! Fortunately for her, I seem to be a (fellow) outlier here and I think she is doing very well even if I personally won’t read the sequel. 🙂 She doesn’t really need me, you know? Her sales are probably fabulous.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Gerry@TheBookNookUK says:

            I didn’t know that about Mulan, that’s very interesting! I’d love to know what other pieces of fiction haven’t been well received in the ‘home’ country, so to speak.

            I think there’s still a long way to go with diversity and representation in fiction and sometimes no rep is better than bad rep (in my opinion) because I have read some stuff that is borderline offensive (if not outright so) and is more damaging.

            I know, I wish authors the best if they’re lovely but at the same time I won’t pander if I dont like something! I believe in honest reviews and I’m glad you do too as I was thinking I’m the only person who thought that this way about this book!

            Like

            • Krysta says:

              Yeah like when they add sexualized women to films. Just…no. Please don’t. This is helpful to no one.

              I am getting the sense from the comments that many feel similarly. However, negatively reviewing a hyped book can get ugly so I understand why people just don’t bother reviewing at all.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Gerry@TheBookNookUK says:

              For the life of me I can’t remember what I was watching the other day (I think an X-Men movie) and something had occurred that made me think about how bizarrely sexualised a female character had become while the men were *incredibly* masculine but not sexualised. But then I’m not surprised I can’t remember specifics because its pretty common!

              I’ve had a read of some of the other comments and they are also very interesting to read. I think a lot of the time people don’t want to say that they didn’t relate to something or didn’t like something *especially* if there’s sensitivity about it and it means so much to people because of the risk of offending.

              If someone says something offensive than it’s an issue but I like honesty and your review was critical of the book but not the audience that liked it. A lot of people may only feel comfortable saying they didn’t like something when someone else goes first.

              But I guess the whole honest review/ giving a bad review is a different topic and seems to be a hot one at the moment from what I have read on several blogs. I guess we all have our opinion on it but I will take honest all the time 😉

              Like

            • Krysta says:

              It could be X-Men! I know one of those films opens with the female agent stripping to her underwear. She doesn’t have to. They just wrote a plot to pretend she had to.

              Yeah, I know some people don’t give negative reviews because they just want to talk about books they love or spread positivity. But negative reviews aren’t wrong. People are allowed to critique books and say what didn’t work and why. And reviews aren’t typically directed at the author. Even if authors do read reviews, though, authors know that negative reviews are not personal attacks (or shouldn’t be). Everyone who writes (or does anything, really) has received criticism at some point or another. That’s how we improve. If everyone just offered flattery, it would be difficult for anyone to make changes to do better.

              Liked by 1 person

  10. wonderfilledreads says:

    I think this is probably the first negative review I’ve seen about this book, but I’m so glad we are finally getting a different opinion on it! All of the flaws you pointed out were perfectly explained and I really appreciate that. I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while now, but just haven’t felt myself being super interested in picking it up. I think your review has probably reinforced my hesitation on it. Great review!!!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I haven’t seen any negative reviews on book blogs, only on Goodreads. And I admit I almost didn’t write this review because I expected backlash for it. Fortunately, our readers are all so nice and eager to dialogue!

      I admit I wish I could see why everyone is in love with this book. I’d rather have a positive experience with a story!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. bykianadanielle says:

    I’ve been feeling the same way about the characters and premise of this book! I’ve been trying to push through, but in all honesty, it’s just not that interesting or a fun enough ride for me to say it lives up to the hype. Your review is aligns perfectly with my reading experience. It sucks because I really wanted to enjoy it because of how seemly different it was supposed to be. I’m not DNF-ing it but I’m sure going to take my time finishing it.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You’re the first person I’ve come across that openly admits to both disliking and deciding to not finish.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Length may have played a role in my DNF. I push through many books, but they are usually not this long. I think I gave up when I had read the equivalent page length of the average book. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  12. SoulfullyAlex says:

    Thanks for this review. I am someone who started reading this and then could just not get into it. I think I was about 50 or 60 pages in and I was just not feeling it. I love fantasy and all the hype and the idea of an African based fantasy was so exciting. But I just could not get into it! I was confused and felt is was lacking something. I can’t give a huge review because I didn’t read much of it, but I just had to put it down. It wasn’t for me.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, I tried to push through hoping it would get better, but…it didn’t. I’m really glad I decided to stop halfway through because it allowed me time to read books I loved.

