Book Drama: Nora Roberts & Tomi Adeyemi

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It seems as though there’s so much drama happening in the book community lately.

I wanted to take a moment to talk about the latest, involving the author of one of my favorite books of 2018: Tomi Adeyemi, author of Children of Blood and Boneand Nora Roberts, a prolific and well-known author that you’ve probably heard of.

A few days ago, I was wasting time on Instagram when I came across Adeyemi’s Instagram story about Nora Roberts’ new book, Of Blood and BoneAdeyemi was upset because she felt that Roberts had plagiarized the title and cover of her book. She spent several stories fuming about this, and also posted the following on Twitter:

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Since then, Adeyemi posted this:

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As of the time of this writing on December 3, Tomi Adeyemi appears to have deleted the tweets directed at Nora Roberts. The above tweet is a pretty pathetic apology if it can even be called that. Adeyemi has been quiet on the topic since November 28th.

I’ve never read any of Nora Roberts’ books, so I cannot claim to be a fan, but Roberts released a perfect statement on her website later on the 28th, which you should go and read in its entirety, but I’ll highlight a bit of it here:

I have worked my entire career to build a foundation of professionalism, of teamwork with my publisher, to create a community with other writers, and to show readers I value them–not just with communication, but by doing my best to give them good books.

No one who knows me would believe any of these accusations. But that’s the problem. Those making them don’t know me, they simply lash out because they can.

This foolish and false statement has damaged my reputation. Vicious and ugly accusations and names have been tossed at me when I did nothing but write and title a book.

While this writer issued a kind of retraction after I reached out to her, it didn’t stop some of her readers from calling me a liar, and worse. We reached out again, asking her to put out the fire.

I want to say a few things about this entire fiasco:

First, it’s hard to plagiarise a title. There are billions of published books in the world, and a lot of them have very similar or even exactly the same titles. It happens all the time. As Roberts correctly put it in her statement, you cannot trademark or own a book title. It’s a ridiculous thing to call someone out on. The only thing that matters is the story, and while I would 100% support an author for being angry about their story being plagiarized, I cannot support Adeyemi’s accusation.

Second, I feel that Tomi Adeyemi handled the entire situation in an entitled, petty, unprofessional, and childish way. If she suspected that Roberts had stolen her idea, she should have contacted Roberts privately or brought up the matter with her agent. Calling someone out publicly on social media before knowing for sure if it was copied is un-called for and completely unfair.

Third, anyone that wrote Nora Roberts angry emails or left nasty comments on any of her websites or platforms should be ashamed of themselves. There’s no reason to add more hate to the internet than there already is, and it’s really low to direct so much hate to an author (or anyone else) without hearing their side of the story or having any proof. The same goes for anyone that has written angry messages to Adeyemi. Stop spreading so much hate.

I’m really conflicted about this entire situation. Children of Blood and Bone is one of the best books I’ve read in 2018, and one of my favorite young adult fantasy novels of all time. That said, right now, I’m hesitant about reading or purchasing the sequel unless she issues a public apology to Roberts.

I’m usually a fan of separating the art from the artist with authors that are long-dead, but with something current like this, I don’t wish to support authors who put forth unwarranted hate.  I can’t say for certain if I’ll read Adeyemi’s sequel in January or not, because I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the entire situation, but it definitely made me respect her less as a person.


What’s your take on the current book drama? Leave your comments below.

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Book

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi; great books to read; best books of 2018; read yourself happy; book review; book blog

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Amazon | Goodreads
Published by Henry Holt, part of Macmillan Publishing Group
Released: March 6, 2018
Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.

What It Is

This high fantasy novel based on West African mythology follows the story of Zelie Adebola as she tries to bring magic back for her people, the magi, or Diviners. She travels alongside her brother, Tzain, and a new friend, the princess Amari.

The land of Orisha was once full of magic. When Magi came of age, they learned to control a particular type of magic, such as life and death (Reapers), health and disease (healers and cancers), iron and earth (grounders and welders) and mind, spirit, and dreams (connectors), among many others.

One day all of the magic disappeared, and the lives of the Magi became one of terror and repression. King Saran has a personal vendetta toward the Magi, and everything changed the day of his Raid.

Many magi were murdered on that day. Magic was effectively erased. Zelie watched her own mother dragged out of their home and hung in a tree. Diviners now live in fear, walking on eggshells around the king’s soldiers. They are easily spotted by their stark white hair, making them easy targets for harassment and extortion.

One day, soldiers threaten Zelie’s family, demanding a tax much too high for them to pay. Zelie comes up with the idea of selling a prize fish her father had caught, and she and Tzain take off towards the palace despite the dangers. Everything seems to go according to plan: Zelie ends up getting much more than she was expecting for the fish, and she’s safely on her way out of the gates when a terrified girl grabs her by the arm, asking for help escaping the soldiers.

