August 20, 2018

Fantasy is changing (for the better) | Takeaways from Children of Blood and Bone

5 Takeaways is a feature here at Crazy for YA designed to exalt some books that deserve more than just a review. You can see the other posts in this feature here. 

This feature is specifically for books where I decided that a review was kind of pointless. Almost everyone knows about the book and its pristine reputation. You don't need another person screaming at you to read this book (no matter how amazing it is). It is a given that this book received five stars and that my review would never do it justice. 

To me, the signal that a book is truly great, unforgettable, and absolutely worth reading is that it taught me something. Or even in rare cases, more than one thing. The real power of Children of Blood and Bone not only lies in its good story, but the ideas it leaves with the readers.

Children of Blood and Bone
By Tomi Adeyemi
Legacy of Orisha #1
Published on March 6, 2018
525 Pages
Young Adult, Fantasy

They killed my mother. They took our magic.They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
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.


1. Books can have a clear message without being overbearing or didactic.

Children of Blood and Bone is a book with a message. The oppression and violence may exist in a fictional world (a beautifully written one at that) but it perfectly mirrors the conflict and tension that exists in our real world.

It shows the brutality of genocide and prejudice in a slightly distanced way that allows the issues to come to the forefront of our minds. By using a fantastical world to bring up these issues, Adeyemi makes difficult conversations easier. Even though it seems backwards, talking about the systemic hardships pressed on Zelie, Tzain, and their people also brings up the very real racism and inequalities in our own society. The conversation might start with fictional characters, but it ends in the horrible reality of our own world--and how we can fight to fix it.

The nuanced incorporation of political themes doesn't scare away the reader, but still definitely leaves them something to think about.

2. The hate-to-love romance is great, but the hate-to-love-back-to-hate romance is even more interesting.

Without giving away too many spoilers, the relationship between Inan and Zelie is intricate and deep, but probably not in the way romantics want it to be. They start off following the standard trope of hate to love, which even had me rolling my eyes at points, but then evolved into something different.

I also really enjoyed how the romance plays into the questions of power dynamics and equality in relationships. One of the developments that I am looking forward to the most in the sequel is how Inan and Zelie interact. Their relationship (if we can call it that anymore) is left up in the air and I am interested to see how Inan reacts.

3. Even unlikeable characters can have depth and development

I hate Inan. He made terrible decisions. He hurt so many people. He never really changed throughout the story. He is a static, stubborn character who stands against pretty much everything I was rooting for throughout the book. However, I believe he is one of the best characters in the novel.

Even though he remains blinded by the oppressive regime that his father raised him into, he still has character development. His thought processes change (maybe not for the better, but their is some kind of development). 

Adeyemi makes us have hope for Inan--if one man can change then the whole nation can. Inan is a symbol of hope and also of destruction. He is so much more than a love interest and I loved his unpredictable role in the novel.

4. I can love every perspective in a book

There is normally one perspective that I hate in a book. And even though I hate Inan for who he is and what he believes in, his POV was still impeccably written. There were distinctions between all of the POVs. I could figure out which character it was without the names in the headings.

Each POV added a genuinely new voice to the story, not repeating anything or stating the obvious (which I noticed can be issues with multiple perspectives). The transitions between POVs were seamless and enhanced the story. Through the voices of multiple people on different sides of the ideological spectrum, Adeyemi showed how different people, and different worldviews, contribute to or pacify conflict. This is not a one-sided story, but an interconnected web of voices, thoughts, and ideas.

5. Fantasy is changing

Zelie is a female lead in a fantasy novel who is not defined by her romantic situation. The cast of characters is diverse--completely composed of POC characters. The story is own voices through the writing of Tomi Adeyemi, a Nigerian-American, that solely features people of color.

Children of Blood and Bone not only addresses issues of diversity and representation, but carries those issues in its very bones.

Fantasy used to (and still in some ways is) a white male dominated genre. Female characters were few, and those who were not subject to fetishization or sexism were even fewer. However, Children of Blood and Bone savagely breaks that cycle and proves that women and POC not only deserve the spotlight in fantasy, but they can crush the competition.

Have you read Children of Blood and Bone? If so, what were your takeaways? What do you think about Inan? Do you hate him or still have hope? How do you think that fantasy is changing?

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