What I Just Read: Children of Blood and Bone
By: Josh O'Shea, Young Adult Librarian
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Zélie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.
Thoughts: How did magic disappear from this (imaginary) world? How can it come back?
At its best, fiction takes real life issues, real types of people, and changes their forms to be fantastic so we can see them a little differently. We’re seeing a lot of fantasy books take non-western mythology and create accessible narratives with it. Often, fiction does mirror real life, where answers aren’t straightforward or aren’t even given. Children of Blood and Bone pulls us in, increases our heart rates, and makes us gasp. It’s not fun; it’s wondrous. We can draw analogies from its characters and situations without making those characters and situations into cardboard allegories.
Like the Black Panther film, Children of Blood and Bone brings alive a type of African folklore. It brings front and center ideas of race. Although the group of people who are oppressing aren’t explicitly white, it doesn’t take a large imaginative leap to see it as such. It shows us people who are real, who deal with fear, who need to control their tempers, and who have loving relationships with their sibling under pressure.
A central theme the characters struggle with is how the individual fits within the group. One character learns her fighting impulse can propel her people to liberation, as long as she stops picking fights that end up being barriers in her way. We have another character repeat his tyrannical father’s mantra in his head — duty before self — and we yell “Change your duty!” at the book when we see him thinking his duty means to destroy and enslave. We can see how a real, flawed young woman struggles with putting her prowess and love for her family into working to rebuild her culture and bring magic back to the magic users. We also see a broken, hurting young man learn that his personal experiences can change the definitions of his duty.
No one knows the “right” thing to do, and no decision is without heavy consequences. This is an excellent adventure novel laced with ethical dilemmas. Read it.Tags: teens, What I Just Read