Review: A Deserving Diverse Formulaic Fantasy in Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeymi

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1)
Page Count: 525 pages
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Age Range: Young Adult
Source: Purchased
Goodreads: Children of Blood and Bone review

me: i don’t read trilogies!!!!!!!
me: i don’t read fantasy!!!!!!!!

me: *takes two long months to read Children of Blood and Bone*

Here’s a brief overview of my history reading trilogies:

  • Book 1: read within the first year of it’s release, and/or immediately after the sequel is released
  • Book 2: read within the first weeks of it’s release
  • Book 3: ………………………………. 😐

I cannot even tell you how many trilogies I haven’t finished. I usually read the second book and then get distracted/bored/uninterested/etc by the time the third book comes out! The only way to I finish a series is if all the books are already published and I acquire them all in one giant sweep. (Guys I honestly think the last series I finished in real-time publication might have been Twilight.)

Anyway, the entire time reading Children of Blood and Bone, in the root of my gut I just feel that this series won’t be any different.

Zélie has been cast as the Chosen One. She accidentally comes across runaway princess Amari, and along with Zélie’s brother, Tzain, the three of them travel through Orïsha in order to bring magic back to their country.

I’ve been following Tomi Adeyemi’s writing blog for literally years, and she honestly is one of the most brilliant writers I’ve stumbled across. Tomi Adeyemi is smart; she knows exactly what she is doing and this was an impressive debut.

You could definitely tell she put a lot of work into the world-building. I loved how frequently the setting shifted and I always got a clear sense of place in every new place the trio traveled to. The clan structure and magic system was also pretty thorough as well and I was pretty satisfied with the amount of history that was brought up surrounding Orïsha’s magic.

For a debut, I thought the writing was great. There were a few moments where I felt like there were a few lines that were just trying to hard to get onto a quotable bookmarked, but overall I really enjoyed the level of detail the descriptions held. I loved the descriptions of the clothing, I thought that was one of the clearest things that stuck out to me.

Children of Blood and Bone is one of the most structured books I’ve heard read. While this did not take away from my enjoyment nor did it really add anything to my experience reading the book, but the plot structure was so intentionally traditional that I could predict everything that was coming.

I used to teach creative writing to children as one of my first jobs out of college, and I used C.O.W. as an acronym to teach kids elements of a good story. That is, you have a character who wants something, but there’s an obstacle that gets in their way. As the writer, you have to come up with a solution to the obstacle, in order for the character to get what they want. Ya know, like basic fiction writing 101.

The obstacles that Zélie faced were so consistent. I didn’t necessarily predict what the challenges were, but you could always sense when an obstacle was coming. It was often closely followed by a neat solution, and then we were moving on to the next obstacle. Each challenge had higher and higher stakes as the story continued, just like inverted triangle plot structure. (I will add that there was basically NO falling action or conclusion. The book ended on such a huge cliffhanger so like can I truly say that this book really followed that plot structure???)

I think there’s an inherent need for diverse books that follow fiction writing formulas, so I hope this didn’t across as negative. It was really apparent the entire time I was reading and while predictability doesn’t bother me personally as a reader I still feel like it’s important to take note.

One of the benefits of formulaic fiction is this particular story moved super quickly. While it took me literal months to read this, this is extremely digestible and the plot was really easy to follow and the language was easy to read without being simplistic. Whenever I would sit down to read it, I would be completely sucked in to the story.

One thing that helps move the story along aside from the plot is the complexity of the characters. I am extremely character driven reader, and I absolutely loved both Amari and Tzain 😍

I honestly enjoyed each POV; while Amari was definitely my favorite character, there was not a single POV that I liked less than the others which very rarely happens with multi-POV stories. The characters all had some major flaws to work through, and while some of them had more character development than others, each of them were changed by the end of the book.

Probably one of the main reasons trilogies are hard for me to complete is because I have a hard time connecting to the heroine. Zélie is a very traditional YA heroine: rash, a little self-absorbed, brave, and headstrong. I didn’t love her like so many other reviewers I’ve read, but I also didn’t dislike her either. I’m excited to see where the rest of the series takes her because she deserves a really strong development arc.

I’m joining on the We Love Amari bandwagon because she was definitely the character with the largest growth through the story. I loved reading her emotional and mental struggles and she was was able to work through her mental roadblocks. She’s super thoughtful, and I loved the relationship that Zélie and Amari developed through the book.

No spoilers but I wasn’t a fan of the insta-love relationship in this. It felt very forced and underdeveloped and added some unnecessary drama. If that pairing had been less romantic and more platonic I think it not only would’ve made their conflict stronger but it also wouldn’t have taken anything away from the story.

Children of Blood and Bone had some heavy themes relating back to the Black Lives Matter movement, which Tomi Adeyemi also discusses in her author’s note. It was pretty apparent throughout reading and I really enjoyed how seamlessly it was weaved into the plot and the characters. It never felt overwhelming but it wasn’t subtle either.

I gave this a soft 4 star rating, I think ultimately I would’ve given it a 3.5 and for those I usually round down, but this was probably the first YA book I’ve read that consists of an all POC cast of characters and I feel like both the book and the author really deserve it.

I also feel like my hesitations with the book just go back to my personal preferences as a reader. Idk maybe people who read more fantasy than me might like or dislike the book more than I did.

I’m definitely planning on picking up the second book, but given my previous track-record who knows if I’ll finish the series!!

Ultimately, I did enjoy this but it was a really slow read for me. It was really easy for me to put down and it was a never a book that I thought about obsessively in between readings.

If you’ve read this hmu because I NEED to talk about this ending with someone!!!!!

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2 thoughts on “Review: A Deserving Diverse Formulaic Fantasy in Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeymi

  1. Fabulous review. I wish the authors wouldn’t insert romance when just friendship would work out great in the story… I think I have been procrastinating this book for this reason and secondly, she was rude to my fav author Nora Roberts… So now I have this book on my TBR for now

    1. I was procrastinating it for a while, but I’m ultimately glad I read it! The romance was annoying for me, but there is SO much other stuff going on that it was easy to kind of gloss over.

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