CBB was exactly what I hoped it would be! YA fantasy is one of my favorite things to read, as it gives me the most reliably pleasurable and simple reading experience. However, my main critique is that it is often too white. Recently, there have been a lot more authors of color writing in the genre, expanding what’s available for people to read. IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. This is vital to share with our youth, diverse reads in every genre. CBB is perfect because not only are the vast majority of the characters POC, but they are also exploring West African mythology in such a beautiful way.
The main cast of characters consists of two pairs of siblings, fighting to save their kingdom. Zelie is a diviner, meaning she’s a young maji who does not yet have her magic. Zelie’s brother is not a diviner, just a commoner, but he loves his sister and will do anything to protect her, even if it means leaving his home behind. Amari and Inan are the children of the king, and have lived their lives in the castle, following whatever orders the king gives them, including orders that may hurt each other. Unfortunately, magic has been taken away from the kingdom by the tyrant king, but what Zelie discovers may give her a chance to bring magic back for good. However, if she fails in her quest, magic may just be lost forever.
“Maybe if she realized my world is falling apart, she’d find the heart to forgive.”
The sibling relationships in these books are complicated. The question of what a healthy relationship is comes up again and again, as these teens take on a quest that seems destined for failure. Adeyemi is great at showing the continuously changing group dynamics in a realistic light.The relationship between Amari and Zelie is so good. I cannot rave enough about their relationship, and I love that it has such a rocky start.
Adeyemi’s writing is perfect for this story. She (seemingly) effortlessly weaves together the epic world building with her important messages to readers. Her motivation and message fit with the US political climate without feeling too overt. She is able to clearly show the worth of oppressed people, give them a way to fight back and show why it is important that they not just work within the system, but really fight back until they have rights. She’s showing readers that it’s not only okay to be different, but we should treasure and value those who are different. She’s writing this book to give voice to oppressed people, particularly people of color, and in the hopes that other people not understanding what it means to be oppressed can hopefully learn to empathize a little more.
Not to mention her one liners are superb. Many of the sentences are dripping with gorgeous descriptions that make me want to crawl into their world and live there forever. I can already see that this series will have a cult following, and deserves it. I cannot wait for the sequel.
“I am not the little girl he knows. I am a princess. A queen. I am the Lionaire.”