Dear Martin

dear martin

Dear Martin

By Nic Stone

Genre: Contemporary/Black Lives Matter

Publication Date: October 17, 2017

Bang Bang Review

Justyce McAllister is a black teen who attends a predominantly white prep school.  His best friend, Manny, is also black; he has some white acquaintances; his ex-girlfriend is half black; and his debate partner and love interest is Jewish.  After an incident with a police officer, Jus has decided to write to Martin Luther King Jr.

Let me begin by saying that I’m aware this has a high rating on GR and that it’s nominated for the Morris Award and I wanted to like it and I want to support black authors and Nic Stone looks like a cool as woman but there were too many issues for me to really enjoy it.  So here we go…

One of my main issues is that this book only touched the surface of race.  The incidents in the text were not uncommon to most people of all races including racial profiling, affirmative action, racially insensitive friends, and interracial dating.  The aforementioned topics did not shed much new light on the trials and tribulations of being African American.  Police killing black people has become a watershed moment and many non black teens don’t really understand it.  I had a white teen ask me, “Don’t all lives matter?” He’s a naturally curious boy and he just didn’t understand.  This book could have taken the opportunity to really get into the underbelly of the issue but I felt it only reached the surface.  There’s a lot of telling.  We see Jus’ incident in the beginning and we’re told about these other boys who were killed and an acquaintance of Jus is killed but we don’t really feel Jus’ frustrations or anger and it could be because it’s told in 3rd person.  Sure, Jus’ conversations with MLK are told in 1st person but when the real shit goes down, he’s taken a hiatus from his discourses with MLK and we see his stereotypical bad decisions.

Speaking of MLK, Jus’ conversations with him is what sets this book apart but it was a missed opportunity. Jus really only talks about his attraction to a white girl when he knows his mother won’t like it.  He does talk about his issues with Manny, his racially insensitive white classmates, and his run ins and attitudes about the police but once again, there’s no depth.  Jus did a big project on MLK which means he knows A LOT about this man’s life.  He should know that MLK taught non violence but he has to hear it from Manny’s father?  He’s about to become extremely violent and he doesn’t talk about it with MLK?  Instead we get a lot of talk about the white girl he likes.  This could have been an opportunity to teach teens something new about MLK to make them want to learn more about this man but instead, we didn’t learn anything.  I mean the book is called Dear Martin; I was expecting to see some comparison/contractions to the civil rights movement to the HUGE race issues we are facing today.  I expected Jus to be frank with Martin and discuss his serious issues with Manny, the white classmates, and his terrifying run in with the police but it was all surface level.

Jus really had a tough time with his crush with SJ, the Jewish girl, so I’m assuming this is a somewhat major issue.  I mean he cried about it; lost his appetite; wrote to MLK about it -DAMN.  But once again, the text only told us his mother wouldn’t like it.  We saw Mel get a bit upset but that’s it.  Black men dating white women is an issue in the black community and it really wasn’t addressed.  We could have learned about this through Mel’s eyes but no.  In college, I had a biracial friend whose mother was white and her father was black and it really bothered her to see a black man with a white girl.  She dating dark skinned men. Talk about it especially if it’s a contributing factor in being black in America which it is.  Once again, surface level.

None of the characters, including Jus had a new voice or were particularly developed well.  The dialog wasn’t particularly compelling or insightful.

My small issues included the teacher.  It bothered me that he encouraged the teens to have frank conversations but constantly interjected with “Watch your language” or “I’m calling the principal.” I didn’t understand the significance of him saying that on the page over and over and over.  Manny confessed that he’s afraid of black girls because they are ghetto and meanwhile, Manny was ghetto too. I laughed out loud at that shit.  Maybe it’s different in the south, I grew up and live in Illinois, but if you go to a predominantly white school, you don’t use a lot of urban slang.  My entire life I was told that I talk like a white girl and I went to racially diverse school even though I had a lot of white friends.  It just seemed unrealistic that Jus and especially Manny who had very well educated parents and who lived the lifestyle he lived and associated with a lot of white kids and dated white girls that his speech included a lot of slang.  I could be wrong and it could be a regional thing.

