Review of Kindle Ebook The Stone Sky – Book 3 of The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

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I’ll be honest – I’ve had The Stone Sky for some weeks and have been putting off reading it because the first two books, The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate were such powerful reads, I didn’t want to risk being disappointed if the ending was fumbled. Fortunately, I came to my senses and realised that the slew of glowing reviews evidently meant this hadn’t happened.

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.

I’ve been interested to note that some people classify this series as fantasy, while others, like me, regard it as mostly science fiction with a fantastic twist. While it is probably one of the most epic, wide-ranging stories I’ll read – given that it tackles humanity’s complicated and grim relationship with their home planet – at its heart is a mother’s desperate search for a lost child who was snatched by her father after committing an unthinkable crime. A crime that most would have regarded as wholly justified.

In addition, there is that viewpoint – the one I am always advising my creative writing students never to use – the second person POV, ‘you’. And yet, I dived back into this POV without so much as blinking. I regularly gush over books I love on this site – but I rarely claim that a series, or a book takes the genre of SFF in another direction and to another level. The Broken Earth trilogy does just that. Like many other reviewers, I find I am scrambling to think of words that adequately sum up my emotions and feelings when I read this book. Inevitably, whatever I say will fall short. However, I do have just a couple of words of advice. Whatever you do, do NOT start this book unless you have read the other two in the series. They are essentially a single book covering a single narrative arc, sliced up into separate volumes and if you don’t start at the beginning, you won’t have any hope of being able to sensibly work out what is going on. And above all, this story deserves to be told in its entirety.

When you start The Fifth Season all set to fling the book across the room because of the odd viewpoint, do hang on in there for at least 30 pages. I am not going to claim for one minute that this series will appeal to everyone, but reading through a number of reviews I am aware that most readers find the POV offputting initially, before finding themselves sufficiently engrossed so that it doesn’t matter. The main question remains regarding The Stone Sky – does it bring this immense story to a satisfactory conclusion? And this was what had prevented me from picking it up, because I couldn’t see any way that Jemisin could pull that one off. However, she does. Although it is only February, I am not expecting another book this year to top The Stone Sky. Never mind 10 stars, I would give it 100 if I could.
10/10

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19 responses »

  1. I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet, it’s one of those books that slipped through the cracks. I agree, once you get into the rhythm of the narrative voice, it’s hard to imagine this story told any other way. So glad you loved it!

  2. Whoops, I’ve not read any of these. They’re on my list – of course the list is not getting any shorter. Still, such high praise. I shall have to bump this series up.
    Lynn 😀

  3. YES!!! Sarah, I’m SO happy you loved The Stone Sky just as I did. It’s stunning, and a fitting ending to a brilliant trilogy. And… I think that’s about all I can without going on and on, or risking any spoilers for your readers. 😉

  4. Adding this one to my list! Speaking of offputting second person, VanderMeer does that in the third book of Southern Reach trilogy; the “you” chapters force readers into the psychologist’s perspective. It was beautifully effective for the pov shift, but I admit I wouldn’t want too much more of a story like that. 🙂

  5. This series is still high on my TBR list, but I’m also not in a rush to get to it. In a way, I want to be in the right mood and mindset, so I can really appreciate it and enjoy it.
    I’m glad book 3 didn’t disappoint you, and I’m looking forward to reading it myself one day. 🙂

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