Bingo 20: Africa
Children of Blood and Bone fits kind of into the Afro-futurism arena, and it’s also based on West African folklore/mythology and takes place is an African-esque setting. I was intrigued by the worldbuilding and some of the characters were interesting, but the plot and two of the three main characters were stupid teenagers making cringe-worthy teen angsty kinds of decisions. I know this is YA, but it’s kind of making me feel my age (barely 40+) a little.
Zelie and her brother Tzain lost their mother years before the action starts when the king decided to kill all of the magic users and block magic from coming to the next generation, and Zelie’s mother was a powerful user of death magic (called a Reaper) killed in front of her family. Zelie is understandably angry at the world and the ruling class; however, she always does the impulsive emotional thing when everyone tells her not to, she knows she’ll regret it, and she feels bad afterwards, but she keeps doing it. That’s all the character is. She doesn’t grow or change, and that really irritates me and gets old. The other sibling pair is (of course) the evil king’s kids, son Inan and daughter Amari. Amari wants a better world with more justice but has no idea how to fight against her father; Inari supports his father. Naturally, Amari and Inan are going to encounter Zelie and Tzain and get forced to work together for the survival of all.
There are so many predictable elements to the story including the potential romantic tensions (toxic in one pair’s case, undeveloped in the other), the struggle to understand each other, the betrayals and rescues, definitely a chosen one quest, gathering of a mixed group of allies, someone’s got a pretty big secret, and the race against time to possibly bring magic back and at the same time confront the villain of the story (guess who that is).
The narration alternates between Zelie, Amari, and Inan for the most part, and it’s pretty hard to tell Zelie and Inana apart most of the time at first. Amari is the only character who gets any kind of development and growth, which makes her one of the more interesting ones to follow. She and Zelie seem almost like they could be good for each other in a lot of ways, but that’s not the interest Zelie seems to want. The writing style gets pretty redundant too; when a character dies (deserved or not) it’s almost always a sharp pointy object through the chest and the description of their reaction is almost identical every time. Descriptions of how magic feels are not varied even though they are mentioned by different characters who have different abilities and different experiences.
I know this book got a lot of attention and I can see why for the scenario and magic system, but not much else. I admit I looked up the sequel but the reviews kind of sealed the deal for me that it’s not worth the follow up.