      Like

  13. saraletourneau says:

    Wow. Excellent job with your review, Krysta. I have to admit, I was really curious about what you’d have to say when I saw the “DNF Review” headline. I’ve been hesitant to read Children of Blood and Bone after reading other reviews that also weren’t keen on the romance or the pacing. (The book is 500+ pages, right?) I might still read it, but if I do it will definitely be a library rental.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      This might actually be the first DNF review I’ve written. I don’t DNF in general. I just…keep going. I have to admit I’m really proud of myself for letting go for once.

      And, yeah, it’s definitely lengthy. A problem for another post. Sometimes I wish Harry Potter had encouraged everyone to let page limits fly to wind. There is something to be said for a tightly-written story.

      It is comforting to know I am not the only one who liked this book, though glowing reviews abound. I saw a Entertainment Weekly headline calling Adeyemi “the new J. K. Rowling.” I was confused. I haven’t read it, though, so I don’t know if it’s saying she’s popular or writes fantasy or what the comparison is supposed to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. MetalPhantasmReads says:

    Awesome review Krysta! I have officially decided to give up on this book for a lot of the reasons you’ve described. I found it annoying that Zele yelled all the time and with Amari’s repetitive chapters. I also didn’t think the writing was great either :/

    Like

  15. Zezee says:

    Oh man! Yours is the first and only negative review I’ve seen of it. I still plan to read it, but I appreciate getting a different opinion on it other than the usual raving.
    The author did mention the Avatar Airbender influence in an interview I saw, so I assumed it slightly influenced the story. I didn’t know it was so overt.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      To be honest, I expected people to attack me for it and almost didn’t write it. I didn’t know she directly mentioned A:TLA, but it’s so obvious I guess it’s better just to acknowledge it.

      Like

      • Zezee says:

        Well I’m glad you weren’t attacked for it.
        I think it’s good to get different opinions on a thing to gain greater understanding of it, so an unpopular opinion can be very helpful.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Vanessa says:

    Just a couple things here:
    Harry Potter was pretty derivative of LOTR and pretty problematic, but still a beloved children’s classic. I’m just saying that things that are imperfect can still be loved. Basically, it makes sense that you DNFed because you realize it’s not for you. That’s okay 🙂

    The target audience is for 14-18 y/o Black children who have never seen themselves in Harry Potter and LOTR. It does seem derivative and I understand that. But I imagine future generations of black little boys and girls reading this and it resonating with them. Instead of seeing the TV shows where they are portrayed as only being criminals, they will read this book and think, “I can be better!”

    I have to mention that in the Acknowledgements, the author refers to Black Lives Matter. See touches on the deaths of the characters and why she did it that way. POC lose their lives at an alarming rate to police violence every year. In the novel, it may seem random, but dozens of people die in pointless deaths due to gun or police violence in the US. The author was trying to shock the readers into that reality. Have you noticed that sometimes we as readers sometimes care more about fictional deaths than real life ones? I am NOT saying you do that, but I noticed that we sometimes forget that such mass deaths happen here in the US. People have walked into clubs, churches, and schools and shot multiple people at the same time for no reason. I guess that’s why as a POC I understood why the author did that.

    Please know I’m not trying to attack you or make you change your mind. I just hoped to add my two cents since I didn’t notice many other POC in the replies. I remember an interview in which the author implied by writing a story about a black boy or girl saving the world, a police officer will stop and think about whether he needs to pull his gun out because a black boy isn’t just a “thug” but a person like in the stories. Again, I’m just very passionate about the BLM movement and wanted to share my POV and I 100% respect your choice. There are a lot of books that aren’t for me that I DNFed because it seemed cliche/tropey/unrelateable so I feel you! I feel like almost every YA book ever recycles through the same 12 tropes. There are at least 50 YA fantasy books out this year that fall into the same tropes, but for some reason people don’t have as high standards, I feel like? I’m sorry this didn’t blow you away though! The author was influenced by Harry Potter and An Ember in the Ashes and I noticed some similarities myself.