What’s My Point?

Dear Martin is a fine book if you are beginning your race-in-America discussion.  It’s just touching the surface and you aren’t going to get anything in depth.

I’m am at a point in my contemporary/realistic fiction reading where I need inspirational topics and themes; beautiful prose; and strong dynamic characters.  I need to learn something new or see it from a different perspective and if I’m reading the same thing over and over, I’m not gonna like and I’m gonna criticize it because I’m angry at its potential.

Everyone always tell me that I don’t like anything and yes, I’m quite critical.  If you are interested in the contemporary books that I REALLY liked they include Release by Patrick Ness; Landscape with Invisible Hand by MT Anderson; All the Crooked Saints by Stiefvater; Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds; The Hate U GiveMidnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson; Turtles All the Way Down. Some older books include Eleanor and Park; The Sun in Also a Star; I’ll Give You the Sun; More Happy Than Not; Grasshopper Jungle; Looking for Alaska; Bone Gap; The Serpent King; Simon vs Homosapiens Agenda.  See, I like stuff.

Bang Bang Rating bombbombbomb

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Love, Hate, and Other Filters

love hate and filters

Love, Hate, and Other Filters

By Samira Ahmed

Genre: Contemporary/We Need Diverse Books-Indian American Muslim Characters

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

Bang Bang Reveiw

Maya Aziz is an American born Indian Muslim with very traditional parents.  They want Maya to go to college near home and become a lawyer; Maya wants to go to NYU to study film making.  They want Maya to learn to cook and marry a good Indian boy; Maya wants to be a normal teen and date whomever she wants.  Meanwhile, Maya’s crush on Phil, the hot yet sensitive football player, may come to fruition and hot Indian college guy may also be in play.  Life is okay until there’s a terrorist attack and the accuser shares the same last name as Maya.  Being the only Indian family in their small town leaves the Aziz’s open for attacks which includes the Islamophobia Maya faces at school.

Each chapter ends with the perspective of the terrorist or someone going about that day.  You know at some point the terrorist and Maya are going to collide and the anticipation is how it’s going to affect Maya’s life.  I was assuming this book was a deeper exposition about Islamophobia but it’s not-DAMN YOU GOODREADS!  This is why I don’t like to read book descriptions because they can be misleading.  If I have misunderstood a book’s intention, most of the time I can get over it and see the book for what it’s for but in this case, I couldn’t.

This book was 75% about crushing on boys and dealing with parents and 25% about Islamophobia and that would have been fine if the author was adding something new to the former.  Although Maya was a likable and relatable character, I’ve read her voice before. I’ve read the same conversations she has with her parents in several other books.  The conversations were fine, the execution and pacing were fine but when this is the fourth book in 2017 where I’ve read the same topic; it looses its specialness and just becomes more of the same.  I also had a problem with the ending and Maya’s handling of the situation of her parents.  The author failed to show anger or resentment but instead Maya just goes to prom like everything’s peaches.

This book is getting lots of stars and praise and buzz and that’s great because it means more own voices novels but at the same time this book lacks depth.  This book does not get into the nastiness of Islamophobia; it’s a middle grade safe expose of islamophobia.

Here’s my point:

This book is a fluffy book that displays a conflict between an American born Indian girl and her strict cultural parents.  It’s about an Indian girl who likes the good Indian boy but also likes the white christian boy.  Those of us who are unfamiliar get to see an Indian wedding and learn about Muslim dating rituals and all of this is great.  Even though the writing isn’t deep, the subject matter is educational.

