Oct 05, 2020PimaLib_ChristineR rated this title 4.5 out of 5 stars
The Stone Sky begins with Essun and her daughter Nassun both aware of the moon's approach to its perigee. Each knows that she can use her power to grab the moon but each wants to do so for a different purpose. They each take different routes to reach the abandoned city of Corepoint on the opposite side of the world from the torn-apart continent on which they live. Interspersed with their travels, we are taken back to the distant past and memories of what life was like before The Shattering that led to the Fifth Seasons.
The Stone Sky, the third in The Broken Earth series, had the same pacing issue as The Obelisk Gate but possibly to a greater extent. This time I felt like the first 60% or so was very difficult reading. The pace was chopped up because the timeline kept changing along with the POV. And while the POV changed a couple of times in the second entry, suddenly we are getting even more characters. All of this backstory and buildup, I felt was the kind of thing that generally goes into the second book of a series, but Jemisin has written the series almost as a mystery, revealing bits along the way. Looking back I'm not even sure if I realized this was a future earth until The Obelisk Gate.
Where The Obelisk Gate dug deep into the scientific premises of adjustment to a world in turmoil, and deeper questions of love and attachment, I felt like The Stone Sky kept it much more surface level on individually experienced emotions, instead using the memories of a time before the Shattering to take a deep dive on "the Other," and how humans have used othering to justify -isms, slavery and torture. The narrator warns us, "... there are none so frightened, or so strange in their fear, as conquerors. They conjure phantoms endlessly, terrified that their victims will someday do back what was done to them—even if, in truth, their victims couldn’t care less about such pettiness and have moved on. Conquerors live in dread of the day when they are shown to be, not superior, but simply lucky." And these are things that need to be said, but I think they could perhaps have been better placed in the middle book.
Then we get to the last 40%. That's when I couldn't put the book down, up, under the covers at 3AM reading until dawn. If the second book dealt with love and all the messed up ways humans try to show it, here Jemisin focuses on loss, how humans react to losing themselves, both literally and metaphorically; and how they react to losing others. The reason this is still nearly a five star book for me is this last section, where everyone really starts moving, we have all of the backstory, and Jemisin rips my heart out. I loved every second of it, ugly crying and all, because Jemisin uses her science-fiction to get at the deeper truths of our lives, leaving me thinking "Yes, yes, that's it exactly."