    Thank you for being bold and I respect your honesty. I see all your points and I understand. I kind of wrote a long, rambling thing. I hope you don’t mind 🙂

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I understand all of this and I acknowledged in my posts that other books have used non-original elements and still managed to feel original. My argument here is that the book fails because it has no cohesive worldbuilding. The elements are not convincingly combined into a secondary world that has internal logic. Rather, they come across as an assortment of influences simply strung together.

      I also understand that people like this book because it features diverse characters. I am not criticizing the book for being diverse. I am criticizing it for being poorly structured. This can be true regardless of who the characters are or the social, moral, or political beliefs that motivated the book. I can both recognize that diversity in publishing is necessary and still demand that GOOD diverse books be published. In fact, I would argue that this is a necessity. No one wants a book published for them that is not well written.

      I also understand the influence of BLM on the book. I think the genocide and oppression of magic people is pretty obvious as a parallel. Again, however, I think the parallel was not well done. Having mass murders all over the place so Inan can fake cry about it isn’t exactly a moving political message for me. It makes it seem like my biggest concern should not be about the people who are being killed, but about whether this teenage boy will ever fathom that mass murder is wrong. Meanwhile, Zelie is all about retaliatory violence, as if being oppressed means she is vindicated in killing as many people as she wants because anger justifies mass murder? It’s not a great message either way.

      I’ve read and enjoyed other diverse works. My review was in no way an attack on diversity. My review is solely about the structure of the book.

      Also, I complain about tropey romances, bad writing, illogical secondary worlds, and too much violence in YA all the time. I’m simply applying the same standards of criticism to this book.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Vanessa says:

        I was liking and agreeing with everything you said until this part:

        “I can both recognize that diversity in publishing is necessary and still demand that GOOD diverse books be published. In fact, I would argue that this is a necessity. No one wants a book published for them that is not well written.”

        You said POC deserve a well-written book, but as a black person, I can say that the black community have enjoyed it… so I’m not sure what you mean that we deserve better than this if we ourselves think it’s great? By our standards it’s excellent, but by your standards you expect more? I’m a little confused.

        I don’t know what matters more—the readers represented or personal expectations? I just want to understand. The reason why I commented was to let you know plenty of POC have deemed this a good book… but to be fair, you DNFed so how can you apply the same judgement or standards on it if it could have gotten better by the end of the book? It seems a little contradictory. I only came here to give you a broader perspective outside your own because if you think POC deserve better books than wouldn’t non-POC consider our opinions on this book as well? I’m just curious.
        Great discussion!

        Like

        • Vanessa says:

          Hello, I realize I’m talking to you as if you read the entire book. I have been following your blog for quite some time now and I have seen books just as tropey get the benefit of the doubt before being DNFed so I guess I was baffled that you gave up on it.

          For instance, Mirage is also a debut and has rocky world-building and had a similar structure to COBAB to me. The romance in Mirage was predictable, the pacing much to fast to develop the story, and the sci-fi back drop made no sense but the book was given 4 star rating on this blog. I guess seeing that review and than this one confused me?

          But please know that *we* Black POC think it’s a good diverse book and we think it’s well-written. We have standards to judge books by, too and we care about the quality just as much (sometimes we are even more critical because it matters so much to have good rep). It just makes me sad that people think POC can’t decide for ourselves between a good book and bad one… I apologize for my rambling. I thought it would help to have a diverse perspective, but I realize it wasn’t asked for and I went to the wrong place. I’m sorry. 😦

          Like

          • Krysta says:

            I am confused that you think my review means I think POC cannot, did not, or should not enjoy the book. Of course they can! Anyone can. My review is just my opinion and I provided evidence for how I came to it. That does not mean other people can’t buy or read or like the book. Plenty people have and will. Frankly, I am one person and the book is doing very well without my liking it! And that is great!

            Also, I can support the message of a book and still think it is not well written.

            I also do try to give every book a fair chance and that is why I almost never DNF. I explained why I DNFed in the review. I think that is fair. No reader is obligated to finish a book they did not like. But, again, it is perfectly fine for other people to like it!

