Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone With The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

Posted May 18, 2016 by LeahAdmin in Reviews / 15 Comments

Book Review: The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
The Killing Moon (Dreamblood #1) by N.K. Jemisin
Published by Orbit on May 1, 2012
Pages: 404
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Book Riot Quarterly Box
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When I was a teenager, fantasy novels were my jam. I couldn’t re-read the Harry Potter series enough times, I was always anticipating the next Artemis Fowl book, and the Abhorsen series was a regular part of my rotation. And yet, as I transitioned to adult fiction, my interest in fantasy fell by the wayside. However, a few months ago, in the depths of the worst reading slump I’ve ever experienced, I decided to shake things up and try reading The Killing Moon, the first novel in N.K. Jemisin’s Dreamblood series. Julianne of Outlandish Lit raved about it, and she hasn’t let me down yet.

In the city of Gujaareh, peace is the law of the land — a law enforced by Gatherers, who shepherd the souls of the pure and the corrupt alike to their final resting place, the land of dreams. But what happens when the very institution responsible for rooting out corruption becomes complicit in the creation of a monster?

From the outset, Jemisin drops the reader into a world that is already turning on its axis, offering little help to readers as they try to get their bearings. I felt so lost in a world of unfamiliar terms, new-to-me names, and mysterious systems of law and religion, that I nearly gave up after the first 150 pages. Luckily, Julianne told me to keep reading, and she’s a queen, so I do what she says. After re-skimming all of the dialogue that point (which really didn’t take very long), I had a much better grasp on who the characters were, how this world worked, and what was happening in the plot.

Once I hit my stride, everything fell into place. The Killing Moon transformed from a baffling world where I didn’t speak the language into a gripping adventure full of intrigue, ambition, and deception as our heroes Ehiru, Gujaareh’s most respected Gatherer; Nijiri, his apprentice; and Sunandi, a totally badass foreign ambassador, fight to get to the bottom of a conspiracy that threatens the peace and safety not only of Gujaareh, but of the world. The characters are compelling and well-drawn, the world building is top-notch while still leaving plenty to reveal in future books, and the multi-layered plot kept me guessing.

This book was definitely outside my comfort zone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it after I got over my initial discomfort. I would highly recommend The Killing Moon to other readers interested in foraying into fantasy, with a small heads up that some patience is required. May I hint that there’s a glossary in the back of the book that would probably have helped me immensely had it occurred to me to read it?

What’s the last book you read that was outside your comfort zone? 

  • Amy Sachs

    I’m with you on loving fantasy when I was younger but growing away from it as I grew up! Maybe I should gives this one a try for old times sake.

    • It’s interesting that so many of us read fantasy as kids/teens but grew away from it. I wonder why?

  • Sonia Lal

    I loved it from the beginning.

  • Wow! Brave woman! I like fantasy, but if I weren’t accustomed to reading it, NK Jemisin probably wouldn’t be who I dipped my toe back in the waters with. Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s swell, and from what I’ve read, she just gets better and better as she goes along. But it’s very dense high fantasy, so I’m not surprised it took you a while to settle in!

    • It showed up in a Book Riot quarterly box last year, and I kind of figured, “hey why not?” I’m relieved to hear not all fantasy is as difficult to get into!

  • I used to read a lot of fantasy too — often because those titles were the longest I could find at the library — but have gotten out of the habit. I tried this one last year and couldn’t get into it… I gave up after far fewer pages than you 🙂

    • That’s such an interesting reason for reading fantasy! I feel like I read it because so many of the YA books marketed toward girls seemed shallow and stupid to me, and fantasy was a good alternative.

      • I read voraciously as a kid and, at some point, my mom couldn’t keep up with the trips to the library. So in order to have enough reading material to last between trips, I started grabbing the longest books I could find — first in the (very fledgling) YA section and eventually into adult fantasy and whatnot. I read a bunch of stuff I was too young for picking out books that way 🙂

  • Artemis Fowl! No one ever talks about those, but I loved them… have never read the last 1-2 though…

    • Holy cats, I just looked it up, and there are 8 books in the series now?! I think I kind of outgrew them after the fourth book, but they were so fun! I was nerdy enough to solve the code running along the pages of the first book but apparently not nerdy enough to crack the code on a later cover haha.

  • BuffaloCharlie

    I joined the Book Club of Buffalo on meetup.com and the first book I read with the club was Dreaming In Cuban, written by Christina Garcia. A story about three generations of Cuban and Cuban-American woman. Didn’t think it would be my cup of tea, but I ended up enjoying the read and Garcia’s story has stuck with me, months later and I am still thinking about the lives led by the main characters.

    • I don’t think I’ve heard of Dreaming in Cuban, but I’m intrigued! I’m glad to hear it was a pleasant surprise for you.

  • My experience with fantasy is very similar to yours! I’d like to get back into it, but I’m to the point where all the descriptions sound the same to me. I just have a hard time feeling inspired to pick it up!

  • I ended up hitting a wall with The Killing Moon, less out of a confusion and more out of general malaise, and I’d like to give it another chance because I LOVED The Fifth Season and will rave about that one until I’m dead and buried.

    So glad you were able to bust out of your slump with this one! Aren’t N. K. Jemisin and Julianne just the best?

    P. S. Did you ever get into the Pendragon/Traveler series? THAT was my pre-teen fantasy/time-travel jam.