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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

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Magic Breaks
Ilona Andrews
The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel
Helene Wecker
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - N.K. Jemisin I've just realized I'm about to give two entirely different books the exact same rating for entirely different reasons. Somehow, that is profoundly unsatisfying to my bookish need to categorize. I need a GR ratings intervention.Something about "The Hundred" fails to digest well. Falling back on my inevitable food analogies, it felt like all those ingredients I love were there--sugar, flour, butter, vanilla, chocolate--but scrambled, fried and decorated into a concoction I wanted to love but just couldn't.The positives: First and foremost, themes dealt with issues of slavery, servitude, class status and divinity in a very unusual but thoughtful way. It avoided preaching, instead showing how even powerful personalities devolved and struggled under subjugation. Two, information sharing was done tolerably well and did not suffer from the common fantasy 'info-dump' syndrome. As Yeine, the narrator, is new to the city of Sky and her Arameri relatives, the process of orienting her orients the reader. Three, the author also makes a point of giving characters unconventional, multi-ethnic looks and backgrounds, including a female lead who is "short, brown and flat, with unruly curly hair." It's always a positive to see something beyond the tall/leggy or curvaceous stereotypes, and to see women capable of playing multiple roles within a book that are not dependent on sexuality. Lastly, at times Jemisin's language impressed me: "This was the sort of thing that made people hate the Arameri--truly hate them, not just resent their power or their willingness to use it. They found so many ways to lie about the things they did. It mocked the suffering of their victims." Where Jemisin failed to turn the ingredients into deliciousness: First, it felt 'young adult' in tone; though the narrator was supposed to be 19 and heir/ruler to her tribes' lands, she acts and responds in surprisingly naive and young ways at times. She loses her temper with people she's just met. She's preoccupied with finding out what her mother was "really" like. (By the time we are three-fourths through the book, I started to flash on the children's book Are You My Mother?). She's uncomfortable with sex and refers to a pool being for "...other things." Her youth was unexpected, and perhaps started me off on the wrong foot as I was anticipating a more mature character. Second, while I appreciate the unconventionality of the female lead's looks, one of the males, Nahadoth, is immediately described as "beautiful." Oh, for young-adult romance stereotypes of the plain girl and the hot unattainable male! Of course he chases her with violent intent shortly after meeting, and of course, he kisses her shortly after they confront each other. Dark, misunderstood, and isolated male just needs to be loved to change. That's like burning the dessert right there. Three, there's excessive use of portentous statements. My feeling is that if one has to rely on such statements as "it would occur to me shortly thereafter..." and "later I would understand that..." you are either not doing your job writing, or you are writing one seriously convoluted narrative. Lastly, and this is definitely a style choice, this story felt mythic, as in constructed like Greek myths, with relatively clear plotting with relatively clear motives implemented in an elaborately convoluted way. It was saved from excessive simplicity by the narrative voice shifting between time periods (although we don't know this at the time), oral histories, and dream-states. It lent padding, but not in the right spots. Almost lastly, it also had weird and uncomfortably sexual overtones with Yeine and a demi-god who regularly appeared in child-form and was sexually abused by her family members. Oh, lastly again, and this time I mean it, I really hate paranormal sex scenes, especially the bed-destroying type. (Prolonged eye-roll). Spare me the youthful expectations and descriptions of metaphysical sex that ends the old self and births the new, and destroys the furniture in the process.How to rate, how to rate? Two and a half to three stars on the personal enjoyment scale. Four stars for dealing with slavery, an unusual religious set-up and language use some of the time. Three for a moderately unsurprising ending that wrapped things up well and evil getting it's due . Two for including an eye-rolling sex scene, the bad-boy lover, and language use the rest of the time.