What you are not going to get from this book is something similar to The Hate U Give so if you think that’s what you’re getting, find another book. THUG focuses primarily on the mistreatment of blacks by law enforcement and the prejudices people have.  We see Star really struggle with her identity as being the only black girl in her school while in Filters, Maya just says she the only Indian but as the reader we don’t see what it’s like for Maya.  In THUG, Thomas takes peer racism to a level that non browns may not be aware of-making little comments and passing it off as jokes.  That is showing the reader a different type of racism that’s not commonly discussed.  In Filters, a peer calls Maya a raghead and although that’s racist, it’s something we’d expect to read in a book about Islamophobia.  I’m not Indian or Muslim and I’d like to learn about other ways people show their racism.  I am black, however, and I’ve been in a situation where a co-worker would call me a different stereotypical black girl name on a daily basis-Yolanda; Shaquanda; LaKiesha.  That’s something that white people may not be aware of.  It’s not jokes; it’s racist.

Basically with Filters, you are getting a light hearted book that begins a small conversation about Islamophobia and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I, however, didn’t know this was light and normally I can take it for what it is but the dialogue wasn’t special and nothing new was added to the cultural conflict with parents theme.

Bang Bang Rating:  bombbombbomb

Children of Blood and Bone Spoilers

Zelie (Zel) lives in Orisha where the non magical king has made it his mission to eradicate the Maji or magical people and he does so by murder. Zel’s mother was one of the fallen and Zel was born a diviner-magical child of fallen maji. Amari, the king’s daughter, is indifferent until an event forces her to take action against the king. She meets Zel and her brother Tzain, and they set off on a journey to restore magic back to the maji before it is gone forever.

Spoiler Edition

Ooo, this book is dense! Breathe…Breathe…Of We Go…

The book opens with Zel training with Mama Agba, a woman who runs a shop that makes clothes but is really a front for training diviners.  Zel is sparring with Yemi in order to graduate when the king’s army bursts in and demands a tax payment.  All the girls run to their sewing machines while Mama explains that she paid her taxes.  The soldier tells her that she getting taxed again because she employs diviners.  Zel complains that it isn’t fair and the soldiers see her and threaten her and leave. Zel’s brother Tzain runs it and said their father is in trouble.  They go find their father and see he’s almost drowning.  He’s saved and tells them the army wanted tax money and if he didn’t pay, they would take Zel as an indentured servant.  He was fishing to get money.  Zel and Tzain take the fish to the market to sell.

Amari is at the castle when her diviner maid is replaced.  Amari is worried that her father found some jewelry she gave her maid to pay the tax increase and goes snooping.  She overhears her father and his two top soldiers talking about a maji scroll.  The soldiers, including Kaea the king’s lover, tell the king that the scroll they tried to destroy made it to Warri and the diviners gained some of their magic back.  They tried to destroy the scroll 11 years ago but they couldn’t so they threw it into a body of water.  When they found the scroll in Warri, they killed all the diviners and recovered it.  The king wanted to see it’s power so he made Amari’s maid hold it and she got some powers and he killed her. They put it in the king’s office but Amari stole it and ran away because of her maid.

While in the market, Zel was about to sell her special fish to a worker in the castle when chaos brakes out and people started running everywhere.  A girl asks for Zel’s help and being the Gryffindor that she is, she helps her try to get out.  The girl is Amari and as they try to escape, they are met with the king’s army including Inan, Amari’s brother and the crowned prince.  Zel and Amari jump on Nailah, Zel’s horse sized panther or lion (?), and Amari hits Inan while the scroll is in her hand but they escape.

History lesson:

11 years proir, the maji killed King Saran’s father, his first wife, and his 1st born son.  Saran found a way to sever the connection between god and maki. He called the raid as revenge. Inan and Amari know this and this is Inan’s justification for ridding the world of magic. Also, magic begins to show when diviners turn 13.

