After I finally got around to reading The Fifth Season a few weeks ago, I immediately ordered The Obelisk Gate to continue on. This is a sin, because I ordered it from Amazon. Forgive me. I'd purchased The Fifth Season at Kramer's Books, a local bookstore (with a cafe called Afterwords, which is just so perfect) here Washington, DC, and I intended to do the same with The Obelisk Gate, but I didn't think it was likely I'd be near there by the time I wanted to read the next book, and besides, Kramer's usually only has one copy of each book out a time, so how could I know that this would be there when I got there? It is new. (And kudos to a publisher that releases in paperback right away.)
Well, the book came and about three days later I found myself at Kramer's. I bought Seveneves instead. I had The Obelisk Gate slated for one of the days in my weekend, to which someone asked, "You're going to read an entire book this weekend?" Well...yes? I mean, I typically read several. On this particular weekend I didn't, because I ended up binge-watching Once Upon a Time and spending a significant amount of time lying on the couch groaning about how hard my life is in the wake of a run. (I am not a good runner.) But I did still read all of The Obelisk Gate. And...
It suffers from second book syndrome.
It absolutely kills me to say this, but it's true. The Fifth Season built up a complex world with several intertwined story lines on different timelines. Unfortunately, at the end of that book, it was basically all transformed into backstory. I felt that this didn't bode well for The Obelisk Gate, and I was right. This book is a big bunch of nothing happening. Nassun, Essun's daughter, takes the stage as a character, and her part is a bunch of walking and then mostly stuff that we've already seen from Essun in her various personas: trying to master orogeny. Essun, meanwhile, just stays in one place and...doesn't do much. She talks to Alabaster. She talks to Tonkee. She talks to other people. There's talk of a moon but no one will really come out and say it. There's talk of the Obelisk Gate and what she's supposed to do with it but not really any doing in itself. A few things happen near the end, but honestly I didn't feel that they were big, plot-moving things on a grand scale, more things that were just thrown in to have some sort of climax for this book. There is a bit more involvement of the stone eaters, which was interesting, and the writing remains decent, but that second-person tense is still killing me, the breakaways to first-person are distracting, and nothing really happened. This is extremely frustrating to me because I like Jemisin so much, but this book just didn't work for me. Second books in trilogies are hard, and this definitely fell prey to all of the problems that can plague them. It was just "meh," overall, and because it's so hard to talk about a book that was just "meh," I'm going to leave it at that.
2 stars out of 5.