Children of Blood and Bone is a very formulaic book.
I believe that formulaic diverse stories are important. I may have read books with very similar plots and themes before – like Ruined by Amy Tintera, Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch and in part also Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – but they did not have an all-black cast and weren’t inspired by Nigerian culture (the author is Nigerian-American herself, but I’ve seen mixed reviews regarding this aspect from Nigerian readers).
I think Children of Blood and Bone is the book that portrays this kind of story better. There are so many YA books about oppressed magical people, but none of the ones I had read really went into what it means to be hated for something you can’t control, the near-constant fear and self-hate it brings. This is a very solid novel, and I probably would have liked it a lot more if I had read it a few years ago.
Now? Not so much. Maybe I’ve read too much YA fantasy, but when I see coming every single twist, when I guess how the story will unfold from the first ten pages, beat for beat, and get it right, we have a problem. Especially when the book is longer than 500 pages – reading 500+ pages of something this predictable is boring. And, as usual, I’m sure this book could have been a lot shorter than it was.
This novel is told through three point of views: Zélie’s, Amari’s and Inan’s. Zélie’s was my favorite (it may be an unpopular opinion but I love the chosen one trope, especially in diverse stories), I grew to love Amari, and couldn’t stand Inan. Since a significant part of this book was told through his PoV, I ended up skimming a lot. Inan is the kind of wishy-washy character who changes his mind constantly, is as reliable as next month’s weather forecasts, and has no other character traits aside from “tormented boy with evil father”. The romance was totally unnecessary and Zélie deserved better. And so did Amari, who gets her own almost-romance, of course m/f. (Yes, I did want Zélie and Amari together, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen).
The mythology and the way it was tied to the magic system were my favorite aspects of the book. I wanted to know more about the gods and their roles in this world, and I wanted to know more details about people’s beliefs and the religion itself. The scenes in the temple were my favorite ones. The worldbuilding itself, however, felt really vague to me; it didn’t help that the atmosphere was also lacking.
My rating: ★★¾
Now We Rise Book Tag
This is a tag whose questions are inspired by Children of Blood and Bone‘s world. It was created by Bec’s Books.
Iku Clan, Maji of Life and Death: What’s a trope you’d love to see die, and one you’d love to see live, or flourish more often?
A non-problematic trope I would love to never see again is the sibling plot device: when a character decides to fight the villain/go on a quest/etc. to save or avenge a sibling or an innocent character that was just like a sibling for them. The problem with this trope is that I usually know nothing about that sibling but the fact that the main character cares about them, and I can’t get invested in the storyline.
This trope is everywhere in YA fantasy, and it has been since The Hunger Games came out, but while YA did grow out of its dystopian love triangle phase, it still hasn’t grown out of this. Children of Blood and Bone did something similar to the SPD trope with Amari and Binta, but it’s far from the only one – other examples are Ruined by Amy Tintera, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Angelfall by Susan Ee, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. I don’t like this trope, it always feels cheap to me.
A trope I want to see flourish? The non-traditional love triangle. I won’t be happy until I’m tired of the f/f/f ones and the ones that end up in polyamory. This trope isn’t allowed to die until I’ve seen many of them.
Emi Clan, Maji of Mind, Spirit, Dreams: What do you immediately connect with when it comes to a book?
Atmosphere. I may not love the characters or the plot since the beginning, but the atmosphere always helps right from the start. My two favorite prologues, which are Vassa in the Night‘s and Strange the Dreamer‘s, are atmospheric and a bit terrifying since the beginning. For me, Children of Blood and Bone didn’t have enough of it.
Omi Clan, Maji of Water: If you could push a book on someone, what would you immediately recommend?
I don’t know, I don’t think there’s any book I love that anyone would love.
Ina Clan, Maji of Fire: If your house was on fire and you could only save one book, what would it be?
Afefe Clan, Maji of Air: What’s a book that had you floating on air out of happiness?
My reread of When the Moon Was Ours did that to me. That book is so gorgeous this earth doesn’t deserve it, it makes me so happy that it exists.
Aiye Clan, Maji of Iron and Earth: A book that’s made an impact (on you, or the world)?
On the world, I don’t know, and on me, so many of them! A recent one would be Jade City, I couldn’t get into it but it called to me so much that I dreamed about it. That convinced me to continue reading even though the beginning wasn’t working for me (it made me anxious? It may sound like a good thing, maybe, but I have enough of that with real life). I’m glad I didn’t DNF it, anyway.
Ina Clan, Maji of Darkness and Light: What are your favourite morally grey characters, who do you love that walks between darkness and light?
For me, it will always be Jedao from the Machineries of Empire series, it doesn’t matter which version of Jedao, they’re all morally grey murderous messes.
Iwosan Clan, Maji of Health and Disease: Which book had a plot twist you DID NOT SEE COMING and it made you sick with feels?
Temper by Nicky Drayden definitely wins the award for the number of weird and yet believable plot twists it managed to surprise me with. It was such a ride, I won’t forget this book easily.
Ariran Clan, Maji of Time: Name your most anticipated releases for 2018!
Since 2018 is almost over, I’m changing it to 2019. Apart from the obvious answer, which is the collection Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee, my answer is probably Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan. I’ve been waiting for this book for so long…
Eranko Clan, Maji of Animals: Your favourite underrated or side character?
One of my favorite side characters ever is Angela from The Gallery of Unfinished Girls. I didn’t expect to love her so much when I started the book, but when I finished it I realized that I would have loved to read an entire novella in her PoV.
And since we’re talking about the maji of animals: the lionaire Nailah was probably my favorite side character in the whole book. I love anything that has to do with cats, even if they’re enormous and horned.