Petrik's Reviews > The Obelisk Gate

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
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it was ok
bookshelves: owned-physical-books

2.5/5 Stars

Buddy read with the lovely Melanie!

The Obelisk Gate just won the Hugo Award 2017 for Best Novel of the year category, and coincidentally, I finished reading the book on the same day the result of the award was announced. Sadly, it’s not a happy coincidence because I highly disagree with it.

This is probably the most unpopular opinion I ever wrote so far. At the time of posting this review, out of 12470 ratings, less than 200 readers rated this book below 3 stars, I am one of them. I loved The Fifth Season, very much. It’s a work of a genius and I gave it 4.5 stars. Believe me when I say that I truly wish I could love this book the same way but I just can’t. I am severely disappointed with it and as usual, I will always be honest with my ratings and reviews regardless of the majority’s opinions, so here it is.

To summarize my mixed feelings about this book, The Obelisk Gate is majorly inflicted with the infamous second book syndrome. For reasons I can’t mention to avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that the first book has the advantage of being fresh in every element Jemisin implemented and in my opinion, she failed to live up to it. It’s not a surprise, I knew right after finishing the first book that the second book won’t be as good, but I just didn’t expect it to be this much.

Told only from two main POV and one minor POV, Essun’s POV is where I had tons of problems with. Within the first 70% of the book, her story is heavily filled with tons of info dump fired off at rapid succession, and I know I’ll forget most of them within a week after reading. Some of them are interesting for sure, but I was mindlessly bored reading her POV. Few revelations to the story aside, there’s nothing interesting out of Essun’s POV this time for me, her character doesn’t develop much, she resides only in one location throughout the whole book, and admittedly I actually fell asleep reading her story and had to force myself reading through it. When some actions did appear in the end, the damage has been done and I can’t bring myself to care anymore towards anything that happens in her story at this point because of how stagnant her character development has been compared to before.

The other major problems I had with the book this time lies within Essun’s second person present tense narrative. In the first book, it’s understandable to use this choice of narration for her POV, I feel like there’s no reason to use it again in the second book, can’t tell you why for spoiler reasons again. Plus, in the first book, the story was told from three main POV’s switching back and forth equally, with the other two characters done in third person perspective narration, Essun’s narration style didn’t felt as distracting, instead it felt fresh to go back to because there was enough break between her and the other characters chapter. In here, there are only two main POV, reading Essun’s second person present tense perspective style in heavy dose is really something I can’t tolerate.

It’s not all bad of course because I thoroughly enjoyed reading the other main POV. To make my review completely spoiler-free, I won’t even mention the name of this character but the storyline that was told from this character is amazing. Full of character developments; deal with tons of Xenophobia topic, and also, in my opinion, the most important aspect in preparation for the third book. This character also shed some light and complexity to Schaffa’s character. Another positive part of the book is that the world-building is still great. The Stillness is a post-apocalyptic setting done right in high fantasy. Basically, the other main POV and the world-building are the only factors that stopped me from DNFing this book.

That said, I will continue to read the Stone Sky because everything in this book is truly a setup for the final installment and I’m still intrigued to find out how it all ends. However, even if the third book ended up being something I thoroughly enjoyed like The Fifth Season, I know this is a trilogy that I won’t be rereading again in the future. All opinions are based only on my experience, the high chances are that you’ll have a different experience from me, and I sincerely hope that you love this more than me. I am basically on a lonely island screaming “I don’t like this book” to Spongebob and Patrick right now.

You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
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Reading Progress

October 13, 2016 – Shelved
August 9, 2017 – Started Reading
August 12, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 64 (64 new)


Silvana I love unpopular opinion!


Petrik Silvana wrote: "I love unpopular opinion!"

Lol! XD well, i'm happy you enjoyed the book more than me!


message 3: by Bookwraiths (new)

Bookwraiths Thanks for writing what you truly felt, not what you believed you should. Sadly being honest takes a great deal of courage these days.


Petrik Bookwraiths wrote: "Thanks for writing what you truly felt, not what you believed you should. Sadly being honest takes a great deal of courage these days."

