Top critical review
Decent but overhyped
2 April 2019
This was meh.
Don’t get me wrong, I adored the world. I loved the giant creatures, the gods and their corresponding maji clans, the writing style, the links to Nigerian culture and mythology, the geography, the politics, and the roller coaster quest to restore magic. And I will ALWAYS be here for speculative fiction that centres people of colour.
But unfortunately I didn’t love the plot or the characters. The first quarter was super compelling and fast paced, but I lost interest when I realised how this book relies so heavily on convenience. While Adeyemi throws a lot of obstacles at her characters, they barely pose any conflict because they’re solved/escaped from/beaten far too easily.
Perhaps the worst example of this is a scene where the cast are easily outnumbered and facing certain death, but thanks to a handy dandy new character and their crew, things are magically solved off-page in under 7 minutes. The protagonists win yet again without the author even bothering to show us how! It feels like lazy storytelling.
As for the characters, the only one I cared about and felt any genuine connection to didn’t show up until 450 pages through! This book is a multi-perspective story, but all 4 were bland, hollow, tropey characters and were all written in the same voice. Zelie was really fiery and compelling in the first act, but she rapidly lost what makes her *her* as the narrative progressed.
Im so bummed because I really wanted more from this given the incredible hype! If this is a duology I may give the sequel a chance, but if it’s more than two books it’s a no from me. Sigh.