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One Unforgivable Flaw of Tomi Adeyemi’s Novel “Children Of Blood And Bones.”: A Reader’s Opinion

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One Unforgivable Flaw of Tomi Adeyemi’s Novel “Children Of Blood And Bones.”: A Reader’s Opinion by : 4:44 pm On August 8, 2018

When a friend of mine told me about a new African mythical/fantasy novel written by a Nigeria-American that I will love reading, I was curious to lay a finger on it. For one, this friend of mine has a reputation for recommending 100% outstanding books. Then, the idea of infusing African culture (Yoruba culture in particular) in a piece of fiction isn’t one I’ve heard so much about (before Black Panther) I was curious to see how it turns out.

Recently, I finally had my grips on it. What was supposed to be a skimming-scanning session, just to test the landscape of the novel turned into a couple-hours reading session. From the first sentence, I was caught up in the action flying off the pages of the novel, “Children of Blood and Bone.” It seemed it was the book that held me in its grips.Cover Art of Children of Blood and Bones

Tomi Adeyemi makes her debut in the novel writing and it a blast. It was number one on New York Best-seller in the category of young adult fiction, sealed with a seven-figure deal for publication and motion picture adaptation by Fox 2000. I didn’t know any of those before I began reading the book. Curiosity was my driving force, and Adeyemi’s action-packed narrative was my fuel. Her descriptions are striking, powerful enough to create motion pictures in my mind as I read along.

All the characters in “Children of Blood and Bones” are distinct and compelling. I fell in love with Zelie, the main character, right from the first scene. She is immature, impatient and angry at first–she almost got herself and her trainer, Mama Agba, killed when she tried to attack the guards. That was just one of the many encounters she would have with palace guards. As the story unfolds, she literally grows right before my eyes and soon, she finds her grand purpose by being a little variation of what she had been at the beginning of the story–everything immature, impatient and angry.

 

IF THE NOVEL IS THIS GREAT, WHAT THEN IS THE FLAW?

Like every work of fiction, it is never perfect. While I am not the person who will read a book just to criticize it, something keeps getting in my way of fully enjoying Tomi’s masterpiece. Other flaws can be forgiven and neglected.

For instance, I personally think the novel was over-edited. It is fast-paced to a fault. The story could use a few more fathoms of depth. I get that it is young adult fiction and has to be edited that way in other to feed the target audience. Even I can understand that, forgive it and pretend like it didn’t happen. But there’s one thing I couldn’t just wave off.

I stayed awake reading “Children of Blood and Bones” till it was well past midnight of the first I picked up the novel. I got to the place where it describes the ocean beside Illorin. I paused, read the line again wondering what “ocean” in this context meant. Then I got this paragraph:

 

“Perhaps in the future,” I say quietly, praying this small indulgence will not incite Mother’s wrath. “You must love living there—having the sea at your feet and the mountains at your back.”

“It’s just rocks and water”

 

At that point, I thought it was the sleep that was getting to me, so I quietly closed the book and went to bed. Only to wake up the next morning to find out nothing had changed. There is still a sea “at the feet” of Zaria. Zaria, of all places where a sea could be. If Kaduna (the state in which Zaria is located) were a country, it’d be landlocked. It wouldn’t a disadvantage or disempowerment to the country of Kaduna, I would just be one of its attributes.

Maybe “sea” meant something else which I don’t know. That would be a good explanation. But it’s not, and that is unforgivable. Saying there is a sea in Zaria would be like saying the Rocky Mountain is an island in the Pacific ocean with lush vegetation and a marvelously leveled terrain. Terrain so flat that from a distance of five miles, you could spot a roaster picking on a nutritious grain popularly known as sand.

Anyone who knows nothing about the Rocky Mountains will read that and create a mental equivalent of an island with flat surfaces, the exact opposite of what the Rocky Mountains are.

It is fantasy, I agree. That’s why I was willing to let go of the idea that, on horseback, Zelie and her brother, Tzain could take a trip from Illorin to Lagos and return the same day. But when it begins to mess with oceans and seas, I got distracted from the story. The average American reading “Children of Blood and Bones” might have no idea what I’m talking about. It might not matter at all. To those who know the first thing about the geography of Nigeria, it will take a while to get used to reading about seas and oceans in Illorin and Zaria. I’m not saying this because I have a Bachelor’s Degree in geography (which I do, by the way, just completed my studies) it isn’t so hard to figure out what part of Nigeria lies along the coast.

I remember reading Tomi Adeyemi’s interview on Cosmpolitan.com. She mentioned that in the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Africans were displaced. She, Adeyemi, vowed to right the image of African with Children of Blood and Bones. I wonder, has she innocuously committed the same foul she had set out to correct?

 

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