Thanks man! I agree.. I do know some people, even bloggers or booktubers, who actually changed their ratings because they feel bad to voice their true opinion.. won't happen to me though. XD


message 5: by Roy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Roy Thanks for the honest review


Petrik Roy wrote: "Thanks for the honest review"

You're welcome Roy :)


message 7: by Haïfa (new) - added it

Haïfa I was already afraid of the series's POVs when I read your review of the Fifth Season, now I'm dreading it ! but seriously amazing review P! Sorry this was such a letdown ! I hope the 3rd book will be even more satisfying than the 1st !


message 8: by TS (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan Excellent honest review Petrik!
You da man!


message 9: by Celeste (new)

Celeste So sorry this was such a letdown for you, love. But you explained your view beautifully. Great review!


Petrik Haïfoun wrote: "I was already afraid of the series's POVs when I read your review of the Fifth Season, now I'm dreading it ! but seriously amazing review P! Sorry this was such a letdown ! I hope the 3rd book will..."

Thank you Haifa!! Urgh I'm sad too that this one didnt work out for me. Fingercrossed book 3 will be better! :)


Petrik TS wrote: "Excellent honest review Petrik!
You da man!"


Thank you ny friend!! So kind of you! :D


Petrik Celeste wrote: "So sorry this was such a letdown for you, love. But you explained your view beautifully. Great review!"

Thank you love!! I sincerely hope the next book will be better! :)


message 13: by Caleb (new)

Caleb M. hahahahahah Oh man I loved how you finished this review up! Tell Spongebob and Patrick I said Howdy. Good review man. Sorry it didn't work for you! What a bummer after you enjoyed the first one sooooo much :(


message 14: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Bummer! Sorry this was disappointing. Hopefully Book 3 turns out better!


Petrik Caleb wrote: "hahahahahah Oh man I loved how you finished this review up! Tell Spongebob and Patrick I said Howdy. Good review man. Sorry it didn't work for you! What a bummer after you enjoyed the first one soo..."

Hahaha thanks man!!! I'll make sure to tell Patrick! I'm bummed as well... i really enjoyed the first book but I cant love this one :/


Miche I appreciate that you always give us honest reviews. I am sorry this one was a bummer, specially after you enjoyed the first one so much.


Petrik Miche wrote: "I appreciate that you always give us honest reviews. I am sorry this one was a bummer, specially after you enjoyed the first one so much."

Thank you Miche!! I appreciate your words! :') yeah.. I was looking forward to this one too, so sad it didn't work out for me :/


Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Awhhh so sorry love!! Hopefully stone sky picks back up where the fifth season left off!


message 19: by Orient (new) - added it

Orient Great review, Petrik ;) Wow, a fair assessment. Hope your next read is better ;)


Petrik Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ wrote: "Awhhh so sorry love!! Hopefully stone sky picks back up where the fifth season left off!"

Thank you love, I will pray to Holy Earth that Stone Sky will be awesome


Petrik Orient wrote: "Great review, Petrik ;) Wow, a fair assessment. Hope your next read is better ;)"

Thanks Orient!! I hope so too! :)


message 22: by Igor (new)

Igor Ljubuncic Nice one. Thanks.
Igor


Petrik Igor wrote: "Nice one. Thanks.
Igor"


Thanks. You're welcome.


Laura Great review Petrik! I wonder if I'll feel the same about it.


Petrik Laura wrote: "Great review Petrik! I wonder if I'll feel the same about it."

Thanks Laura! Well I sincerely hope not. XD


Josie I too was quite disappointed by this one.I LOVED the first one I had such high hopes and was let down. Though I don't think I disliked it as much as you, I also felt a little alone in the crowds touting how amazing this was...and me thinking...what did I miss? Did we not just take a step back in epicness?


Nils | nilsreviewsit I'm looking forward to to Stone Sky. Hope it all makes sense though at the end! 😂


Melanie Our first difference of opinion buddy read! ❤ But I do completely agree about this feeling like second book syndrome! But I still love the different narrative, even without the surprise factor. I'm sorry it wasn't as good for you, but thank you so much for reading it with me! ❤ I hope your next book is five stars! xx


Mayim de Vries Worry not, minority opinions are the precious ones, the salt of goodreads. :)


Mayim de Vries PS I love the review, but I SERIOUSLY cannot hit like Petrik. xD


Petrik Mayim wrote: "PS I love the review, but I SERIOUSLY cannot hit like Petrik. xD"

Thanks Mayim. Haha no worries, i'm not being salty about the book, more like super disappointed because I love the first book.


