I bring you another set of hyped young adult fantasy books, the first book in the series, I recently read and dying to discuss a little. Will I continue with the series? Let’s see how I feel about them. I am a big young adult fantasy series fan. It does not take much for me to want to continue with a series but I still want to put more thought into my decisions. I also want to be more a more critical reader.
- City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
- The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
- The Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty (The Daevabad Trilogy #1)
The premise and setting of this book sounded awesome. I bet many picked this one up just because of that. For once, we have a world which does not revolve around the oh-so-popular-and-khm-a-bit-overdone-fairy-world-setting. Why am I so obsessed with fairies anyway? But let’s not sidetrack…
The City of Brass is a debut novel. It takes place in An Arabian Night type of world, with djinns, flying carpets, princes and princesses. When I heard of this my mind immediately went to Disney’s Aladdin. I was all in, especially as I haven’t read many Middle Eastern inspired books.
We follow a female protagonist Nahri, a small scale thief and con woman living in what feels like 18th century Cairo. She has a mysterious gift for healing. One day she accidentally summons a djinn warrior, Dara, making her accept a fact she previously vehemently denied, that magic is real.
It turns out that Nahri is special, and as her existence is not a secret anymore, her life is in danger. She must flee with Dara to this mysterious city of Daevabad, where she can be kept safe.
So far so good, but the introduction to this magical city happens quite early and it feels like an eternity before they actually get there. Once there, the author introduces the convoluted politics of a djinn city where six djinn tribes live together with the oppressed shafit (half djinn, half human). Too much was crammed into this first book, but I guess the author needed more world building as not much happened in the first half.
Also, taking an independent and spunky character and turning her into this precious princess (oh, yes, Nahri is a princess) in need of protection kind of annoyed me. Plus making her fall in love with the djinn is also a plot twist I saw coming and did not appreciate.
Nahri doesn’t come into her powers because everyone surrounding her is too overprotective, especially Dara.
The relationship Nahri and Dara had in CoB is unhealthy. Half of the time Dara ignores Nahri. She tries hard to please, too hard if you ask me. Giving yourself up as a person should not happen in any relationship.
The story is told from two perspectives. Nahri’s and the deeply religious, kind-hearted, and well-meaning prince Alizayd’s, who stands at the center of the political intrigue. I liked Alizayd’s character, he cares for the shafit and tried to help improve their lives.
Adding Alizayd as the third main character is OK. He adds depth to the story and his perspective is interesting. The attempt to create a love triangle is another overused plot twist I did not enjoy.
Verdict: Overall, the end was epic and I see how the world will expand in the next installment so I will pick it up.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (The Folk of the Air #1)
Not another faerie story, I tell myself! I will not pick this book up, I tell myself! Yet, what do I do? I pick this book up!
Initially, I decided to skip this book. I saw too many mixed reviews and read too many books with similar premises. I succumbed to the hype as you can tell! What can say? I have a weak spot for fairie books. Was it worth the hype though? I am going to be annoyingly vague and say ‘yes and no’.
Here’s why I think it’s worth the hype. TCP, for me, is a fast and addictive read. In the same way as, in my opinion, Sarah J. Maas’ books are highly problematic and addictive. I tend to devour them in a sitting. Then all I think about are the plot holes and clichés I happily overlooked while reading.
Here is why I felt echoes of Sarah J. Maas’ ACOTAR series in TCP:
- We have a young human female protagonist
- The male protagonist is a dark, handsome and mysterious prince/high lord
- The female protagonist has two sisters
- The male protagonist mistreats the female protagonist but that’s all swept under the rug because – gasps – he suffered from abuse
- Kidnapping the female protagonist. Taking her into the fairy realm where she learns to fend for herself. She Succeeds despite being a weak and mortal human.
- As of now, only book one is out. But if in book two this female human protagonist will somehow be turned into a faerie, I will lose my shit!
Apart from this blatant resemblance, here is the premise of this book.
