I’ve got two bite-sized reviews for you today. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Series: Legacy of Orïsha #1
Published by Macmillan Young Listeners on March 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Length: 18 hrs and 9 mins
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Some violence)
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
First off, I just have to start by saying that the audiobook version of this book is amazing! Bahni Turpin is a fantastic narrator, and I absolutely love the accents she uses for the book I have no idea if they are accurate African accents—or if they’re even meant to be, since the book takes place in a fantasy world, not the real world—but they definitely have an African flair to them. I appreciated the differences between Zélie’s more rural sounding accent and the smoother sound of Amari and Inan’s voices (those ultra-rolling r’s are so beautiful to listen to). I almost never had trouble determining whose narration I was listening to, which is hard for a single narrator to manage.
Now on to the story. The fact that we get three POVs in this book really helps. You expect (from the blurb) to only see Orïsha from Zélie’s perspective. I think this would have been a very different book if that were the case. Instead, we see the internal struggles of people on both sides of the cultural divide. Zélie’s people have been oppressed and beaten down. We want nothing more than to see free her people and claim the magic that rightfully belongs to them. This is the true core of the story. But we also see the world through the eyes of Amari and Inan—Amari is a princess who wants nothing to do with her father’s brutality. She has lived a sheltered life, in some ways, but as the story progresses we learn that she has not always had an easy life. Inan, on the other hand, believes that his father’s quest to rid the world of magic is justified. He sees the pain that magic brought to his father’s family, and his father has taught him that his duty to his kingdom comes before all else. Inan sees destroying magic as his duty. I appreciated that the story wasn’t completely black and white—when we learn the king’s story and his motives you can almost understand him … almost.
My only complaint about the book is that multiple characters’ opinions about the goodness and necessity of magic seemed to swing back and forth in a way that didn’t always make sense to me. I won’t go into detail about this (for the sake of spoilers), but it sort of went like this:
- Character A would experience something that would convince them to fear magic and decide that it should be eradicated.
- Character B would then somehow be convinced that magic should be allowed to die out and Character A would convince them it was worth saving. (Even though that wasn’t what they believed not long before.)
- Character A would go back to thinking magic should be eliminated.
This seemed like it happened multiple times (or, at least that the characters waffled on their thoughts and motivations multiple times), and I guess I just didn’t always see clear logic behind why the characters were changing their minds or giving up hope (though there were a few instances where it made perfect sense—there were also some where I felt like I was getting whiplash). This was a relatively small complaint overall, though.
This book is action-packed, and it will send you on an emotional rollercoaster. And then there’s that end—I wish I could talk about the end. It’s just … mind-boggling. I need the next book!
***Disclosure: I received this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Series: Dread Nation #1
on April 3, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Alternate History, Zombies
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing and brief hints at talk of sex, Violence)
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.
I loved this alternate history zombie story! I thought that Ireland did a fantastic job of reimagining the post-Civil War US if the war had ended not because of a clear win by the Union but because humanity had to focus on surviving against a common foe—zombies. Ireland makes us truly think about the treatment of blacks in the US at that time (and even today). Sure, the slaves had been freed, but we see how they are still treated as somehow sub-human and used for the benefit of white people. The exploration of how many religious leaders viewed blacks is especially sad.
Of course, all of this is explored against a backdrop of a fight against zombies. There were times when the book felt a little long and slightly slow to me—slower than I would expect for a book about the zombie apocalypse. There actually isn’t a lot of zombie-fighting action in the story and the conspiracy aspect of the story didn’t always hold my attention. But the overall themes are so timely and important that I found myself wanting to keep reading even when the story slowed down. And I loved Jane, so I was rooting for her all the way.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***