Last week I finally started reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. This book has come highly recommended by a friend who I absolutely trust. They even said I should hold off for awhile because it would change my opinion of fantasy.
Great. I couldn’t wait. Except I had to. It’s taken two months for the book to become available through my library. I was going bonkers for it.
I thought fate gave me the book at the perfect time: I was laid up in bed with a UTI and no heating. All I could do was either read or watch movies on my laptop. For days. Perfect for diving into a new book.
Except then I dove into it. And the book starts out with a mother mourning a small child. A child the same age as my little one who is currently at her grandmother’s house and who I am missing badly. Then the book shifts me into the role of the grieving mother through clever use of second person POV.
I couldn’t do it.
I didn’t even make it through the rest of that chapter. I felt the sorrow and ache of that mother too strongly to keep reading. I returned the book and put on a rom-com.
Was the book bad? No. If anything it was too good. I really felt empathy with the characters. But it just wasn’t right for me at that moment.
It is something I have to try to keep in mind. Sometimes my writing won’t be right for a particular reader. Sometimes it might strike a nerve. Or miss completely. But that doesn’t make my writing bad.
I hope this is also something people keep in mind when reviewing books. There is a vast difference between poor craft and not connecting with a book.
Will I read The Fifth Season? Maybe when my kids are older and the time is right.