            Like

          • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

            I appreciate your perspective that you liked the book and think it has good representation.

            However, I’m a bit confused because you seem to be suggesting that Krysta wasn’t allowed to not enjoy Children of Blood and Bone. She reviews and supports a lot of diverse books; she just personally didn’t like this one, which I think is fine. Obviously many people do enjoy it, and it’s still on the NYT Bestseller charts, so that’s definitely something other people can keep in mind as they decide whether or not to read it. Krysta’s just giving her personal reaction, and both of us have noted when we’ve been disappointed with fantasy world building in a variety of other books on the blog, so that’s not something she’s just pulling out for Children of Blood and Bone. She certainly isn’t suggesting that “POC can’t decide for themselves” whether the book is good or not, but I do sincerely apologize if you read our blog as telling you what you are or are not allowed to like.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

            And I want to add that we definitely appreciate your perspective and we welcome your comment. It’s obviously very helpful for our readers to know that other people liked the book and why they like it, so please don’t feel as if you’re not welcome to post a comment that disagrees with our reviews!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

            “But please know that *we* Black POC think it’s a good diverse book and we think it’s well-written.”

            Can I just throw my hat in the ring and say that, no, we black POC don’t? You do, and that’s great. If your friends, family, acquaintances, people you’ve talked to do, that’s also great. But black POC are not a group in entirety, and this shouldn’t be used as an argument against Krysta choosing to DNF and not liking the book and thinking it’s poorly written.

            I, too, think it’s poorly written, as do plenty of POC I know. But not *all* POC think it is, and I totally respect that. Because, you know, we’re individuals and individuals have an opinion.

            For me, the “diversity” in COBAB is problematic, the colorism made no sense, and I was actually disappointed with the Yoruban/Nigerian influence. It didn’t feel that grounded to me, and I guess I was expecting more of a Nigerian/Yoruban feel than I got. Speaking to a few Nigerians that I know, they felt the same way, that it didn’t truly represent their culture. Again, that is not *all* people. Just like with everything else, the opinions go both ways.

            Also, 28-year-old me identifies with nobody in this book, despite probably being the same skin color as … someone. I don’t even know. 14-year-old me would have thrown this book by midway through, because my personality is the polar opposite of Zelie. I found her impulsive, brash, highly illogical, selfish, and unbearable. 14-year-old me was also a lot less patient and more likely to stop reading books that annoyed me and more quick to judge.

            I also was kind of rooting against the Maji and against the king and, really, against everybody, so the message 100% fell flat for me. Both sides were pretty garbage. Which I can respect in books, and I love dark fantasy with gray characters where nobody is good or bad. But when it’s trying to make a message about BLM and I can totally see why the king could be justified in slaughtering Maji and wanting magic gone forever … welp, that puts me in a really awkward position, doesn’t it? xD

            TL;DR: Black POC are not an all-or-nothing group, so please don’t speak for all of us. I’m sincerely glad you liked this book, and I hope it does inspire black youth and give people what they hope to get out of it. I truly do. But it’s also okay if it doesn’t, because that’s the beauty of books and being able to form your own opinion.

            Liked by 1 person

            • thewolfandbooks says:

              Sammie – I’m sorry. I meant to say, “try to listen to the voices it represents” (bad or good) and I did not mean to categorize all black people into liking the same things. In fact, I wholly agree with you and get annoyed when people think we all share the same opinions. I was responding in the heat of the moment. That being said, I’ve had time to reflect on my thoughts and I agree. The book is really bad and copies Harry Potter. It’s problematic in some ways as well. I’ve removed it from my favorites since everyone finally convinced me they were right and I was wrong. I no longer care about the series anymore. I just feel discouraged from it now.

              I respect you opinion and can get behind your perspective more so. I still don’t think the OG review or reasoning behind it made sense to me is all. I was criticizing her *reason* for not liking it—not the fact that it had a bad rating. I could name 5 books written by POC that I thought were awkwardly written and clumsy and didn’t like. *Your* reasoning makes tons more sense. Anyway, I’m no longer reading the comments. I just came here to apologize for misspeaking on the comment you mentioned.

