Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Published by Henry Holt, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: Indiana’s: 3 out of 5 stars Pete’s: 1 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: This one’s going in our “to give away” pile
Pete: This book was one of my most anticipated titles of this year, as I think it was for a lot of people. Its premise is so unlike anything I’ve ever read, and inspired by cultures I know so little about.
Indiana: I was really looking forward to this one too. It came out right after I had finished the 2nd Ember in the Ashes book and was waiting for the 3rd to arrive; it seemed like the perfect thing to read in between.
Pete: The story starts off at a breakneck pace and with vibrant characters—Adeyemi knows how to set a stage and create meaningful scenes. But after the first third or so of the book, the same high-intensity scenes repeat themselves, and I became numb to the character’s exasperated screams.
Indiana: I think it made it tougher to know whether or not certain scenes were supposed to be dire or scary. The emotions of every character were described in what seemed like a continuously high octane way.
Pete: The writing did not work for me, mostly because it was filled with lines I had heard before—and these cliches were aggressively repeated: “I release a breath I didn’t realize I was holding” (this one has become a meme of YA writing at this point) and “My heart beats with enough force to break free of my ribcage” (so, does it literally break free then?). It felt as if Adeyemi were cheerleading our way through the story, telling the reader again and again how much raw emotion there is, using lines everyone’s heard before.
Indiana: There were definitely times where I appreciated how fast-paced it was. I think Adeyemi was able to put together an interesting story and pace it well; getting to the story without wasting too much time. Yet, I get what you’re saying. Not that I’ve never used a cliche before–they’re tough to avoid—but she definitely used them too much. Now, one thing I expected more of was race-related discussion. I know some of the main characters were slaves, but I expected to read more dialogue about it. Is that fair?
Pete: I think that’s fair, and I agree, but I also can’t relate to Adeyemi’s background as a Nigerian American at all. I haven’t shared any experiences I can compare to hers, and my perspective on the current climate is different from hers. I was looking forward to echoes of the movements and issues of today, but I didn’t find much discussion of them. Maybe her intention was simply to represent black characters in heroic, powerful positions.
Indiana: Possibly and I don’t want to imply that it’s in any way Adeyemi’s job as an author to insert those discussions into her book; she can write or not write whatever she feels is right. Maybe my expectations came from hearing about the book so much before actually sitting down to read it. That being said, we definitely could have missed out on some messages. Please let us know in the comments below if we missed anything!