Hello, dear friends! Welcome to my stop on the Hear Our Voices Raybearer tour! I’m so happy to be a part of this event as and I have so many exciting things coming up in this post! First off, I want to say thank you to all the lovely coordinators of this tour—they’ve made everything run so smoothly and put in so much hard work! I also want to thank Hear Our Voices and Amulet Books for going out of their way to make this tour disability accessible and providing me with an advance listener copy of the audiobook. Today I’ll be reviewing that audiobook and I’ve also got some extra content for you in the form of a moodboard and a playlist. So without any further ado, let’s jump right in…
Author: Jordan Ifueko
Publisher: Amulet Books
Narrator: Joniece Abbott-Pratt
Run Time: 13 hours, 48 minutes
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: August 18, 2020
TRIGGER WARNINGS/CONTENT WARNINGS: Emotional abuse from a parent to a child, fire, attempted murder, fade-to-black sex, implied rape (NOTE: If you believe I have failed to include any necessary trigger warnings, please inform me and I will add them)
Synopsis: The epic debut YA fantasy from an incredible new talent—perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir
Nothing is more important than loyalty.
But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?
Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jordan Ifueko is a Nigerian-American author of Young Adult fiction. She stans revolutionary girls and 4C curls. RAYBEARER is her debut novel.
You every read a book that just…gets you? That was Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko. A beautiful story about the importance of diversity and the power of friendship, Raybearer is a great start to what is sure to be an amazing new series! With its measured, yet intriguing plot, lovable characters, and endearing relationships, you could say I fell hard for Raybearer. So let’s take a look at my thoughts…
The Dream Team
I loved the cast of characters in Raybearer and the large focus on friendship and found family! Tarisai is a lovely main character who is compassionate and fair-minded, and I adored seeing her relationships with Dayo, Sanjeet, and Kirah! I also loved that Tarisai’s independence didn’t come at the cost of her close relationships or her community and that as Tarisai grew, her friends never wavered in their love for her. I feel like this was particularly reflective of how many communities of color operate, with more of a focus on the importance of family, friends, and community and their place in your life than most Western cultures. It was nice to see something so reflective of my own cultural backgrounds and life.
It’s The Little Things
When it comes to representation, I think sometimes it’s the little things that can end up mattering most. It’s the tiny, minute details that many people will brush over, not realizing that those seemingly tiny things build and build and build into a larger, far more intricate picture. Ifueko seems to have mastered this skill of adding tiny details of representation which speak volumes. I found myself relating through my Black identity to Tarisai in little ways, like when she spoke about wearing a headscarf to sleep or how her hair had been braided tight and her edges were being pulled or how stories mattered so much to her people that their greatest god was an animal storyteller! And! I loved the symbolic moment when Tarisai took out her braids and let her natural hair loose—#DystopianGirlHaircut who, now? More than just being a symbolic reclaiming of identity within the world of Raybearer, it is also a familiar symbolic experience which parallels that of many real life Black girls when we choose to showcase our African roots by going natural. It was a moment that was beautiful within the story, but which also carried real-world power, as hidden from unknowing eyes as it might be. These seemingly small things made reading Raybearer that much more special and made the book itself one that I’ll remember and treasure long into the future.
A Theme That’s More Than It May Seem
I love the theme of seeing and celebrating diversity vs. forced assimilation that Ifueko wove through the story. It was very reminiscent of the real world scenario of White people saying, “We don’t see color and isn’t that unity and peace?” while many people of color say, “The point is actually to see color, to celebrate all of it in its beauty and treat all as equals in their beautiful colors.” This is the crux of the struggle in Raybearer. Tarisai sees that the Empire’s desire to make everyone the same—to take their traditional music, stories, and names and to “unite” them through assimilation—is a control tactic, and one which is a form of cultural violence at that. There is a line that will stick with me from Raybearer, because Ifueko was able to condense this theme into such an elegant, concise form:
Uniformity is not unity. Silence is not peace.Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
This is a beautiful message, especially for young readers and Ifueko conveys it in such an evocative manner. It’s certainly a theme that I think will stick with readers—I know it will stick with me!
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing…
There was a point towards the end where I felt like the plot kind of came to a pause and there was a MASSIVE info dump. The information was definitely necessary to the story, but I just wish that Tarisai could’ve discovered it in a different manner and/or not all at once. Because the information was given to us all at once in a way that the author was telling us the info instead of showing us, it felt like it lacked power because it felt like Tarisai could’ve easily accessed the info at any point.
The narration of the Raybearer audiobook was absolutely wonderful, with the tone and cadence fitting the story perfectly at every turn! Abbott-Pratt’s voice was very musical and youthful, which fit the characters well, as Tarisa, Dayo, and Kirah are 15 and Sanjeet is 17. Abbott-Pratt’s voice acting also made it easy to distinguish between characters, with each having a fairly unique sound and tone. All in all, I was very satisfied with the narration and with the audiobook as a whole.
Raybearer was a wonderful read, and one that I definitely won’t be forgetting! I hope when it releases, y’all won’t hesitate to get your hands on this worthwhile read! So, that’s all for today, friends. I hope you enjoyed my stop on this tour and that you’ll check out the other stops too. Until next time, friends…
CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE TOUR!
Novelisteer – Review
BookishEnds – Playlist
The Bookwyrm’s Den – Favorite Quotes (IG)
Spill the Tale – Review
Strange She Reads – Vlog Review
Literary Intersections – Favorite Quotes
Nox Reads – Look Book
Noria Reads – Dream Cast
Books Build Life – Video Review