              Liked by 1 person

            • thewolfandbooks says:

              (That being said, I already told them I was in the wrong and changed course and said she didn’t ask for my opinion. It wasn’t fair to just shove *my* unsolicited opinion down her throat just because of what I felt in the moment. To clarify, the OG post had strong opinions and they can DNF whatever they want of any reason. And I already felt bad for making big deal about bringing an unwarranted opinion and I screwed up, I know. I had more time to reflect and I’m trying to keep for myself for now)

              Like

  17. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Oh it’s so sad that this was such a disappointment, cos I plan to read this :/ It does sound a bit cobbled together though 😦 And after what you’ve said about it not having anything to balance out the darkness, I’m genuinely nervous to pick it up now. But I have a copy on my kindle *sighs*

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Well, the world seems to love it. I don’t think it’s well written, but I think the majority of YA is not well written. And that doesn’t stop any of it from selling.

      Like

  18. Kelly Brigid says:

    This is such a nice honest review! I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s quite refreshing to see an uncommon opinion about this novel. From what you’ve described of the needlessly dark plot and predictable romance, I’m debating picking this one up now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! ❤

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Well, I seem to be in the minority when I read all the glowing reviews! 😅 But the book will always be there. You could even wait for the sequel so you can dive right in it you do read it and love it? I don’t know. I’m just throwing it out there because I feel overwhelmed by all the series I read and the way I can’t remember what happened in half of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. J. M. Tuckerman says:

    I agree in part with you, particularly on the setting. While I felt completely immersed in some area (where you obviously did not), I felt like I was missing pages between places and got lost easily. Particularly with: we made it to the other side of the continent in just a few days and messed something up and now everyone has magic.

    Like

  20. alwaysbooking says:

    I thought this was a very well written out review! I have not seen many people DNF or have a negative review of this book. It was interesting to see your thoughts on what you didn’t like about the book. Very well thought out, thank you for stating your opinion..

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I think it is always controversial to review a hyped book negatively. I know I almost chose not to review.this because I feared the response. I haven’t seen any bloggers review it poorly, either! But, if course, that is great for the book!

      Liked by 1 person

      • alwaysbooking says:

        Sometimes I’m afraid to give negative reviews too! Then I just toss caution to the wind and say do it!! As long as we aren’t bashing the author, and only critiquing the book it’s never a bad thing. People just need to remember its OUR opinion… not much more we can do. I think its good to have different opinions without them we would be awfully boring. 😀

        Like

  21. ofmariaantonia says:

    I wish publishing was more about quality-writing. I feel that I am increasingly DNFing books due to the fact that they are written poorly. How DO these things get published? I have seen so many people like this book that I was planning to read it at some point. I thank you for identifying some serious red flags.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      My theory is that the YA market at least favors plot above all else. The prose can be bad, the characterization bad, the premise illogical, the worldbuilding illogical–but if there is enough action and enough steamy love scenes, it will be published. Sadly, I find this makes most YA books seem disposable to me. Once you know what happens, there seems to be little left to warrant a reread. However, I often seem to be one lone reviewer talking about illogical premises and contradictory worldbuilding. It all sells and often very well. So publishers have little incentive it seems to look for something else.

      So in this case I would say the premise got the book published. A book set in a fantasy Nigeria where the characters travel through a variety of different settings and a murderous prince falls in love with a rebel commoner is supremely marketable. And indeed most people seem to be giving it rave reviews. Which is great. I wish the author and her publishers all success!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Michael J. Miller says:

    Your note on the darkness, particularly seeing whole villages massacred again and again, made me think of a conversation I had with my friend Jeff in regard to ‘The Force Awakens.’ It was a lamentation of how often genocide is used as a casual plot device. While we were discussing it in the context of Star Wars, I think it’s true in the larger world of fiction in general. To use genocide as nothing more than a plot mover is disheartening at best and distressing at worst. I think it serves to disconnect the reader from the very real tragedy of genocide in our world, making it even easier to ignore. While I haven’t read this novel (nor am I planning to now), I am familiar with the feeling of being trapped in the oppressive darkness of a narrative and I’m with you. I can handle the dark, but I need to see the light shining through somewhere – that’s part of what makes fiction inspirational, nourishing, and a powerful restorer of hope for real life.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Well, the interesting thing is that Adeyemi has (so I’ve read from people quoting her) repeatedly said in interviews that the book is meant to parallel Black Lives Matter. At any rate, it’s pretty clear that she means the magic people to represent oppressed Black people. In years past, the non-magic king, sought out and killed as many magic people as possible before figuring out how to take away magic from everyone. Now, the people who would have been magic are easily marked out by their white hair. They are treated terribly, called “maggots,” liable to be assaulted/raped in front of crowds while others stand and watch, etc.

      So the basic plot is that these magic people are actually superior to non-magic people. They were blessed by the gods and that’s why they possess special powers. But then something went wrong. It’s unclear to them why magic left. Some think it’s because the magic wielders misused magic by conquering other nations, using it tot kill non-magic people. And so the gods took magic away. But no one magic seems to know for sure. But, regardless of how magic left, now they are going to reclaim it–and the non-magic oppressors are going to pay once they do.

      So, the country now seems to be headed towards ethnic warfare. Zelie has gained magic herself by touching a magic scroll. She’s now a Reaper, which means she can control the dead. Around the part I stopped reading, she uses this to call upon anguished souls who were mistreated in life/died terribly and are now apparently stuck in a hellish afterlife. She builds a army of the dead and, the last time I saw her, was using them to wipe out an arena full of people. So, basically, Zelie took on the traditional role of a villain. Heroes of stories don’t typically build armies of the dead to kill people en masse–the villains do. But readers are supposed to applaud this because she and her people are oppressed and her enemies have it coming.

      So, I think genocide was intended to be part of a thoughtful social critique here. However, I think that may apply mostly to the historical genocide of the magic people. By the time the story actually takes place, Prince Inan is burning down villages and killing every person he meets just so he can have an inner monologue about how conflicted he is about mass murder. And Zelie is actively supporting killing all her enemies in equally violent ways–and readers are supposed to see this an empowering. I worry, however, that we’re seeing the start of a bloodbath as the country plunges into a neverending war.

      I don’t believe any great social change has been effected by retaliatory violence. So I’m not quite sure where this is headed. Especially since the outline of the plot is almost exactly that of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is a show about transforming the world through non-violence (so, exactly the opposite of this message).

      But, as regards the darkness, the least we could have had is a moment of peace for the characters, a place where they could rest and recharge and tell stories. But it’s just a series of them stopping places, then Inan coming behind them and murdering every person who talked to them. Which does, in fact, take away from the power of the violence as the focus becomes, not the victims, but Inan, who is apparently sad he has to kill people, but who keeps doing it anyway.

      Like

  23. Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

    *cries happy tears* I’m not the only one who had problems with this book! I felt like such a huge minority among all the people I know. xD

    I actually LOVE the hate-to-love trope, but it has to be done right and I have to buy into the romance. Which means an insta-love mixed with hate-to-love is going to be a big nope for me.

    The ties to ATLA were the biggest thing that ruined it for me, because I had such a hard time separating the two because it read SO MUCH like ATLA fanfiction. Except without the depth to the characters and the inside jokes. I was sort of disappointed when no one cried, “MY CABBAGES!” That’s how strong the similarities were and how much I kept thinking of ATLA.

    I picked up this book because I love the stories of the Yoruba (or what few I’ve read), and I thought I was getting something that would feel uniquely NIgerian and which would be replete with lore and mythology and fantastic worlds (think A Star-Touched Queen, but with Yoruban beliefs instead of Hindu myths), but I felt like there was a big disconnect there in terms of what I expected and what it delivered. You could almost lift the book into a European setting and it’d fit just fine, except for the occasional Yoruban word/chant mixed in there.

    I also couldn’t stand Zelie, which is problematic, as she’s the main character.

