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The Broken Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #2)The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So when I heard that the sequel to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was about a blind woman who could see magic and who was a painter . . .?

. . . I made A Face.

A blind woman who sees magic and paints. I mean, seriously, this is the disability equivalent of the magical negro, you guys, and my face was not impressed.

After reading the book, I’m mostly puzzled. Because it was a pretty good book, full of win on several measures, and I just didn’t care all that much. It’s about a fallen god, but not about how our heroine saves him with her vagina. In fact, it’s mostly about her, imagine that, against a background not muddied by assorted racial and sexual fail.

And hell, it even did a pretty good job with a blind point-of-view. I spent a hundred pages grumbling to myself about how the narrative didn’t feel peculiar to me, about how nothing stuck out, where was the POV work – oh. Nothing was sticking out at me, because the inner landscape sounded a lot like mine, with visual referents used only as far as they’ve been culturally absorbed from everyone else, not because they actually mean anything to her. (Though the occasions when she could see via looking at magic were weirdly pedestrian to me, described almost completely in bog-standard visual terms. It felt like cheating, frankly, like functional sight could be flicked on and off at narrative convenience.) But it mostly wasn't about the Amazing Insight (TM) that that narrator has by being disabled or whatever, so there's that.

But mostly, eh. Didn’t care much. And when there's a book about a blind woman my age who broke from her family to move across a continent to live on her own near the center of power -- who lived my life, basically -- and I don't care?

Someone brilliant said these books feel like anime, and that is so fucking true. Long-haired emo gods, and people with thematically significant names, and, well, a blind woman who paints.

And sees magic. And paints. I cannot point that out enough. Because really.

View all my reviews

Date: 2011-04-08 04:56 am (UTC)
jadelennox: ¿Dónde está la biblioteca? (liberrian: community)
From: [personal profile] jadelennox
I wondered what you'd think of this book. I had the same initial reaction to "sees magic and paints" (really, her art had to be PAINTING?), though I was impressed at how often she really did have no vision. And I was definitely impressed at the ending, given that my biggest disability book pet peeve is magical healing or compensation, and this book started with magical compensation and then took it away. And it was fine.

I quite enjoyed the book outside the disability narrative, but that was because I enjoyed the fannishness of starting the book with the romance in media res. But I could see why one wouldn't; the emoness for reals.


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