I’m breaking one of my rules. I’m reviewing a single book in a series – Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. This is because the second book (Children of Virtue and Vengeance ) isn’t out yet. So I can’t review the whole series. And I need to talk about this book.
I’ve had this book on my radar since I saw the bit about “women writers are automatically YA” and the falsehood this entails. I have to 1000% agree – this is NOT a YA book. At least not in the “sure, 14-year-olds can read” level YA. Maybe 18. Definitely 20. And although I might consider 20 “young adult” – that isn’t what the market actually says (12-18 is pretty standard).
This books hits hard on some deep, serious, and difficult topics. Genocide. Trauma. Blood Magic. Torture. Adeyemi doesn’t toe around these topics lightly, she drags you into them in such a way that you wonder where the door was and how she got you through it.
I wasn’t halfway through the book when I began mentally casting the movie. As I was preparing to write this review, I found out – they are working on a movie!! There aren’t exactly spoilers below – but there are hints!
So I knew immediately, I want Letitia Wright to play Zélie (the protagonist). She’s supposed to be dark with white hair, tall and skinny and “powerful” but not physically powerful. Letitia fits the bills perfectly physically and what I’ve seen of her I think she has the acting skill to bring the kind of emotional depth Zélie needs.
Amari is harder. She’s supposed to be “copper skinned” but then I saw a picture of Amanda Stenberg (who played Rue in Hunger Games) and went HER. I WANT HER. She has the perfect mix of innocence and strength. She showed in Hunger Games she has depth – and the movies she’s been in since…. yup she might make Amari better than the book (personally, I liked Amari better than the Inan, but she could do with a little…. something)
Now, we need an Inan. A copper-skinned prince. Well, I think Jaden Smith has the acting chops and might be able to do it, but…. I don’t know something just isn’t “perfect” about him for the role. We need someone who can make the role like Michael B. Jordan did in Black Panther. I don’t know if Smith could do that. Seriously, you have to be able to make a character who can be villain and sympathetic at the same time – that isn’t easy! (he isn’t entirely a villain in the book, but he ain’t a good guy either!!) Honestly, Inan needs someone who make his sometimes incomprehensible logic make a little more sense.
The true villain needs to be clearly King Saran. And this one was easy for me actually. I want Daniel Kaluuya – physically intimidating and the ability to pull off the level of subdued crazy King Saran needs.
Otherwise I really want Whoopi Goldberg for Mama Agba (I think). I want Xavier Woods for Tzain (he’s too old technically, but he’s so perfect in size, style, etc!). I want Sanaa Lathan for Zélie/Tzain’s mother.
The book wasn’t perfect. Inan frustrated me the most of the four main characters. I wish we had gotten an occasional Tzain chapter with his thought of his place in this. It felt like everyone else was “called” to the journey and he was only there because he was told he needed to be. I wanted more.
So that’s my casting for this movie-from-a-book. I hope the real casting directors can do at least as well. I have high hopes – this book could make an excellent movie. But it’s going to be challenging. CHALLENGING.