Honestly, I don't know how to review this book. My emotions are everywhere after finishing this book, and as much as I wanted to write something comprehensive, I doubt that'll happen. I was first introduced to this story from a sampler arc at a Feirce Reads author breakfast at Bookcon 2017. I didn’t know Tomi Adeyemi. I didn’t know that I would love her story, of her quirky attitude. But then I did. Finally I got an arc and got to meet her again at New York Comic Con 2017 and I loved her even more from the conversation we had about the story there. I fell In love with this story by first finding one of my new favorite authors. And a new favorite story followed close behind. Tomi has stated time and time again that this is a story inspired by her West-African heritage, which seeps through the writing and the world and the atmosphere she creates.
It's an all black cast of characters. All black.
Let's take a moment. It's rare, if ever barely seen. It’s something I have never seen. And even if it's out there, those stories do not get the same type of exposure as books with an all-white cast of characters. And the fact that this book was an insight into her world and that it is so hyped now, makes me so goddamn elated. Now I know what you might think, I am a white, middle class woman. But I am also a minority, who is passionate about diversity. It’s SO important. This book was so important, and I am so stunned that it is getting the publicity and the fame it deserves. I absolutely LOVED that aspect of the novel and that it was a fantasy novel as well. It was a shock in the best way possible. Since it did surprise me, I reflected on myself and the books that I've read since I was a child. I think it goes to show how I, as a reader, have become accustomed to seeing white characters, the white narrative to the point where if characters of different backgrounds are included, it stands out and is notable.
I hope for the day diversity becomes the norm in novels and is celebrated in our world. Thankfully, the publishing world is slowly changing as well. Books like these absolutely need to be supported and published more and become more accessible to readers, especially in this current climate, where empathy should be a more common trait. Books like these expose us to other worlds, other faiths and races, general differences that exist within us, and reinforces the idea that difference is good. Difference is what this world is about and what should be accepted, without any qualms.
As for the story, it is heavily political, focusing on themes of class, race, oppression, privilege and police brutality and she does not shy away from violence. I love that Adeyemi did that; write a YA fantasy novel that looks at our modern reality and infuse those issues in a story, giving readers a glimpse into the reality of being black or a minority. And on top of it, built this in depth fantasy world that took me to all sorts of other places. The magic was fantastic and ridiculously fascinating. Rather than expanding on it, I'll leave it out for you to find out. It is gorgeous. This book was phenomenal, and so magical. The plot was deliciously fast-paced and had me on the edge of my seat, especially towards the end of the book. I was excited to pick the book up each time I put it down.
And the characters!!!
I want to go back and read this book again! I'm so excited to see how this story will develop. The second I finished this (500 page book in literally no time may I add) I looked at it and went “Okay, wheres book 2?” Tomi Adeyemi is a force to be reckoned with, and I am SO excited to watch her journey from the begining! Everybody needs to read this book. Everybody!
This was my favorite book of 2018, can't wait to see whats going to try and top this this year.