Zel, Tzain, and Amari return to Zel’s home to find their father at Mama Agba’s.  The royals have started bombing their villiage as Zel tells Agba about the scroll.  The trio learns that the scroll is a ritual and a way to connect to the Gods. Agba tells Zel that she was a maji but she had a Healer/Cancer Maji give her cancer to make all her white hair fall out.  Agba is a Seer and she tells the trio that she sees them traveling to Chandomble-the temple of the protectors of magic and spiritual order.  Kaea tells Inan to kill everyone in the villiage but Inan wants a more humane resolution.  Inan begins to have visions of the trio, especially Zel, and he thinks Zel infected him.  He can hear Zel’s thoughts and a white streak has begun to grow in his hair.  He doesn’t tell Kaea.  We find out that Inan is a connector who weilds power over mind, spirit, and dreams.

The trio travel on Nailah to the temple knowing Inan is chasing them. They find the temple and enter thru a statue and are immediately poisoned.  They are met by a sentaro named Lekan.

Here is the history of the world:

On earth, Nana Buruku created humans, her children of blood and bone.  In the heavens Nana gave birth to the gods and goddesses. Each god and goddess posses a different fragment of her soul. To connect the gods and humans, she gave some of the magic to humans and each human has a diety.  One diety, Oya the goddesses of Life and Death, didn’t take from Nana like her siblings; she asked Nana/Sky Mother to give which showed patience and wisdom.  Nana/Sky mother gave her power over life and death.  Oya realized that great power could be abused so she only granted the power to those who showed patience and wisdom. These special people have coiled white hair like Nana Buruku.  Soon, the other dieties granted powers to a selected few and the maji population dwindled.

Here’s the plot of book 1 (I took this word from word from chapter 18):

The trio have to take three artifacts to a sacred island.  The bone dagger is a sacred relic carved from the skeleton of the first sentaro.  The dagger is needed to draw the binding blood from the mamalawo who keeps magic alive.  Whoever wields it draws strength from the life force of all those who have wielded it before.  The sunstone is a living fragment of Sky Mother’s soul.  When holding the stone, you tether her to the world keeping magic alive. Every century, the mamalawo carried the scroll, the dagger, and the stone to a sacred temple to perform the binding ritual.  By drawing her blood with the dagger and using the power impbued into the stone, the mamalawo sealted the spiritual connection of the gods into the sentaros’ blood. The mamalawo must say the words on the scroll to complete the ritual. As long as the bloodline survives, magic does too.

What happened 11 years prior when magic died:

King Saran knew of this ritual, came to the temple and killed everyone thus severing Sky Mother’s connection and ripping magic from the world. This ensured that the ritual could not be performed ever again. Lekan was away on a pilgramage that day and returned to a slaughter and the last sentaro alive.  As Saran was killing everyone at the temple, he ordered his army to kill all the maji in Orisha.

Back to the plot:

Although the scroll brings back magic it cannot make a permanent connection the trio has to perfrom the sacred ritual.  They have the scroll and the now the dagger, which they got from Lekan, they have to find the sunstone.  On the centennial solstice, a sacred island appears off the northern coast of the Orinion Sea and is home to the temple of the gods. The trio must take the three artifacts to the temple and recite the ancient incantation on the scroll to restore the connection and secure magic for another hundred years.  They have less than two weeks (?) to get the stone and get to the island. Only a woman can be a mamalawo so Lekan cannot perform the ritual.  He endoctrinates Zel to be the mamalawo.

Back to the story: 

After Lekan’s ritual with Zel to be the mamalawo, they hear Inan and flee but have to cross a rickety bridge.  Lekan holds off Inan and Kaea with magic to give the trio a headstart but when he has to break his hold on Inan and Kaea to save Zel, Kaea kills Lekan.  The bridge is uncrossable so Inan calls in the troops to rebuild buying our trio a headstart.  Inan dreams about Zel and finds out her location. Kaea notices that Inan hesitates to kill or call his dad.  She notices his white hair and tries to convince him to go home and tell his father.  He tries to reason and stop her with magic but he accidently kills her which leaves blue crystals in her hair.

