definitely a book that will grab you by an irresistible body part and propel you forward. yet it’s not all plot; one feels the characters as people and their history as lived.
the worldbuilding is thoroughly awesome. Jemisin has clearly put a lot of thought into her eternally post-apocalpytic world. what with the current civilization, the past one(s), and the various intelligent species all in conflict for control of a planet prone to seismic hissy fits on a grand scale, there’s surely more than enough grist here for the series it seems it will be.
the story follows three main characters: Essun, a woman whose family is destroyed; Syenite, a woman of immense power but no control over the use of it, or even of her own body; and Damaya, a child rejected by her own parents and tossed off to a kind of slaver whose motives are downright creepy. these three threads wind together in the end.
only two bits were problematic for me: the character Alabaster, who is supposed to be a mentor but who’s an epic fail at that, in my opinion–he withholds too much for no good reason. but his personal failings aside, he’s too often used as infodump territory, and that gets a tad old. not horrible, but enough to irk sometimes.
the other was the eternal unpleasantness of Syenite. Jemisin makes it very clear why she is as spiky as she is, but spending a third of a book with a woman who has zero sense of humor or warmth… well, it’s a long time to hang out with a crankypants.
still these are relatively small complaints–it’s a ripper read and a very un-put-downable book, and i look forward to the next in the series. i’ll definitely be nabbing it as soon as it’s out.
i listened to the audiobook version–Robin Miles did an interesting read of it if sometimes a little over-emotive. super-good job on the often halting and interrupted speech of the characters, though, and she has diction clear enough to carve.