Review: The Killing Moon (Dreamblood Book 1 of 2)

The Killing Moon - N.K. Jemisin

I’ve been hearing good things about this author, but this was my first time reading any of her work.  I was pretty impressed.  The story and the characters grabbed me right away and held my attention to the end.  There are some morally-ambiguous plot elements, as opposed to a story where it’s very clear what’s right, what’s wrong, and what to root for.


This is one of those books that will exasperate some people, at least in the beginning, because the author throws a lot of unfamiliar terms, names, and places at the reader in rapid succession.  It’s nothing more than what epic fantasy fans are used to, though, and everything starts to make sense pretty fast.  It helped that I was reading it on my Kindle and could search for past occurrences of a word to remind myself of its earlier context.  There’s a glossary in the back, but I didn’t see it until the end, and I tend to avoid them anyway for fear of spoilers, however slight they may be. 


The general premise of the book is that a few people called “Gatherers” have the gift of helping people die peacefully, by sending the person’s soul into a peaceful dream world before killing them.  The theory is that this is only done for willing people who are very sick or elderly, or for evil, corrupt people.  But what if this power is abused?  There’s much, much more to the premise than this, but learning the details throughout the story is the fun part so I don’t want to spoil it.


At 418 pages, this book felt really short.  Part of that was of course because the story was so interesting that it was a quick read.  However, a large part of this book’s apparent shortness was because I wanted more meat and detail to expand on the world-building, history, and characters I was introduced to.  I would have liked to see the characters wrestle a little more with some of the moral ambiguity, and I also wanted a more drawn-out ending.  Things seemed to be resolved a bit quickly, and I wanted to learn more about how the characters we had been following and the greater civilization around them would change as a result of the events. 


I’m hopeful that maybe I’ll get a little more closure in the second book, if only by seeing what the state of affairs are in the next book.  I plan to start the next book later tonight, although I’m not likely to get much more reading time in before I have to go to sleep.  Happily, another four-day weekend is around the corner! :)


As a side note, I think this is the fastest I've been able to publish a review here on BL in months.  It's not perfect yet, but it does seem like it's improved over the last few days.