The trio travel to Ibeji and discover a fighting ring.  The winners win the Babaluaye relic that grants eternal life.  The trio finds out that the relic is the sunstone. The trio enters the competition and Zel discovers she can use her magic to conjure an army of dead soldiers from all the spirits of the dead maji who have not passed over.  During the competition, Zel uses all her energy repairing their boat.  The trio wins and everyone thinks Zel is immortal.

As the trio celebrates the victory and the fact that they have all three relics, Inan catches up to them.  Tzain and Amari are taken by masked people leaving Zel and Inan.  They capture one masked man but in the tussle Inan sees Zel’s mother’s capture and feels her pain.  They torture the masked man for info.  They find their camp and see Amari and Tzain.  Inan and Zel agree to call a truce to rescue their family.

The camp questions Amari but don’t believe her because she’s royal.  Their leader is Zu, a  12 year old, and while they are captured; Zu turns 13 and gets her power especially because of the scroll.  Zu is a healer and heals Tzain.  Zel and Inan plan to use her dead army to resuce Amari and Tzain but Kwame has the scroll and can conjure fire.  Inan almost sacrifices himself to save Zel when Kwame attacks. They almost kill each other but Zu stops them because they shouldn’t fight each other.  The camp of diviners are from Warri where the scroll was found.  Everyone celebrates and Zel meets a flirtatous man named Roen.  Zel and Inan go off into the woods and make out.  Tzain is upset because once again, Zel’s carelessness is a detriment to others.  They have a big fight and Tzain leaves the camp with Amari. The king’s guards arrive and Zu and Kwame die saving their camp.

Zel is captured by the king and holds her in a majicite cell, a metal that supresses magic.  Inan tries to reason with his father to no avail.  Inan is taken away as the king carves MAGGOT into Zel’s back. Maggot is a slur for the maji and the worst name you can call them.  Inan does not confess his maji-ness and does nothing to stop his father.

Tzain and Amari go to a nearby tavern to find his diviner friends and ask them for help.  They agree to help rescue Zel. Tzain’s friends create a diversion during the rescue attempt.  One of the diviners melts the guard’s blades.  Another diviner, a cancer, leaks sliver liquid that causes diseases when it touches skin.  The king sees Amari. Inan sees all the destruction caused by the diviners and begins to agree with his father that magic is bad and should be abolished.  He goes to Zel’s cell and when Amari and Tzain rescue her, Inan stays behind. Inan and Zel have goodbye sex in their shared dreams.  After the rescue, Zel realizes that her magic is gone and she only tells Amari.

How it ends:

The trio and Tzain’s friends travel to Jimenta because they are running out of time to get to the island and need a short cut.  Jimenta is a rough place but they need their boat.  They send Zel to ask the ruthless leader for help and it is Roen.  In exchange for their boat and their help, Zel promises them gold and jobs in the palace when it’s all over.  They agree.  While sailing the the island, Zaria, they see the king’s armada. They need to overtake a ship to outrun the king and Roen’s men over take one in an impressive 7 minutes. They dress like the guards to get passed the king who has surrounded the island. When they get to the island, they are met by the King, Inan and Zel and Tzain’s father Baba who has been taken as ransom.  The king will exchange their father for the scroll and the stone and Zel agrees because her magic is gone.  She gives them the two relics but she never told Inan about the dagger and she keeps it.  The king kills Baba anyway.  When her father’s blood touches her, it restores her magic.  She becomes angry about her father’s death and begins to turn people into ash.  Inan grabs the scroll with a plan to end magic.  He baits Zel to hurt him and she burns the scroll, he is happy.  He sees his father coming with the stone and he sees a “guard” ready to kill the king and he uses his magic to stop the guard. The king sees the blue crystals in the guard’s hair and realizes Inan killed Kaea.  The king comes after Inan and tries to stab him. Inan begs for his life as his father says, “You are no son of mine.” Inan blacks out.

