Rising Up With Tomi Adeyemi's "Children of Blood and Bone"
I have this thing. Whenever I read a five-star caliber book, there’s always a moment where I realize, “This will be a book I’ll remember for years to come.” Sometimes it’s something as simple as a quote from a character, other times it’s the way a world unfolds, or a plot point that hits out of nowhere, turning the story on its head. What’s my point? Well, this book had a few of these moments, but I’ll try to keep this short.
Children of Blood and Bone
Children of Blood and Bone (CBB) is a story about a young woman, Zelie who had her mother stolen from her, killed by a violent tyrant’s desire to rid the world of magic. With her mother gone, her father broken, and her people living in fear, Zelie embarks on a journey that she never thought she would. She is tasked with bringing magic back, giving her people a fighting chance to live lives from under the oppressive rule of those in power.
Zelie is a great protagonist. She doesn’t believe that she is chosen by the gods, doubts her ability to do what they’ve called her to do. Ever the screwup, she just assumes that she’ll do the same with this mission, and says as much throughout a lot of the book. We watch her come into her own, which is saying something because she was pretty badass to start out with.
That’s not to say that she’s a perfect character, because she’s not. Not of the characters we spend time with are. And that’s one of the best parts of CBB. The characters feel real, they feel alive, they feel magical.
We spend time in the heads of three characters: Zelie, our fierce maji (magic user), Amari, the rogue princess who wants to change the world, and Inan, the crown prince who wants nothing more than to serve his country and do his father proud. Each offer up a unique, and most of the time contrasting view on the world and the way things work and unfold. The POV changes keeps things fresh while allowing you to learn more about these characters, their motivations, their hope and dreams, their fears. You come to care for them, hope for their triumph, or in some cases, their downfall.
Adeyemi crafted characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page, whether it’s Zelie’s determination to protect her family, no matter the cost, Amari’s desire to avenge and do right by her lost best friend and the new friends she’s gained, or Inan’s all but unshakable duty to his country. And that’s not even talking about the world she’s built!
The different maji clans, with their respective gods, powers and titles is something I want to learn more about. It seems so deep, especially given how some of the characters regale others with stories of the deities they pray to. If we could ever get a side story that centers around the origin of these gods, I would love that! Because despite them being deities, Adeyemi does a great job making them feel like so much more than gods the maji pray to. The lore of this world is like a fine tapestry, colorful strands woven together that don’t do much alone, but when brought together? It’s a sight to behold.
Children of Blood and Bone checks all the boxes for a great book. It has characters that stand out and stay with you; a plot that has you waiting to keep reading…even if you have to get up for work early the next morning; and it has the potential to be a series with longevity. There are fewer things better than finding a book that speaks to you. Zelie and her people deal with blatant discrimination, oppression, and seemingly insurmountable odds, drawing parallels with many of the black people today, without being preachy or heavy-handed. Truly a timely book boasting characters and a world you want to spend multiple books with. Tomi Adeyemi wrests the reigns from those who would keep her from rising to the top with a stunning, epic debut!