Review: The Broken Earth Trilogy

My Review of The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

Since I am writing a review of the entire series, there will be spoilers from here on out. This is your warning.

My summary: In a world where some people (called oroenes) can control the earth but are reviled for it, a mother searches for her daughter, taken by her husband after he kills their son for having this power. Also, the earth is broken, and can only be fixed by catching the moon and putting it back in orbit with the earth.

Why I picked up this trilogy: I’ve heard tons of great things about it, including it winning a Hugo. I’ve had several friends who throughly enjoyed it.

What I knew going in: Very little. I actually didn’t even read the back-cover copy. I bought it based on reputation alone.

My response: This is a very odd review for me. If I had known what this trilogy was like and the themes of it before I picked it up, I never would have. However, the writing was beautiful, and the first book was just interesting enough that since I already owned the trilogy, I started reading the second. The second book took me two months to read, not something that *ever* happens to me. Usually I finish a book in a few days or I never pick it up again. I finished the last book because I figured I might as well.

My problems with the themes in this book:

1) Essun loses two children, and while I knew intellectually that I should care and understand about the pain this causes a person, I didn’t. I don’t have experience with the parent-child relationship that is fairly standard in society.

2) This book delves deeply into the ugliness created in people based on fear (whether justified or not) and the resulting anger and hatred. I get enough of this watching the world every day, and I actively avoid books that focus on this because my reading tends to be escapism.

Despite that, the writing and world building were amazing and beautiful enough to pull me along despite my flat out dislike of the main themes and lack of connection to the characters. Not even Rothfuss’ Kingslayer series could manage that. (And man that world and his writing are beautiful.) I have marked places where I want to go back and review her writing. She also did beautiful things with the merging of magic and technology, which is something I am coming to see as a recurring theme in my own books. I am glad she, and many other authors, are paving the way for this type of book in general.

The onyx says, in its ponderous, wordless way: Execute Y/N?

Do I recommend this series?: If you’ve read my review, without having read the books, you likely have enough information about the themes to decide whether this is a book you would enjoy. They are good books, I just didn’t like them and I’m not arrogant enough to consider the fact that my not liking a book means it’s bad. However, I won’t be recommending these books unless it’s an example for writers.

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