In Amari’s chapter, she sees the king stab Inan in the stomach.  Amari kills the king.

During all the chaos, the solstice has begun. The scroll has burned but she takes the stone in hopes she can save it. She cuts her hand and touches the stone to bind her blood and her father’s blood. The souls speak the incantation through Zel.  The sandstone shatters and light invades Zel’s body. As it fades, Zel sees truth in plain sight and hidden all along. “We are children of blood and bone. All instruments of vengeance and virtue.” “It binds me its love as death swallws me into its grasp.” Zel sees her mother. Her mother tells her what she did at the temple is unlike anything the spirits have ever seen. She tells Zel that she will always be with her but tells her she has to go because Orisha needs her. She tells Zel that it’s not over; it’s only just begun. Zel wakes up on the boat with Tzain, Amari, and Roen.  She asks if magic is back and Amari shakes her head and hold up her hand. Her hand swirls with blue lights and she has a white streak of hair.  Zel’s blood chills to ice.

Cliffhanger!!!

 

 

Oooh, Cute!

If you haven’t heard of The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, you will because they have been given that book away like the plague.  It’s a retelling of Alice in Wonderland and you can read my review here.  FYI, I’m not a fan of Alice in Wonderland and I didn’t know it was a retelling until midway thru. Nonetheless, I didn’t enjoy it and it’s partially because I don’t like Alice in Wonderland and partially because there was too much going on.

Anyway, I’m writing this post because MacMillian has a cute promotional campaign for the book.  It looks like they’ve made little booklets of Alice’s grandmother’s famous stories.  I’d really like to read Alice Three Times so maybe there’ll be an opportunity to trade stories…YAAASSS!

Did you get one? Which story did you get?hazelwood 2hazelwood 3

Any Bangs in November

NO!

I read a lot this month because I’m rushing to complete my Goodreads goal.  As of December 1st, I have ten books left-YIKES!  I read some pretty good books and I read some stinkers (I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t read some stinkers) so here we go.

As always, click the title for the full review.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton-I read and reviewed this for School Library Journal so you read my review in an upcoming issue of SLJ.

bombbombbombbomb City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson-Great pacing, good characters, solid adventure tale.

bombbomb 1/2 The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer Nielsen-Super bratty and unlikable protagonist, tropey world, and insta love.

bombbombbomb Ghostly Echoes by James Ritter- I was really interested in Jenny’s backstory but it was a bit anti climactic.

bombbombbomb The Dire King by James Ritter- Too many damn characters.

bombbombbombbomb 1/2 Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman-Faced paced and strong themes, but that ending was too much.

bombbombbomb A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle-I hate to say this but the pacing was bananas and there was a lot of info that didn’t drive the plot.

bombbombbombbomb Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge-Great premise but there was one too  many adventures.

bombbombbombbomb 4/5 Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi-Awesome pacing, great characters.

bombbomb 1/2- The Kill Order by James Dashner-No explanation of the apocalypse.

bombbomb Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare-Great premise but the insta love and the pacing was bad.

How did I read so may books, you ask?  I listened to four on audiobook while I was at work and I increased the speed to 1.75.

TBR for December

I will probably listen to at least one audiobook but I don’t know what will be yet.  I’m also trying to get the ARC of a couple of books so I won’t list them.

 

 

Iron, Ink and Glass

ink iron glass

Iron, Ink and Glass (Book 1)

By Gwendolyn Clare

Genre: Steampunk/Historical Fiction

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Bang Bang Review

Elsa lives in the scripted society and her mother is a scriptologist or in other words, her mother can write new worlds that come alive.  One day, Elsa is knocked unconscious and when she awakes, her mother has been taken.  Determined to find her mother, Elsa travels through an alternate dimension, Earth, and meets other mad scientists like herself.