Jude and has two sisters, Vivienne and Taryn. At the beginning of the book Vivienne’s’s biological father, the brutal general Madoc, kills Jude’s parents. He then steals the sisters away into the faerie realm where they grow up as a big happy family.
Their new home, the High Court of the Faerie, is a dangerous place for humans. The sisters are treated well due to the power and influence of general Madoc. Ten years later Jude seems to have forgotten the brutal demise of her parents. All she wants is to impress the general and to belong. Can she as a mere human with no powers belong though?
The male protagonist is the cruel Prince Cardan, a vicious bully. He does everything to make Jude’s life a living hell. They are all in school so 2/3 of this book feels like a typical teen high school drama.
Jude wants to prove herself worthy of her ‘father’ so she involves herself in court politics. She oddly succeeds due to her ‘diabolical’ mastermind. Having powers and immortality are not important after all. The powerful faerie court will be overturned by a mere human girl. Dreamy!
I wanted to read more about Vivianne. She appears fleetingly throughout the book. All she wants is to escape, even though she is the only one of the sisters who can actually survive in the faerie realm. Vivianne is the only one not wanting to conform and be a nice and dutiful daughter. The only character which felt real!
Overall, the negatives: recycled and predictable plot, vague world-building, and non-realistic the main female character, cliched main male character. The positives: a highly addictive read and the premise for the sequel left me wanting to keep on reading.
Verdict: Will continue reading!
The Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Legacy of Orïsha, #1)
The Children of Blood and Bone (CoBaB) is a young adult fantasy novel inspired by West Africa. In the fictional land of Orïsha a despot rules. He made magic disappear and killed the maji, people who possessed magic.
Our main characters are:
- Zélie, a young diviner (a maji with dormant magic),
- princess Amari feels unsuitable for court life. She is unwilling to be molded into the image of a perfect princess, and
- crown prince Inan, the dutiful and brainwashed puppet prince. He keeps chanting ‘duty before self’.
CoBaB is action-packed and fast-paced. But despite its unique setting too many typical fantasy plot twists are used and at this point, it just seems like sloppy writing. Too predictable, too clichéd, too typical.
The quest here is to bring magic back. Do I have to mention another Sarah J. Maas book here? Seems like I must. Who sees the parallel to Throne of Glass here? Anyway, Zélie and Amari unwillingly partner up. Inan does everything to stop them until he realizes he’s wrong and abruptly switches sides. It does not matter that for most of this book he actively seeks to kill Zélie, because he realizes he was wrong. So all that ‘I want to kill you drama’ is forgotten and swept under the rug. He is a nice guy after all.
I think what killed my enjoyment of this book is the insta-romance. After the following paragraphs on page 66, I was over this book. I don’t know why I kept on reading because it did not get better.
This is where the main characters meet. It is a fight scene and I Zélie and Inan only glance at each other. Here it goes:
‘We’ve almost cleared it when a shock like lightning surges through my veins.
The shock travels through every pore in my skin, igniting my being, catching my breath. Time seems to freeze as I look down, locking eyes with the young captain.
An unknown force burns behind his amber gaze, a prison I can’t escape. Something in his spirit seems to claw onto mine. But before I can spend another second locked in his eyes, Nailah flies over the gate, severing our connection.’
The price doesn’t seem affected and proceeds in his duty to kill her of for most of this book. Duty before self. Like a good well-trained soldier.
I liked that the author drew from her African heritage when building the world and the magic system. I especially appreciated how she included the systemic racism against her people through the oppression, persecution of the maji.
Overall, I see what she wanted to achieve and for a debut, it is an impressive start. But I don’t get the hype and the insta-romance/connection killed this story for me.
Verdict: I will not continue with the series.
I would check out other, non-fantasy books by the author though if she writes any.
The publishing coincided perfectly with the release of the Black Panther. What was the purpose? Was it to create momentum or hype? In the end, both the novel and the movie fell flat for me. Like the perfect stew, it had the best ingredients but sadly lacked salt.Follow me: