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Children of blood and bone by Tomi Adeyemi
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Children of blood and bone (edition 2018)

by Tomi Adeyemi

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5422718,513 (4.15)14
Member:bell7
Title:Children of blood and bone
Authors:Tomi Adeyemi
Info:New York : Henry Holt, [2018]
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:teen, fantasy

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
A somewhat novel type of magic and setting, this story of 4 young people of two families who battle to return or prevent the return of magic to the world while running for their lives is too much one thing after another for me. The action pretty much never lets up, but it isn't written quite fluidly enough to keep this reader up and kept leaving me trying to figure out what happened while it rushed off to a new scene. ( )
  quondame | Jun 18, 2018 |
Ever since the day of the Raid, the diviners have been without magic. Standing out with their dark skin and white hair, they are still called "maggots" and treated as scum in Orisha. But the gods who once created magic wielders - maji - have been silent for years. Zelie, a diviner girl still hurting from her mother's brutal murder, and Amara, the daughter of the very man who destroyed magic, become a reluctant team when a scroll turns up. When a diviner touches it, they awaken their magic. Can Zelie avenge her mother's death and give power to the maji once more? Or will Inan, Amara's brother and one of the king's guard, catch up to them and stop them first?

This fantasy world is richly-created and unique, incorporating Yoruba and touching on themes of oppression that will resonate with current events such as police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. At the same time, the story follows a more or less traditionally episodic quest motif, and Zelie and her friends journey across Orisha to accomplish their goal of reawakening magic. Adeyemi is a first-time novelist who writes with assurance. I found the book a tad long at times (clocking in at over 500 pages) but I enjoyed the world and characters, and look forward to continuing the series. ( )
  bell7 | Jun 13, 2018 |
Tomi Adeyemi’s West African fantasy Children of Blood and Bone is one of the most talked-about YA releases of 2018, scoring the author a seven figure movie deal. Reviews have been gushing, but is it worth all the hype and hopes cast upon it? Well, yes and no.

The fantasy is set in a small island kingdom reminiscent of West Africa. There’s a pantheon of gods who gifted the dark-skinned, white-haired Maji people control over the elements — death and life, health and disease, fire, air, metal, etc. with the stipulation that the powers were to be used for the good of all. But sometime in the past the ruling Maji misused their powers, and so rulership passed on to another people, the copper-skinned Koridan. The Maji continued to serve the general population, but in an uneasy standoff with the ruling house. Twelve years prior to the story’s beginning the Koridan King Saran performed a pogrom on the Maji and their priests and attempted to destroy the sacred artifacts that linked them with their gods. All their magic disappeared, and unless the artifacts are gathered back together and a ceremony performed in, like, two weeks, the magic will be gone for good. It’s a clunky backstory and more than a little graceless, which, to be frank, dulled my appetite for reading further (though I did.)

In the first chapter the heroine of the story, Zélie, is introduced, the daughter of a poor fisherman and a Maji mother known as a Reaper – one with the power of death and the ability to control souls. Initially, Zélie was a cliché – the simmering rebel whose propensity for acting before she thinks (including speaking against injustices) lands her in trouble, though it’s clear the writer wants us to laud her for it, not think of it as a personal flaw like her family does. It’s really a way to move the story along, a McGuffin, if you will. Her family is being taxed to death because King Saran wants to bankrupt and destroy the remaining de-magicked Maji. He’s not doing this arbitrarily because he’s the bad guy; his first family was killed by Maji during an attempt to reconcile the two peoples, and he decides that magic corrupts societies and must be destroyed. It’s a valid point given how the Maji met their downfall, and adds to his shading as a villain. He’s probably the most-rounded character in the book.

When Zélie, whose mother was horrifically killed in Saran’s purge, meets Princess Amari, Saran’s teenage daughter, the plot begins. Amari read like a character added later in the writing process by the author. She’s not really needed for plot to work, but in the second half of the book, she adds depth. Again, she starts out as a cliché – the princess who doesn’t want to be a princess because of the twittering tedium of court life and her expected role to play in it. When Saran kills her favorite Maji handmaiden, Amari impulsively steals one of the artifacts necessary for the Maji ceremony and runs away, a plot turn that, to me at least, seemed shoehorned in and might have been handled better. Eventually she, Zélie, and Zélie’s brother Tzain are drawn into the quest to find the other artifacts, with Amari’s older brother, Crown Prince Inan, pursuing them on the orders of the king.

