The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The Obelisk Gate is the second book in N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy, and my feelings on this one are more mixed than my feelings about The Fifth Season – which is really saying something, considering how mixed my views of the first book were. Fortunately, my final overwhelming feeling was somewhat clearer than my feelings towards the first book – I was not crazy about this story.
With The Fifth Season I spent the majority of the book in a strange state where I was equally loving and loathing the story I was reading. With The Obelisk Gate, I spent the majority of the book in the latter category. I may not have been crazy about book one, but the ending left me with the belief there was quite a bit of potential. Thus, I went into book two with hopes of my views on the series being changed. Evidently, such did not happen. Instead of being thrown into a story that sucked me in deep, I was thrown into a story that bored me more than it should have. I feel as though I spent most of the novel wading through information dumps and events I did not care for. I understand the importance of both, but it failed to make the story interesting to me, it did not leave me invested in things at all.
Following on from the first book, we dig deeper into the interesting world building. There were some interesting new facts introduced, some things became clear, yet, as I’ve already stated, there was a lot of information dumping throughout. The world continued to grow, but it did so in a manner that was not as interesting as it could have been. I could have been handed a list of bullet points and developed the world in a much quicker manner, potentially with more enjoyment. Slightly more interesting was the way the characters grew in this one. Things were opened up that leave us intrigued about some of the storylines, but it was not the at the rate it could have been.
In many ways, this book suffers from second book syndrome. I find in trilogies one of two things happen with the second book. What happens most often is the second book is a filler, the least interesting of the series. Alternatively, the second book can be the best book in a trilogy. The second rarely happens, but it occasionally does. This happens most often with trilogies, but can be seen in longer series – whereby the second book either leaves a person questioning a series or nothing ever lives up to it. Hence, second book syndrome – a make or break disease, especially for trilogies. With The Obelisk Gate, we have the filler book that crashed: I went in expecting something, only to be given very little.
I think another thing that made this one hard to enjoy was the storytelling. I wasn’t crazy about the manner of storytelling in the first book, yet I found it more annoying in this second book. The regular changing of perspective annoyed me. I felt as though the book was trying too hard to be smart, only to come across as the annoying kid in class that everyone wants to punch because they gloat so much about their knowledge and what they can do with it.
It doesn’t help that about a quarter of the way through I released how this series is going to end. Later, certain events that transpired, confirmed my belief. I may not have all the specifics, but it became obvious far too early for my liking how this one was going to play out. It’s taken some of the enjoyment out of the series, making it even more difficult for me to wade through the events.
Had I not brought all three books, I doubt I would have carried on with this series. This second book failed to win me over, and I’ve worked out more than I would have liked about what is to come in the third. I’ll read it, just to get the specifics, but I’m not expecting anything amazing.
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