This is a pretty cool premise and Elsa is black which is also pretty cool. Elsa can travel through dimensions with a doorknob, I think, and she travels to Paris, I think, to find an important person murdered and his house on fire.  This leaves Elsa with no leads so she finds her mother’s mentor to help.  He takes her to Italy to a couple who is in an Order and they live in a house full of orphans who are also mad scientist-special teens.  Of course there’s a hot guy and a busy body girl but Elsa just wants to be left alone (eye roll).    Of course Elsa finds out she’s more special than the special ones, I won’t say what, but this catches the eye of the hot guy which makes the busy body jealous.

Remember this is steampunk in a 19th century Italy and at one point, Elsa and the hot guy travel by hansom cab spider and Elsa is insecure because people are looking at her because she’s brown but no one does a double take at the huge spider carrying people? This book turned into an adventure story with Elsa, the hot guy, the busy body, and some other dude and of course they know all kinds of history that’s important to the plot and begins to info dump everything-super convenient.  The next section is a spoilery rant so highlight it if you want to see it. So mid way through we find out about some random guy named Gabraldi or something like that.  He’s a real Italian historical figure. Anyway, his name is suddently on everyone’s tongue and of course he’s the bad guy and we know that the hot guy’s father and brother were killed but SURPRISE, his father is the badee.  This happened so quickly, I shouted my disgust out loud-COME ON!There was no set up or foreshadowing and it just came out of left field. 

The pacing of this novel was bananas and it should have been a red flag that this is a fantasy novel with a new world and it’s only 336 pages.  This book reeks with instalove and info dumping and I DNFed at 75%.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb

Children of Blood and Bone

children of blood and bone

Children of Blood and Bone

By Tomi Adeyemi

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Bang Bang Review

Zelie (Zel) lives in Orisha where the non magical king has made it his mission to eradicate the Maji or magical people and he does so by murder.  Zel’s mother was one of the fallen and Zel was born a diviner-magical child of fallen maji. Amari, the king’s daughter, is indifferent until an event forces her to take action against the king.  She meets Zel and her brother Tzain, and they set off on a journey to restore magic back to the maji before it is gone forever.

Blood and Bone is a doorstopper; it’s 600 pages and almost every word is action packed or important to the plot-no fluff here. It’s told from first person of three different POVs, Zel, Amari, and Inan, the crowned prince. There’s so much to unpack, I don’t know where to start.

I guess I’ll begin with Zel.  She’s a total Gryffindor.  She’s very brave but she acts before she thinks and this often gets everyone in a jam.  The story begins with Zel training with a staff so she can defend herself and others and she holds her own through out the story. We meet Amari at the castle with her domineering mother.  Amari begins as a girl who has given up fighting and goes with the flow until something happens and she overhears her father and his commanders discussing an ancient artifact that could restore magic.  She decides at the moment to stop her father’s maji cleansing by stealing the artifact and making a run for it.  She runs into Zel and being the Gryffindor that she is, Zel helps the royal much to the chagrin of Tzain.  The trio are told that they are destined to take this journey to restore magic and off they go.

Meanwhile Inan, the captain of the Orisha army, is commanded by the king to find his sister and retrieve the artifact.  Inan understandably worships his father and wants to be a good king so he agrees but he soon realizes that he’s different.  I won’t say because it’s more fun for you to read it.  Inan is now conflicted and makes some honorable and spineless decisions.

There’s a lot going on in this book.  Adeyemi tackles racism, genocide, and abuse of power.  The king has some justifiable concerns about magic and the maji as does Zel and Adeyemi forces you to choose but it’s difficult because both sides have compelling arguments.  This was refreshing because in most fantasy books, it’s good versus evil and as the reader you stand with good but in Blood and Bone it’s not that easy.

Overall, all the characters were very well developed and quite complex.  This is a journey book but there were never moments of useless information or action for shock value-everything drove the plot.  Adeyemi did a lot of research as this story is steeped in African folklore. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I hope there is a book 2 because that ending was not quite an ending.

Click here for the spoiler edition.

Bang Bang Rating: bang