Little does Zelie know that she’s helping the King’s daughter, Princess Amari. Amari has taken one of the three necessary objects that could bring magic back, an ancient scroll. As Zelie, Amari, and Tzain flee for their lives, Amari’s brother, Inan, chases after them.

Despite making it all the way back to their village, their safety is short-lived, as Inan and his soldiers follow them to the village. Zelie, Tzain, and Amari escape into the forest, on a journey to save magic before the solstice, the last chance to give magic back to the people of Orisha.

“As it fades, I see the truth – in plain sight, yet hidden all along. We are all children of blood and bone. All instruments of vengeance and virtue. This truth holds me close, rocking me like a child in a mother’s arms. It binds me in its love as death swallows me in its grasp.” 

The journey they undertake is a long and dangerous one, and full of much tragedy. The story is told through multiple narratives, passing seamlessly between Zelie, Amari, and Inan.

My Thoughts

Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel is easily one of the best books I’ve read in years. Saying I loved it is an understatement – when I read the last sentence my jaw literally dropped and I needed more. There’s already a sequel (and a movie) in the works, but I don’t know how I’m going to make it that long.

More than anything, this novel is about strength. So many of the characters, despite their flaws, are strong-willed and brave. Whereas most novels portray strength as a one-dimensional attribute, Adeyemi writes about real strength; a strength that is hard, sacrificial, and requires practice.

“Like a bee to honey, my eyes find the akofena first, the crossed blades, the swords of war. Strength cannot always roar, she said that day. Valor does not always shine. My eyes drift to the akoma beside the swords next, the heart of patience and tolerance.”

One of my favorite things about this novel was the magic system. Individual magi control a single aspect of magic, each with their own deity. Our main character, Zelie, is a reaper, a member of the Iku Clan, and her particular deity is Oya. Zulaikha, or Zu, is a healer, a member of the Iwosan clan, whose diety is Babaluaye. It’s refreshing to see a system of magic where it’s broken down in that way, allowing for a wide variety of unique characters.

The way the book was written was also something I really enjoyed. Each chapter is told from the perspective of either Zelie, Amari, or Inan, though the narrative itself is continuous. I love reading each character’s thoughts, and each of them is so well-developed. They each have distinct flaws, tastes, and strengths. There are two perspectives that I would have loved to have seen alongside theirs, both Tzain and King Saran.

Tzain is Zelie’s brother and her protector. He clearly loves his family but is also quite frustrated at Zelie’s actions (particularly at her choice of love interest later in the story). I think it would have been really interested to understand his thoughts throughout their journey.

Although King Saran is a character that is very easy to despise, a part of me wishes that his own narrative had been woven into the story. I’m always intrigued by the thoughts and motivations of villains.

There’s also a note from the author at the end of the book, about Adeyemi’s motivations for writing the book.

“Children of Blood and Bone was written during a time where I kept turning on the news and seeing stories of unarmed black men, women, and children being shot by the police. I felt afraid and angry and helpless, but this book was the one thing that made me feel like I could do something about it. I told myself that if just one person could read it and have their hearts or minds changed, then I would’ve done something meaningful against a problem that often feels so much bigger than myself.” 

Since finishing the book, I’ve been looking more into Tomi Adeyemi, and she seems genuinely amazing. Here’s a great, short interview with her on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon:

About the Author:

Tomi Adeyemi, author, Children of Blood and Bone

Tomi Adeyemi graduated from Harvard with an honors degree in English literature, and aside from being a New York Times bestselling author, is also a writing coach.

Verdict

5 out of 5 stars, easily. I want to recommend this book to absolutely everybody. My boyfriend is probably incredibly tired of hearing about it, and I’ve told pretty much everyone that sits around me at work that they should get a copy.

Buy this book. It’s the kind of book that you read many times throughout the years. I finished it two days ago, and I’m so starved for more that I’m having to force myself to read other books rather than just rereading this one.

October TBR

It’s finally October! I love this month so much. Pumpkin everything, the leaves changing color, spooky stuff everywhere, cooler weather… there’s just so much to love. The fall is a time when I always feel rejuvenated and at my happiest.

Since it’s the first day of the month, that means it’s time to put together my TBR list for the month. I doubt I’m going to be able to get through everything on the list, but I am certainly going to try! I also have a habit of picking up books on a whim, so expect this list to change a little.

Currently Reading:

Want to Read:

And then also, a healthy dose of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.

What are you planning on reading this month?


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Header image thanks to Elke Bürgin on Unsplash