I’ve spent the majority of today thinking it was Wednesday, so this post is going up a little later than I’d hoped. Time isn’t real anymore, am I right? I mean, we are still in the middle of a global pandemic, so it’s justified. Which reminds me, here’s your periodic reminder to wear your mask and social distance when going out! Here in Rhode Island, where I currently live, our numbers are doing great. Places like Florida and Texas, where a few cousins and aunts live, are not doing so hot. While my pandemic anxiety for myself has decreased quite a bit over the last few weeks, it has skyrocketed for them. So please, be smart, stay home when you can, and wear a mask when you have to leave!
Anyways, on to today’s subject. Today I’ll be reviewing CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi. This book came out in March 2018, and its sequel CHILDREN OF VIRTUE AND VENGANCE just came out in December 2019. These are books I see at Target all the time and wanted to read, but hadn’t ever picked up. They are long. Like, super long. COBAB is 544 pages and COVAV is 404, according to their Goodreads stats. I have not read COVAV yet, but I did purchase it at Target a few weeks ago and I’m hoping to get to it soon.
I listened to COBAB on audiobook through the Libby app (love this app!) It was about seventeen hours long—by far the longest audiobook I’ve listened to so far—and it was jam-packed. I won’t lie, there were quite a few points that I thought to myself “Okay, this has to be the end, we can be done now right?” The story kept on going, though, but I did really enjoy the story overall.
The short synopsis is that this book follows four teenagers, two of which have magical powers, as they navigate the beginnings of a revolution. That’s what I heard from a few readers online and really, that’s all it took to garner my interest. Teenagers and revolution? Yes please! I am a thousand percent here for young people leading the revolution and I love stories that touch on that. The magic was honestly what made me hesitant to start this book. I don’t dislike magic—in fact, magic plays a role in the book series I’ve been working on for ages—but I’m not a huge fan of it all the time. Small doses. It was so well done in COBAB though.
Here’s the full synopsis from Goodreads:
“Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.”
Zélie is definitely the main character, but we follow the runaway princess Amari and her brother, Inan, as well through their own POV chapters. I love multi-POV, but I do admit I found it somewhat difficult to keep track of characters in the beginning. I blame this on listening to the audiobook, honestly, but about a third of the way in I had a much easier time differentiating between everyone and connecting with characters.
The ending of this story was so incredibly powerful, I had to go back and listen to it twice to fully take it all in. It was chaotic, so much was happening all at once and it really sucked me in. I felt the chaos Zélie and her friends faced. I felt their panic, their anxiety, their anger—it was so powerful. Even now, a couple weeks after finishing I think about it at least once a day.
It affected me so much that I went and bought the sequel almost immediately, and then immersed myself in everyone else’s reviews. I was disappointed to see some of the featured reviews on Goodreads criticizing some key points, the major criticism being about how impulsive the characters were. My issue with that is that all four characters, Zélie, her brother Tzain, Amari and Inan are all teenagers. They are impulsive. Have you ever met a sixteen year old under stress? They make a lot of dumb, impulsive decisions. For me, those moments really made the characters more real and more believable. They acted exactly how I’d imagine teenagers trying to organize a revolution would react to their environment, and this was actually one of my favorite parts of the story.
Another complaint I’ve seen was about the romance between Zélie and Inan. Inan spends a good chunk of the book as the villain; he’s the crown prince of Orïsha and believes his father is right in trying to wipe out the maji, and battles with himself when he realizes he himself is a maji. His hated of Zélie reflects his hatred of himself, but as he develops feelings for her he begins to accept himself. He never really gets a full arc that allows him to fully accept himself and his abilities, but I loved the way that relationship with himself mirrors his relationship with Zélie. I didn’t think it was out of nowhere as some others have, but it also wasn’t my favorite part of the story either.
Overall, the reviews were incredibly positive and I’m glad to see that. This book really deserves all the praise it receives. I gave it 4 stars out of 5 and I’m excited to read the sequel soon!