It’s a really strange time and we are all processing #SocialDistancing differently. Friends and colleagues will have noticed my increased presence on Twitter. I am mindlessly checking my email many, many times an hour and perpetuating my underlying anxieties. As a result, I have set myself some digital check out time every day. Sometimes I’m going to spend that time attacking my To Be Read pile. This is a (possibly short) chronicle of what I finish or abandon. Wherever I can, these reviews will be written immediately after finishing the book. These are not measured reflections. They are gut reactions.
Tomi Adeyemi. Children of Blood and Bone. London: MacMillan. 2018.
Good lord. When I started this book this morning, I was fairly ambivalent and to be honest, I nearly abandoned it. I wasn’t really caught by the story or the characters until over halfway through. I only persisted because someone I love really enjoyed it and by the end I could see why. I read the last 150 pages in less than an hour.
I wonder if I have read too many dystopian Young Adult (YA) novels because I think Children of Blood and Bone comes most alive in its happiest scenes. It has some pockets of compelling actionbut the dances, laughing, parties, and moments of belonging landed most with me. The book’s most beautiful detail is the slow reveal as Zélie’s hair returns to a natural state while she is coming into her magic. That’s not something I’ve seen in a book like this before.
I read YA and children’s books because I enjoy them but I’m also always scouting for things for my godchildren that incorporate Black and neurodiverse characters. I never saw myself in a book when I was young but I try to surround them with stories featuring people like us as much as possible. I think that Children of Blood and Bone fills a vital gap. I definitely didn’t read a story set in Nigeria when I was young, and truthfully, I was introduced to “African Literature” as a “genre” of book by pretentious white teachers at school: “you must read Things Fall Apart.” What we needed was more books by authors from across the continent and from the diaspora. Stories of all kinds. I am going to buy the audiobook for my oldest godchild right away. He’s just seen Black Panther. He’s slowly watching Avatar: the Last Airbender with his dads. He will LOVE this book.
As for me, I know I will read the next one someday. Unlike Natasha Ngan’s Girls of Paper and Fire, I don’t feel like I need to read the sequel right away (although I totally would if I had it). However, I know I’ll be happy when I do read Children of Virtue and Vengeance. For some unknown reason, I am entirely on Team Inan and I need to know where he ends up.