The City We Became

I sing the city.

The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin, Orbit 2020

I keep giving N.K. Jemisin chances, to sound delightfully dramatic. Like they care. I mostly care because on paper (heh) she’s got everything I desire, but the click continued to miss. This time the click was loud. A bit delayed, but loud all the same.

In The City We Became there’s cities that come alive and people that are cities, multiple dimensions (a bit like an onion, but maybe more like a pastry), human beings (bigotry) being the scariest enemy and oh sh- is that a Cthulhu reference?

It’s like Jemisin inhaled all that I love (close to reality, eerie as hell, new ideas with familiar roots) and coughed up this creation written so well that I was worried about this not being fiction at all. I don’t want her to be the person showing us behind the matrix.

Only downside? “This first part of a trilogy”.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

I AM NOT AS I ONCE WAS.

I’m so glad I gave this author another chance. The Fifth Season may have been a bridge too far or simply not the right book at the right time (when you read so many books, sometimes it’s weird to accept that you can’t ‘crack’ one right away), but girl, was The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms the cool, easy accessible fantasy you just might need.

With accessible I mean that the story line is (mostly) chronological, the lines drawn between good and evil are (mostly) clear and that the world building takes enough of a back seat to not confuse you about which surroundings you’re supposed to read a situation in.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms starts with an unlikely hero, a young woman brought to the royal family. But instead of letting her work her way through the fitting tropes, N.K. Jemisin quickly turns it around, and keeps adding little turns to the regular ideas.

What I really liked was the mythology used, and although this is the reason that does make the book less clean cut towards the end, by then you’ll be too enamored to want to give up.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin, Hatchette Book Group 2010

The Fifth Season

Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we?

I’m pretty sure I don’t understand what kind of story I just finished. Not understanding like getting it, because half way in, I was pulled in. No, I’m just confused, lost. In over my head.

N.K. Jemisin is one of those authors I just really wanted to try once, and with no clear recommendations, any start anywhere is a good one.

For a long time, I wasn’t sure if this book was the right start. There’s no bright, light, breezy flow to The Fifth Season, and as every end-of-the-world book, it makes me go down the road of uncomfortable what-ifs. There is a lot of world and society and people to learn off, and when you feel like you might have a grip, Jemisin starts turning things. It almost feels like a point and click game, one where wander into bonus levels unwittingly (is this a flashback? A flashforward? What am I reading here?).

The Fifth Season is definitely at home in the category of epic fantasy, fantasy that has been invested in and that might stick with you for years to come. And like the most epics, it needs a bit of you to work out. After the first 200 pages I was glad I didn’t plan on reading more of it (it’s part of a series), after the second 200 I decided I was curious for more, but after a breather.

The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin, Orbit 2015