    And the BLM thing was a big miss for me. I know what message she was trying to go for, but you know what? The Magi are freaking scary, okay? They’re not innocents. I’m not really sure I was even rooting for them. I 100% understood the King’s fears and Inan’s fears and why they would feel the need to massacre them. So … in terms of the message she was going for, I guess I took away something totally different, and the idea of relating this to black people as a whole is disturbing to me because I took away the exact opposite of her message and … yeah. Neither side is “right” in this book. They’re both freaking messed up.

    Great review!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, I could see myself potentially buying into a hate-to-love romance, but not this one. Zelie hates Amari just for being the princess. How will she immediately fall in love with Inan when he’s the prince AND attacked her home? It’s really out of character and needs to be worked up to and explained. Like maybe in book three. A LOT needs to happen between the village attack and Zelie’s forgiveness.

      And I find it truly strange how closely this book parallels A:TLA, down to Zelie’s mother being killed just like Katara’s. If Inan ends up with an uncle who drinks tea and Zelie finds an air bison in the sequel, I wouldn’t be surprised. There’s inspiration and there’s allusion and then there’s…just taking the basic plot of something else.

      I also thought this book didn’t deliver on its promise of being set in a fantasy-Nigeria. It did feel like the plot and characters of any pseudo-medieval European fantasy. And, I hate to say it, but I felt like it was that with some foreign words thrown in to make it seem exotic or something. I wanted to see a world that felt really based in its own culture, with that culture affecting how the characters act and think. But…they felt like contemporary American teens walking through any old YA book.

      Also, I am REALLY confused that no one seems to be mentioning/concerned about the fact that Zelie raised an army of anguished souls who died terrible deaths. Isn’t that normally what villains in stories do? Not heroes? Like you, I totally get why non-magic people want magic to be gone forever. Look how all the characters are using it! Zelie has an army of the dead she’s using to kill people en masse, Inan is using his powers to track people down to kill them, and the man at the temple (sorry, forgot his name) used his to attack innocent animals rather than deal with their human riders. If the Maji are supposed to represent Black people and readers are supposed to see their suffering and thus empathize with them as fellow humans…how does depicting them as scary murderers and leaders of armies of the dead achieve that goal? This actually seems like a potentially very harmful message.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

        I sort of hated how Zelie treated Amari. The first time when they originally found out who she was is fair game. But after that, with Tzain constantly telling her to stop? Amari is not her father and hasn’t yet actually done anything at all to wrong you. Not helping your cause any.

        I actually didn’t realize at first that there was any inspiration taken from ATLA, so I spotted that just naturally. At first I was like, ha, you know, this kinda sounds like Katara and Sokka! And then as I got going I was like … oh, and there’s Prince Zuko. And I suppose Amari was … Toph? I wasn’t as sure with her, but I recognized the others, and then by the time they got to the temple, I was like … wait, haven’t I seen this before? So I skipped to the back to the author’s note and did read that it was inspired by ATLA, so yeah. I think people who don’t know ATLA enjoyed it a little bit more, because if you’ve seen and loved ATLA, this not only falls short on characters and plot, but then you already know what’s about to happen, basically.

        Have you read any Yoruba legends?! The Yoruba pantheon of gods is DARK, man. Like Norse mythology dark. So I was expecting sort of more of that, since they were pushing the influence. That pantheon is fierce, and they don’t play, man. I’m still waiting for someone to write a book with the Yoruba pantheon actually acting as gods in their full glory, please and thank you. I don’t know *that* much about them, but I do love the possibilities there.

        I’M SO GLAD THAT’S NOT JUST ME. I was downright confused. I actually try *not* to read an author’s thoughts on their own work before or during reading a book, because I like to form my own conclusions based on the work. So I actually loved the struggle between the Maji and the non-magic people because I thought, okay, we’ve got two very obvious gray sides, neither is right, neither knows why they’re fighting anymore at this point, but they can’t see past their blindness. They’re both flawed, I don’t know who to root for, THIS IS GREAT! And then I read the author’s note and was like … oh. Weeeeell, maybe not as great? But nobody else really seems to point this out or have a problem with it? But all the scenes you pointed out, plus that ONE NIGHT they stormed the frigging castle and decimated everyone, burned people, plagued people to death, created chaos and destruction. And that was just a few Maji. So, um, yeah.

