“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. it was thinking we’d never fight back”
Eleven years ago Zelie saw her mother’s lifeless body hanging from a tree. It was the night when the magic disappeared from Orisha. It was the night of the bloody Raid, when soldiers, under the command of a king terrified of maji’s powers, murdered all of them, leaving alive only the ones who did not yet reach the age of thirteen.
Since that night Zelie’s life has never been the same. Every day is filled with dread of violent soldiers, of hateful people, of increasing taxes, of being sold into slavery. But everything changes when one day Zelie stumbles upon a terrified girl in the market.
The prose is very simple, but beautiful. By the writing style alone, I would have never guessed that this was a debut novel.
I think that this book should have 2 POVs instead of 3. I think Amani’s was almost completely unnecessary, because since the moment she left the castle almost all she did was recap the things that Zelie’s chapters already established.
I really liked the magic system, I thought it was very interesting and it made me think about Avatar: The Last Airbender. But it was written in a very inexperienced way. It was completely unclear and inconsistent. Nothing was ever really explained, so the reader is just forced to sit back and accept everything that happens without questioning.
Wow, where do I even start.
I didn’t like any of the characters, with the exception of one person who appeared on maybe 3 or 4 pages. They are written in a very inconsistent way, they don’t really have a well-defined personality or morals. The author just makes them do things for the shock value, not bothering with making sure if it suits their character or not.
And the romance in this book was terrible. It absolutely lacked substance. The characters hated each other and 3 pages later they were in love. Absolutely no development. That’s not how enemies to lovers trope works!
Also, there were no reason at all for the characters to be in love, other than for the angst of it. They had no chemistry, and to be completely honest, they didn’t have enough interactions with each other to warrant forming a friendship, let alone to fall in love.
And I am still salty about Amani not being a lesbian. She was sending me major gay vibes and I was ready for some cute f/f romance and this book just spat in my face.
I liked the very beginning and the very end of this book. But everything in the middle was simply disappointing. It was a mashup of everything I have already read in a 100 different YA fantasy books. Nothing was original or surprising. I was simply frustrated for most of the time.
I like the idea of this book. I like what it was trying to do. I loved the message behind it. How it showed oppression and racism, the prejudice and inequality that resonates so hard with the world we are living it. I just think that the execution was really poor.