The story is told in first person present. The POV hops between Zélie, Inan, and Amari, and I do mean hop; most of the chapters are short, giving a choppy, slightly seasick effect. They were labeled by each character’s name, so I wasn’t confused. But they were not very distinctive from each other, either, and they all sounded like mouthpieces for the author. A sense of verisimilitude was missing; I didn’t feel any of these three could exist outside of the book. Admittedly first person present is not my favorite voice to read. I never who the narrator is supposed to be telling the damn story to, for one thing. The technique worked well in Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, because Simon was telling it in stream-of-consciousness, organizing his life as he experiences it into a narrative to try to make sense of it. But in Children, as well as in Red Queen and Wither, which I’ve also read, the author seems to be using it for sweekability: hooking the reader with enough immediacy to thumb past page after virtual page on a Kindle or cell phone app, even if they’re on a bouncing bus or in a noisy classroom. This sweekable voice isn’t structured like an oral narrative that requires introspection. It’s all sharp jolts and action, and past the first three chapters I got very tired of the characters’ constant listing of their anxious tics: hands gripping staffs, teeth grinding, stomachs churning, etc. as if the reader can’t guess how they feel from the dangers of the plot they’re subjected to. It’s a common mistake for new writers, to be fair.

The first half of the book was run of the mill for a YA fantasy, or any fantasy really, only the novelty of the African-based setting making things interesting. Some parts, like the lengthy detour the quartet make to the holy city where the Maji priests once lived, might have been cut. The religion made sense as being Voudoon-based, not one with a hierarchical clergy and stiff rules about this and that, which seems more Western in nature. There’s a part there with a cut rope bridge aiding the characters’ escape, and Prince Inan ordering the bridge rebuilt to pursue them… ignoring the issue of how to get to their other side of the canyon to do that, if there’s no bridge.

But the story did pick up significantly in the middle, when Zélie discovers a hidden camp of diviners in the mountains whose magical powers are accidently activated by the artifacts. Though the encounter is cliché (the old trope where two groups who are really on the same side don’t know it because they can’t/won’t communicate properly) the ensuing tribal festival and the budding romance between the Prince Inan and Zélie make it magical. Then the action really starts when Saran sends his troops in to get the artifacts back and the prince’s loyalties are torn. At that point, the characters really began to learn and grow, and I was keen to discover how they did it. The story is resolved in a blockbuster way after a prison break and scramble to a secret island that only appears at the summer solstice where the magic ceremony must be performed.

So, 4 stars for the end, 2 1/2 for the beginning: I’ll round it out to three. Did I wish it was better? Yes. Will I be reading the next book? Yes ( )
  Cobalt-Jade | May 29, 2018 |
Zelie is a diviner. One who has the capacity to do magic (be a maji) but, magic has been destroyed by the genocidal King Saran. Zelie, her brother, and the king's daughter Amari, learn that perhaps magic can be restored, and the deviners can be made full maji and defend themselves. They are followed on their mission by Iman, the king's son, who seems to be part diviner himself, and may or may not be trying to help them.
This fantasy is an allegory about police brutality and racial profiling in the United States. Excellent in most ways, but the pacing was a little off. Adeyemi seemed to rush through some portions of the story that needed more explanation, while spending too long on portions that didn't need it.
I must confess, I was completely baffled by the last sentence of the book. I thought I understood everything well, up to the last sentence. Then I wondered if maybe I missed something significant. ( )
  fingerpost | May 28, 2018 |
I honestly hate it when people compare new books to popular shows or movies, but in this one instance, I have to point out how much this story reminds me of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It wasn't necessarily the plot, though there are certain similarities, but it was more of the emotion I felt develop throughout the story as the main characters continue on their journey together. It felt refreshing, with each character taking a journey of their own that tied together in a common thread and bound them together. Though Zélie is the main character of this story, it wasn't just her story that the story was telling. It was likewise her comrades' and their enemies' story, which helped to create a more round perspective of the entire conflict rather than simply Zélie's perspective.

At the beginning of this story, our protagonist is a ball of anger. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that Zélie's rage is palpable, bloody, and seemingly unending. As a reader, it occasionally grated on my nerves, as it kept resurfacing at every turn and seemed an all-consuming thought, but its inclusion was absolutely necessary in this story. It not only played a fundamental role in the underlying meaning of this book but it was likewise integral to Zélie's character arc. What is particularly wonderful about this story is that the author understands that a powerful, independent character doesn't necessarily equal a strongly written character, even if those particular characteristics are what audiences want and need. Instead, Zélie is made a powerful and strong character because the author wasn't afraid to highlight her flaws. In fact, its some of those flaws that later play into her greatest strengths. I really appreciated this protagonist, and actually felt as though she was the one who was taking me on a journey, rather than the plot.

Since the book is fantasy, I feel like I should talk about the magic system. Though I still have many questions for book 2, I believe it was well-developed and intriguing. It wouldn't be a stretch for me to personally say that its unlike anything I've ever read before.

On another note, I know very little about the Yoruba religion, so I can't say much of its portrayal in this book. However, it informed me about more than I already knew (though I'll have to look into how accurate it all is and what parts are fictional).

Overall, 4.5 stars! ( )
  spellbindingstories | May 24, 2018 |
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Epigraph
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 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 who took her away.
Dedication
To Mom and Dad
who sacrificed everything to give me this chance
&
To Jackson
who believed in me and this story long before I did
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Pick me.
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