Title: The Broken Kingdoms
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Warnings: R for sexuality, violence, and gore.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
It takes me a long time to get through each new N.K. Jemisin book. This isn’t normal for me; generally I’m a speed-reader who can whip through a book in a week, no problem. However, Goodreads shows that I’ve been working on this one since October. Whew.
Our story opens with gods in garbage and introduces us to Oree, blind magic-artist from the city. Oree doesn’t know it, but the strange man that she takes in is far, far more than he seems, and she’s about to be thrown into the midst of a scramble for power that includes gods, demigods, and even certain humans.
As usual, Jemisin’s prose is worth the slow pace. She has such a distinctive, lyrical style, and while The Broken Kingdoms is not set in the grandeur of Sky as the first book was, she shows a distinct ability to bring that same lyricism to a grittier setting. The characters are lovely as well—I was particularly fond of Madding the godling—and Jemisin explores their interactions with the same deft sensitivity that she brought to the political push-and-pull of Yeine’s Sky.
The only complaint that I have about this book is the same as the first—at times, the slow pace of the plot really bogs the book down, and there are moments when I have no idea what’s going on, even after I reread several times. It’s not a huge annoyance, but given the vast strides Jemisin made as a writer between The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and the Broken Kingdoms, I hope to see her improve this aspect.
- The magic. As usual, Jemisin’s magic system is beautifully realized and completely unique.
- Great continuity between book 1 and book 2.
- Jemisin’s gods. ❤ I love that she incorporates some elements from existing mythologies into them without sacrificing her personal vision.
- Oree’s POV. She seems much more grounded than Yeine, and I love that she’s an artist despite her blindness, which is handled in a way that I personally thought was inventive and respectful.
- The bond between Itempas/Shiny and Oree.
- The sex/lovemaking scenes. This is one of my favorite things about Jemisin’s writing; she is very good at making her sex scenes complex and impactful, and at exploring the many different facets of human love and lust.
- The end, which I thought was simply perfect.
- The plot is somewhat wandering and vague, and is very slow to develop and come to fruition. At times, the slow pace is appreciable, because it’s nice to be able to savor Jemisin’s prose, but at others it is simply annoying. I did see a definite improvement between The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms, however, so I hope to see this trend continue in the next book.
Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars out of 5.
Final Grade: A. Would reread, will definitely read next book in series.