A week ago I wrote a post that was not a book review of The Star-Touched Queen. On a similar vein, this isn’t a book review of The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin. And if you can’t figure out why I’m suddenly (not) reviewing books, it’s all explained here.
The Obelisk Gate is the second book in the Broken Earth series, and almost anything I can say about the plot will be a spoiler for the first book, so I won’t say anything.
My reaction to The Obelisk Gate as a reader vs as a writer
I’ve started to appreciate different things in a book since I began writing seriously, and The Obelisk Gate really hammered this home.
The writer half of me, whom I’ll call Sebastian, was all starry-eyed over The Obelisk Gate. He was in awe of the power of its voice and the mastery over language it demonstrates.
He tells me approximately two books ever have pulled off second person, and this is one of them.
Sebastian marvelled at the depth and complexity of the story world, and felt jealous because he will never write like this.
Don’t feel too bad on his behalf, because he is a bit of a prat. He admires literary books (though they bore him to death) and will rarely admit to enjoying a book.
I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin years ago, before Sebastian was born, and thought it was a solid, enjoyable read. But it wasn’t brilliant.
According to Sebastian, The Broken Earth series is brilliant. Hey, I guess that’s why The Fifth Season won the Hugo Award.
Comparing The Obelisk Gate with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Sebastian got a thrill from seeing how another writer has developed over the years. It gives him hope for the future and, being a dour fellow, he needs all the hope he can get.
The reader half of me, whom I’ll call Rain, enjoyed The Obelisk Gate and barely noticed some chapters were written in second person.
Before I go any further, no you don’t get to be upset with me for my choices of name or gender for my reader and writer halves. I don’t think only men should write and only women should read. I also don’t think all aspects of me have to be female just because I’m female. (I took an online gender test once and it told me I was 73% male, but that’s another story.)
Back to not reviewing The Obelisk Gate.
Rain was lukewarm about most of the characters. They live in a hard world and accordingly they’re hard people, but they’re also serious, ruthless, and generally not a whole lot of fun to hang out with.
Sure, the world has ended, but is that a reason not to joke and have a good time? I think that would be a pretty good reason to joke–the world will be dark for a thousand years and you’re all going to die.
But different people react differently to the apocalypse.
Rain is tugging at my arm. She says she did enjoy the book and I’m just projecting the idea that all books need a bit of lighthearted fun. In fact, she wants to drag Sebastian and me to Amazon right now to look for the sequel.
And one gripe
It probably says something about the quality of the book that as soon as I finished reading it I went to Amazon to see if the sequel had been released (with Rain and Sebastian, of course). I found the sequel. It’s called The Stone Sky, and it’s coming out… August 2017. Argh!
I’m not one of these people who doesn’t start reading a book until the whole series has been released (please don’t do this, because if too many people do it then the end of the series will never be published), but I still spit poison darts when I want to read a book and it hasn’t been released.
So if you want to read an impressive fantasy trilogy I do recommend The Broken Earth series, just be prepared to wait for book 3.
Have you read these books? What did you think? Or if you haven’t, do you now feel inspired to?
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