        I feel list I should say, since I’ve really ragged on this story, that Tomi Adeyemi is fabulous, as far as I can tell (I mean, I don’t really know her), and she’s a delight to follow. And there were things that I did legitimately like about it, and obviously there are soooo many other people who really enjoyed it, and that’s fantastic. I just felt like that had to be said, lest someone take this out of context. xD

        Like

        • Krysta says:

          Yes! Amari seemed genuinely to want to change. But it’s easier to do that if people support you. People who are constantly treated like they are worthless sometimes give up and end up fulfilling the prophecy, so to speak. I really wanted to see Zelie be the bigger person and support Amari in becoming the the type of person she wanted to be.

          Yeah, I never got to the author’s note, so I was actually surprised Adeyemi acknowledged the influence of A:TLA. Honestly, though, some air bison and cabbage jokes might have made this book more enjoyable for me. XD

          There are so many books being published right now about oppressed peoples that I just assumed the story was inspired by the current political climate. I saw her interview later where she said she was specifically trying to address BLM and saying the book is based on the past “30 years.”

          I think most people would support not oppressing people and working towards equality. But, again, the Maji are terrifying! The book gave me the impression that the king did the only thing he could to protect the Maji from taking over everywhere by by burning people to a crisp and so forth. That doesn’t seem like an apt parallel to the U.S., to me.

          I’m sure she is fabulous! I think it’s completely possible to separate a book from the author. I believe the book needs major revisions–that doesn’t mean I think terribly of the author! And I think everyone’s written something that’s needed revisions! It’s just something that happens when we write.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

            I mean, that cabbages joke, though. xD Priceless.

            I actually didn’t watch interviews with her before I read the book. Probably because I don’t really watch TV and live in my own weird little space on the internet. So I had no idea! I’m just a naive little bookdragon! Ha. Surprise. xD

            Oooh, you know, if you DNF’d, I’m not sure, but did you get to the part where it mentions that Maji assassinated the King’s family? I was sort of waiting for more of a story behind that, and there never really was one, no elaboration, etc. The king had previously supported a treaty with the Maji, until his family was slaughtered. I was waiting for his motive while reading it, and after that I was like … yeah, nope, this feels like fair game. I’m sure there will be more behind it that maybe comes up later (I hope?) but yeah.

            I think so and you think so, but not everyone does, so I always like to make it known! An author is not their work! Their work is not an author! But gosh, no, I don’t want to think about revisions because I start the next draft of my mid-grade book tomorrow and I don’t want to and ugh. Where’s a fire Maji when you need ’em? =/

            Like

            • Krysta says:

              I think I did read about the Maji slaughtering the royal family, though I was never quite clear on why they did it. In fact, most of the characters seem a little unclear on the history of the war, even though I thought it was only a few years previous, since Zelie saw her mother die…

              Sometimes book blogging confuses me because how bloggers discuss books isn’t how people discuss books in academia. I’ve never been to a class where someone says, “Well, you know I love X living author and I’m sure he’s a great guy and a wonderful person. However, I thought the depiction of women in his book left something to be desired.” You just go in and talk about the book and everyone knows that no one means X author any ill will. But it’s very different in book blogging, where people seem to conflate text and author more? And so we are sort of expected to make these disclaimers. It’s just not what I’m used to, though, and I have to remind myself a lot that it’s a different discourse community with different expectations.

              Haha! Good luck with revisions!

              Liked by 1 person

            • Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

              Yeah, I never really understood the full timeline, because Amari and Inan are his second family, but Zelie was old enough to remember the war and I assume they were all pretty much the same age, so … I think I might have missed something somewhere? It never gave a motive for it, and I’m assuming that book two will maybe show that it was a setup by those who wanted to start the war? I’m not sure. That’s just my guess on what’ll happen lol.

              I hear you. xD It’s nothing I ever did in college, too, but when I first started reading blogs and stuff, I’d heard so many things about authors and fans attacking book bloggers that it just seems easier to be safe rather than sorry. It doesn’t seem to happen in art, either. Like you have an intellectual conversation about a piece of art, and no one gives any thoughts to the artist or thinks that you’re talking bad about them.

              Like

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