Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1)

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Children of Blood and Bone” is an overhyped young adult fantasy that follows a stereotypical storyline with substandard writing and dialogue but shows the struggles of an oppressed people trying to fight the oppressor.

Zelie is a teenager who is conveniently training for battle in the beginning of the novel when she gets whisked in the ultimate battle for regaining magic for her people. Zelie comes from a line of maji, a group of people who had extraordinary powers that had been suppressed by the kingdom. Her mother and many other maji had been killed in the Raid years earlier. But when Amari, the crowned princess witnesses the death of her maji servant, she flees the castle with the one thing that could bring it back: a scroll. In her pursuit, she runs into Zelie, who has the maji marking of long white hair, to help her bring back magic for peace. They embark on a long journey with Zelie’s brother, Tzain, while Amari’s brother, Inan, follows their moves with his army to make sure magic never comes back.

First of all, the story doesn’t come off as unique and one of the reasons why is the turning point of the masked princess escaping her castle walls — which she never had done before — to save magic. That’s been in too many stories and films. The characters are undeveloped with Amari, for example, avenging her servant Binta’s death as her only reason to go on the journey. The death is the only memory that comes up, along with Zelie’s memory of her mother’s death. The repetitiveness of these same memories impeded character complexity since it seemed like they didn’t really have any others. Zelie, Amari, and Inan get chapters while Tzain never does because he’s reduced to the supportive brother though he’s on the same journey.

The most interesting character is Inan because he’s conflicted with pleasing his father, the king who lost his previous family to a war with maji, and his realization that he himself is evolving into a maji. He goes back and forth while Zelie and Amari remain boring, especially Zelie who relatively stays the same throughout the story with finding confidence that she’ll save her people then losing that confidence and going back and forth with this. On the other hand, Amari starts weak then becomes stronger, but at the end her strength progress comes too quickly that it doesn’t seem authentic.

With the hype around this book, I wanted to love it. But honestly it was the first book in a long time where I kept falling asleep from boredom at all the battles that just become a blur. The writing is offensively simple with more focus on the story that’s too fast-paced with the characters and settings never really receiving the proper attention they should. The dialogue is atrocious, especially with the cursing. All the characters just keep cursing like they barely have any other words in their vocabulary. It’s pretty bad how many times the reader will come across “skies,” “gods,” and “dammit,” the last one seeming out of place with the setting. Though I’m not a big reader of fantasy YA, I do know when I read a great novel in the genre, and this is not it.

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