Review: The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

stone_skyRating: 5 stars

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

Review: I’m sure everyone has already raved about this, but I can’t resist: I loved this. Absolutely loved it. A completely satisfying conclusion to the series in a way I didn’t expect. She stuck the landing, guys! When a series is this good, and this heartbreaking, I always worry the writer won’t be able to finish well, but thankfully Jemisin is far too skilled for that. And what I really loved was the way so many themes and ideas came together as the narratives converged.

The interweaving narratives and POV-styles are a big part of what has made this series so good for me, and Jemisin once against got that spot-on. What could be viewed as stylistic trickery is actually one of the elements that makes these books so strong. She could have written them all in flat third-person and that would have been fine, I guess, but the story would have lost something if she’d done that. The third-person/second-person/first-person combination was necessary to tell the story with the strength and depth it needed.

The characters are the other element that really made this book and the whole series. Over the course of three books, I came to care about these beautiful, flawed, fascinating people. They didn’t always do the right thing, they got things wrong, they were incredibly broken, but that’s what made them into people I cared about. Even Nassun, who did terrible things, was someone I couldn’t help feeling sympathy for and loving by the end because all her actions had causes. That’s something Jemisin got very right–nothing her characters did was senseless, there was always a logical or emotional reason behind their actions. They felt real and vibrant to me.

I think this is one of the best series I’ve read in the last few years (and Hugo voters agree–Jemisin joined the tiny group of people two win the best novel Hugo two years running a few weeks ago) and this concluding part was as strong as the preceding parts, leaving me feeling exhausted but satisfied. Highly recommended.

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