History of me reading this book:
I first read this at the beginning of 2017. I thought the book was just an alright read and had many issues with it. After rereading it at the beginning of 2018, I realized that I did 2 main things wrong when I first read this book:
1. I read it too fast the first time.
The first time I read this book I was all gung-ho about reading books faster and getting a big jump on my Goodreads challenge. I remember reading the majority of this book in two sittings and I missed a lot because I was trying to read it too quickly.
2. Outside circumstances with Twitter and Trump being elected really didn’t put me in the correct headspace when I read this book. During that time Twitter was highly toxic. Reviewers were attacking authors, authors were attacking reviewers, everyone was a political expert, and there was just a large sense of being critical of everything. Even though a lot of these individuals were in the right, the way they went about doing it really impacted my mindset coming into this book. I was highly critical of the characters in The Obelisk Gate as far as their actions and found flaws in their reasoning. I was already in the defensive and critical mode before I even opened up the book’s first page.
Reading this book now, when I’m in a much better mental state, has been great. I absolutely fell in love with this series again. These are imperfect characters doing their best to stay alive. Do I still have reservations about Alabaster’s reasoning for creating the Season? Yes, I do, and probably always will unless the logic is more solid in the third book, but it doesn’t bother me as much as it once did. I understand the world so much better because I read the book slower this time.
I’ve learned through this that sometimes books work at one time but not at another. I also learned that even though you disliked a book the first time you tried to read it doesn’t mean it won’t be amazing the second time. I also learned that I am highly susceptible to being a moody reader and that social media triggers that moodiness. That is one reason that throughout last year I really changed how I used social media and am a much calmer person.
Anyway, great book, can’t wait to read the third book. I kept my prior review as an archive of my journey with this book.
17/25 Possble Score
3 – Plot
4 – Characters
4 – World Building
3 – Writing Style
3 – Heart and Mind Aspect
Original first review:
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin sees the shift of the trilogy change from the characters in The Fifth Season to a mostly world building story in The Obelisk Gate and I’m a bit disappointed that it did. That isn’t the only shift we have, there is a large shift in the type of story that is being told. The Fifth Season was a fantasy book that encompassed a large portion of the land in the story, meeting many different people, and explored the world in a more traditional sense. The Obelisk Gate was rather rooted in place, mostly in two comms, and the story became more of a post-apocalyptic survival novel. I was a bit disappointed with this shift in narrative, as I wanted to learn more about the Fulcrum, the leadership of various cities, and be introduced to many more characters. I guess I didn’t really take The Fifth Season seriously enough about what Alabaster did to the continent and this book ended up being a slight disappointment for me. It was just an alright read with some serious flaws that I couldn’t overlook.
As I mentioned above, this was more of a world-building book. The Fifth Season pushed the story along with its characters while this book pushed the story along with the revelation of answers. These answers came in a way that I didn’t expect from N.K. Jemisin, in a very infodump heavy way. It almost seemed like Alabaster’s presence in this story was just to tell Essun the info about the world and the magic. There is a section in this story where Alabaster is basically telling Essun everything. While reading it I was excited about some revelations but after it was told I couldn’t help but think it was done in a rushed, hurried way, that created some possible logic errors in my understanding of this world. I would have much preferred if we got that information from an Alabaster point of view chapter about what happened when he disappeared from Meov.
That is the main crux of The Obelisk Gate, there are just too many coincidences, and logic errors. After reading this, I can’t help but believe that the world was better off without Alabaster and Essun. The two of them are genocidal murderers. Alabaster’s reasoning for starting the fifth season is to possibly end all the seasons, in other words, kill a bunch of people now, to possibly stop the cycle of seasons later. This is the same reasoning that most war criminals use to do unspeakable mass murder in our world. Essun is barely better, she is walking destruction. If you are a community near where Essun is, you should just leave now before she kills you all. Sure, she protects those that are important to her but then does the equivalent of a drone attack on entire villages. Are we being duped by Jemisin? Are our main characters actually the villains? I’m all for anti-heros but we need them to be dealing with their demons. They need to be trying to do better not progressively getting worse. I want to see some REGRET.
Essun and Nassun have some serious mental health issues that are being ignored. Essun won’t deal with the things that happened to her in the past and instead lashes out in anger constantly. Then there is Nassun, who I just feel sorry for. I couldn’t take her storyline seriously because it was too coincidental that the one place they needed to go under really flimsy reasoning(Jija knowing about some place that heals roggas) was the one place where Schaffa is. I also couldn’t take her seriously because she knew her father killed Uche but still wanted to trust her father and then she has the emotional maturity to manipulate her father later on. If she had the emotional maturity to manipulate her father into not hurting her, I feel like she was mature enough to know to get away from the abusive situation. I just feel so sorry for her as a child because she is constantly abused and just wants love. Now she is turning into a weapon with little care for human life. Her storyline is just depressing.
I know this is just a fantasy/post-apocalyptic novel but the lack of empathy by all the characters towards other people just drained me. There is a lot of hate towards orogenes in this book and we are supposed to feel like we should be tolerant towards these individuals, that it is unfair for people to be so prejudiced against them, but I can’t help feel that they bring a lot upon themselves. The orogenes are the reason for the fifth seasons, probably the shattering, they kill hundreds of people easily, wipe towns off the face of the earth, and I just can’t get behind them. In fact, I think having the Fulcrum, giving guidance to these powerful individuals and control, stopping quakes from happening, is a smart thing to do. Why destroy all that for a possible myth/folklore like story about Father Earth and the moon?
I just wanted one character to be the voice of reason in this series. One person to say, “Defending ourselves is fine, but what you are doing is going too far.” Someone to say, “Let’s try to figure out a better way to fix things than killing thousands of people.” Hoa could have been that character and I still think he is the best chance at being the hero this story needs. I’ll probably still read the third book, just to see how Jemisin wraps things up and justifies some of the actions taken by our characters, but I’m not as excited for it as I was for this one. Also, having multiple second person voices was just confusing and unneeded. There are some serious logic errors about what the narrator knows now that it is confirmed who the narrator is.
2/5 – Just O.K.
10/25 Possible Score
2 – Plot
2 – Characters
3 – World Building
2 – Writing Style
1 – Heart & Mind Aspect
Stats: Total Read Time: 9h 9m, minutes per page: 1.3, pages per hour: 44.5