Petrik Nils wrote: "I'm looking forward to to Stone Sky. Hope it all makes sense though at the end! 😂"

Same here Nils!! I hope Stone Sky will be better! :)


Petrik Josie wrote: "I too was quite disappointed by this one.I LOVED the first one I had such high hopes and was let down. Though I don't think I disliked it as much as you, I also felt a little alone in the crowds to..."

Totally agree with you Josie. I was like "how is this book rated so highly?" But well, goes to show just how opinions can differ! :)


Petrik Melanie wrote: "Our first difference of opinion buddy read! ❤ But I do completely agree about this feeling like second book syndrome! But I still love the different narrative, even without the surprise factor. I'm..."

Yeah our first difference of opinion and I hope will be the last xD thank you for doing another BR with me too! I'm going to go check your review now! :)


message 35: by Mili (new) - added it

Mili Bummer! And indeed fingers crossed for the last installment~


message 36: by Petrik (last edited Aug 13, 2017 01:44AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Petrik Mili wrote: "Bummer! And indeed fingers crossed for the last installment~"

Truly a bummer! Thank you Mili, i hope so too! Btw, I probably will read Beyond Redemption next week! I'll let you know! :D


Mayim de Vries I know the feeling (and I DO commiserate).


Petrik Mayim wrote: "I know the feeling (and I DO commiserate)."

Hahaha thank you! :D


Michael Feeney I agree! I liked books 1 and 2, but found myself not caring that much, particularly after book 2. Like you said, I've already forgotten a lot of information from it. I did something I never do and bought them both sight unseen. I know better too. Usually I'll read the first 100 pages of a library copy. Gah! I won't be buying book 3, but I'll read it.


Petrik Michael wrote: "I agree! I liked books 1 and 2, but found myself not caring that much, particularly after book 2. Like you said, I've already forgotten a lot of information from it. I did something I never do and ..."

Exactly. It's because all of them are just info dump. I finished it two days ago and I already forgot who exactly some of the characters are, that's how pointless this book was for me. Well, I still have hope for book 3 because this seems like a setup for it but my expectation si very low


message 41: by Zaid (new)

Zaid Great review, as always.


Petrik Zaid wrote: "Great review, as always."

Thanks Zaid :)


Kenan Though we are totally disagreed on this one, glad to see you give an honest and well-considered opinion :) Hopefully The Stone Sky will come out stronger for you!


Petrik Sevly wrote: "Though we are totally disagreed on this one, glad to see you give an honest and well-considered opinion :) Hopefully The Stone Sky will come out stronger for you!"

Thank you Sevly!! I'm glad that you really enjoyed this one. I hope Stone Sky will be as good as the first book again! :)


Veronica And I liked Essun's chapters more than Nassun's, lol. I had a hard time sympathisising with Nassun.


Petrik Veronica wrote: "And I liked Essun's chapters more than Nassun's, lol. I had a hard time sympathisising with Nassun."

Haha I dunno why I can't connect with Essun's POV in this book. The last book is different though, every POV is amazing :)


message 47: by C. (new) - rated it 2 stars

C. Wasn’t sold on the narrative style of the first book but it got easier and was a solid 3.5-4/5 book, but I couldn’t get past the first 100 pages of this one and abandoned the series.


Petrik C. wrote: "Wasn’t sold on the narrative style of the first book but it got easier and was a solid 3.5-4/5 book, but I couldn’t get past the first 100 pages of this one and abandoned the series."

Oh that's too bad, C! I know we're minorities on this opinion and I feel the same way about you. I thought this book was just immensely weak, no idea where the praises came from. But the first and especially the third book was incredible! So if you do decide to continue, maybe you can bare through this one xD


message 49: by Rob (new) - added it

Rob I was planning on reading this later this year. I've only read #1 thus far. May have to move that time line up.


Petrik Rob wrote: "I was planning on reading this later this year. I've only read #1 thus far. May have to move that time line up."

Don't wait up too long, Rob! Although it's a trilogy, it's complex enough that I think you'll forget a lot of details if you wait too long! :)


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