N. K. Jemisin – The Killing Moon

And thusly my Jemisin-spree comes to a halt. Don’t worry, I still love her writing, but I’m afraid I didn’t quite warm to the characters or the plot in this newer duology of hers. I will definitely read the second part but I’m nowhere near as eager as I was after The Broken Kingdoms.

THE KIILLING MOON
by N.K. Jemisin

published: Orbit, 2012
ISBN: 0316202770
pages: 448
copy: ebook
series: Dreamblood #1

my rating: 6/10
goodreads rating: 3.97/5

first sentence: In the dark of dreams, a soul can die.

In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.
But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru – the most famous of the city’s Gatherers – must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess’ name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh’s alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.

It is with one laughing and one crying eye that I look back on The Killing Moon. Jemisin’s writing style, which I have raved about in three other reviews by now, is still as lush and beautiful as ever. She conjures up the most beautiful images in my head and I don’t mind the invasion into my brain at all. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love yet again with this story’s language and style.

However. The big problem is that we are introduced to several characters with names that are quite hard to remember and keep apart, yet we only spend a chapter at a time with each of them, which made it hard for  me to get to know any one character better and build up a relationship for him or her. For more than half of the book, I didn’t care at all and didn’t feel I knew much of their personalities. The young Nijiri was probably the most approachable character and I liked reading about him. He had personality and flaws and dreams – and I wanted him to be happy. Ehiru, while highly interesting, stays very distant and is too perfect in his faith and actions for my taste. Sunandi, who could have been a great character, felt merely like a stand-in or a token female. I’m still not sure why her character had to be there at all. To dump information on our heroes at the appropriate time – but otherwise her actions didn’t impress me at all, nor did she feel three-dimensional. That surprised me a lot, seeing as how the author definitely can write multi-layered characters.

As for the plot… it took long enough to take off. We spend pretty much half the book learning about how the world works. The city of Gujaareh didn’t quite feel vivid enough to me. The religion that rules the city, however, was brilliant. Again, Jemisin shows us that she can use mythology and Freudian dream analysis (yes, really) and mix them up into something wonderful and terrifying. The Hetawa keep the faith of the Hanaja and make sure the city is always at peace – corrupt people are sent into the realm of dreaming, forever.

Once we find out this peace is not as idyllic as we thought, things get more interesting. I really enjoyed the last third of this book but didn’t feel it was worth the slow beginning. What’s more: I still didn’t really feel close to the characters so whenever they got hurt or lost a loved one, the emotions I was supposed to feel simply didn’t come. So this is another book for the love/hate-pile.

I will read part two of the story, despite The Killing Moon‘s abrupt and – in case of Sunandi – ridiculous, unconvicing ending. If you don’t like series, this can easily be read as a standalone.

THE GOOD: Beautiful language, a great made-up religion and good world building.
THE BAD: Rocky beginning, I didn’t really care about the characters, they remain vague or one-dimensional. The inner conflict didn’t really come across.
THE VERDICT: Recommended to fans of Jemisin’s writing or people who enjoy stories in an Egypt-like setting with made-up religions and gods.

RATING: 6/10  Six killing moons. Quite okay.

The Dreamblood Duology:

  1. The Killing Moon
  2. The Shadowed Sun
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2 thoughts on “N. K. Jemisin – The Killing Moon

    • Nadine says:

      Well, it wasn’t that bad. Maybe I shouldn’t have read all her books so close to each other? I’ll definitely read the second volume but I’m in no hurry. Her writing is still superb and I don’t think this was a bad story. Just not so much my thing. Most other people like these two books better than the “gods” trilogy.

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