Saturday, April 28, 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

It took me a few weeks, but I finally finished Children of Blood and Bone this morning. I  don't read a lot of YA novels and shame on me for missing some pretty good stuff in the past few years. The buzz around Tomi Adeyemi has been high, and I couldn't ignore it.  I bought a special edition at Barnes & Noble on the day it was released; it has an annotated chapter and a fold out map. It's always fun to read author notes and see what they were thinking as they wrote scenes, so if you have a chance, check it out. 

Adeyemi is a gifted writer, and she doesn't shy away from unpleasant situations. There are torture, death, and oppression in this tale of a people who were once magical, but have been murdered for their gifts out of fear and anger by King Saran, who rules Orisha.  Their children were spared, and without magic, they are the downtrodden; "maggots" taxed beyond their means, and treated like dirt. They are known by their snow white hair, which sets them apart from the rest of the people. 

Out of this, two sets of siblings meet and start on a journey to bring magic back.  Prince Inan and Princess Amari are the children of King Saran.  He's a nasty father, and regularly pits his children against each other in battle training. Zelie and Tzain are brother and sister, living in Ilorin, secretly being schooled in fighting, in the hope that one day the Maji and diviners will have a chance to rise up and regain their magic. When Amari is shattered by a close friend's brutal death, she  steals a scroll from her father that, with a few other tools, can bring magic back to Orisha. Running away from the palace, she runs into Zelie, who is selling fish to raise tax money. When the two meet, the story unfolds, and it's an adventure from that moment on to the final sentence on the last page. 

I don't want to give much away, because you should experience this novel on your own in your own way, without any input from me.  I will tell you that it does break down what looks to be a simple good vs. evil into something that reminds us nothing is ever that simple, and that easy to decide. Family loyalty? Vengeance? If magic comes back, how to keep those who would use it for harm from doing so, and creating another potential war? How do you balance the magic with a peaceful kingdom and those who do not have magic in their blood?  I won't even get started on the horrible parenting that Saran uses on his children. Abused kids for sure, yet Inan fights what he knows he should do with his sense of loyalty towards his father, who has never treated him well. It's a classic abuse issue. Amari is seen as a helpless young lady, but she's the one who grows the most in the novel. It's hard to keep remembering that all four characters, and most of the supporting cast, are teens. Yes, Adeyemi does a masterful job wiping that out of your head. That's why this novel is a great read for teens and adults, and anyone who loves mythology and magic. 

It's an adventure, and the characters grow on you. I will have to read the next novel, and I'm sure it will be just as excellent as the first. It's already been optioned for a movie.  In light of all the race issues we have in the United States right now, the immigration issues, the seeing people (we are all part of the human race!) as less than; well, those are all the bedrock of this tale. It has a lot to say. Definitely a book club selection, and I hope high school English classes read it, too.  

Rating:  6/6 for an incredible tale of rising up, fighting for what's right, even if it means you may lose. This tale of magic, adventure, love, and dreams was fantastic. I think of it, and I see so many colors-you'll find yourself smelling, hearing, and seeing the vibrant world of Zelie, Tzain, Inan, and Amari. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.

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