July 21, 2017
'The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms' by N.K. Jemisin
I began writing this review about three quarters the way into the book. I should start off by saying that I am not familiar with a first person style of writing. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms stands out in that regard. However I was confused- and put off- despite my random nature to begin with- with cut off ideas and random bits of information injected- as if some kind of inception were taking place. You begin to realize through the book that this is a recollection of events that happened- although you are reading and 'seeing' in the moment.
It would be disingenuous of me to say that first person writing styles are not the way to go in fantasy. I am sure someone, somewhere in my subjective opinion (and it is just that- an opinion) used it to amazing success. I have also seen third person storytelling with injected first person elements. Thoughts. I can see where the book may be confusing to people who can't hang on long to abstract thought. Some may call it genius- but I can't see it in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
It's not a bad book- but it isn't amazing either. I think what limits the book, and potentially the series- is that it is too narrow. Fine- it is from one character's point of view. But I feel that any world-building, if it was considered much- was not sufficient enough to make me read on the edge of my seat. Again- leaning towards chaos rather than order in writing style can be done to great effect- but I just can't see it. Some other folks can, but I cannot. I think the sex scenes, although they establish importance between characters detracts from the experience.
The seeds are there- but I don't think enough was done to nurture their growth. I feel the development wasn't enough, but what is here is enough to keep you reading the series to see how it turns out. I also felt that there was next to no combat in this book. The little combat that there was was well written and grandiose. I liked it- but it felt... lacking. Nothing in the book knocked my socks off and sent me careening over the edge.
I wouldn't give a 'pass on this' recommendation, but a cautious note that if the reader likes being thrown for loops and enjoys the narrow focus of the story- then this book will do. I may or may not donate it in the future so that my copy can be enjoyed by another reader. If you want to look into it- pick up a sample and see if you like it. Free demos/samples are available here on Goodreads.