Children of Blood and Bone

(partial review)

I couldn’t finish this book. I couldn’t even get halfway.

To be clear, Children of Blood and Bone is competently written, at least as far as I got, which according to my Kindle, was thirty-six percent. In terms of praise for the novel, the worldbuilding was sound and was sufficient to support the narrative arc Adeyemi was building, and it had some damn cool ideas bouncing around in there to boot.

Still, I couldn’t muster up any willingness to care about these characters — four teenagers caught on either side of the divide between the oppressed, magically inclined maji, and the royal dynasty that ordered their systematic genocide a generation past.

The setup has merit, and I’ve no doubt Adeyemi will do well with it over the course of her planned trilogy, but this book is clearly not intended for me. The action happens at a very brisk pace, and the characters barely have any time to pause and reflect before they are plunged right back into the thick of things again — and indeed, the character’s own emotional arcs run at the same breakneck speed. The plot resembles very clearly the general structure of the show Avatar: the Last Airbender, right down to the trio of adventurers opposing a tyrannical imperial power, racing against a celestial clock while being pursued by an antihero protagonist who is, doubtless, destined to turn to their side by the story’s end. In the hands of the Avatar crew, the structure turned to its advantage. Here, the plot is stifling, not allowing any space for the characters to breathe and develop naturally.

I don’t know why I reacted so strongly to this novel; perhaps I am simply unused to the pace set by Adeyemi. It seems a conscious stylistic choice, and she is welcome to it, but it systematically drove away any engagement I had with her narrative.

It got to the point that I began looking for anything else to take up my time, rather than return to read Children. That’s as damning an indictment as any. While I’ve no doubt there are many readers who would fall in love with this book, I cannot personally recommend it.

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