1.5/5 – DNF at 40%
Now, I didn’t expect to write this review.
Don’t you love it when I say that? It either means that I enjoyed a book I didn’t think I would or I didn’t like a book I thought I would. This time, it’s the latter. After seeing all the great reviews of this book, I didn’t like this one.
Despite that, I do have some positives. And I want to start the review off with those.
The diversity in this was great. An African culture that had black characters leading the path. I love it. I want more of it. I look forward to there being more of it. I also enjoyed the nod to other cultures having influenced this one — I’m rather sure Spain, the UK, and Portugal were mentioned in passing as having magic that destroyed them — which then brings in the color issue where light-skinned black people are more valued.
So, I enjoyed that.
Then, the stuff I didn’t like. Aka, the rest of the book.
First, I thought the characters were flat. While I saw a whole lot of promise, they just didn’t jump off the page for me. They felt like any other character I’d read in any other YA fantasy. The firecracker lead girl who’s tough and can’t keep her mouth shut. The protective, older brother character. The sheltered girl who still knows too much about the world. The conflicted boy who is trying to be the man he isn’t and is finding his weakness.
They didn’t feel real. They felt like those archetypes.
Second, the world. I was super excited since I’m familiar with Yoruba culture and, more specifically, the Yoruba religion. Super excited. And then I realized it was loosely based off of that. There was no context to the world. I felt like it was half-formed and there were concepts being thrown in and I’m sitting there like “Where the hell did that come from??”
I love a book that challenges me, but I don’t like a book that sets it up for me to fail while I struggle.
Third, the plot. It just felt like any other plot I’ve read. Kind of as I said about the characters, I felt like I was going down the same well-trodden path without anything new. Sure, the world was different and unique, but it still felt the same. And then I could tell what was happening and where it was going.
Fourth, I hated that it was all in first person with three different POVs. It’s all “I, I,I” and I have to try and keep track of who’s talking, which pulled me out of the story. A story I was already struggling to get into because I couldn’t connect with the characters and the world was just all over the place and the plot didn’t interest me.
Perhaps it would have gotten better if I continued, but it just felt like a half-finished book to me. A very long half-finished book. So, I set it down. I loved the diversity in it, but didn’t like the finished product.