I really wanted to give this book 5 stars. Really. I finished it satisfied, maybe even wanting to know what happens next. But...Look, I really think Ms. Jemisin needs to rethink having a love story in every book. Or she at least needs to consider making the characters involved in the romance be likable. Right from the first meeting Sieh has with Shahar and Dekarta, I cannot stand the little girl. And as she grows up, she just gets more obnoxious. I really don't see what Sieh sees in her. And Deka? We don't really learn anything about him in the whole book. He's pretty one-dimensional, and that was very disappointing. There's a few other things I've noticed about Ms. Jemisin's novels.
First, when there's a threesome/trio involved, why is it two males and one female in both instances? And why is it that the female is always seemingly the odd one out? Shahar was the third wheel in the Sieh-Deka-Shahar instance; she wasn't really wanted in the end, regardless of what we are told about the bond the three of them have. And Enefa was spat out of the Maelstrom long after Nahadoth and Itempas, and though she ended up breaking those two apart, she was the one who was the most lonely when it was the three of them together. I felt like Ms. Jemisin doesn't like having women "interfere" in male-male romantic relationships (look what happens when Enefa succeeds in taking Nahadoth away from Itempas).
Second, none of the main characters really seem to actively take a role in the events happening around them until they are left with no other choice. Yeine just reacted to the events in her life until she agreed to become the third member of "the Three". Oree had things happen to her until she saw no choice but to use her magic to bring Itempas back to his full power long enough to defeat Dateh. But that was it. The only other thing she chose to do was raise her baby after Itempas was forced to leave her. And Sieh? He just lets everything happen to him, the aging, the events, everything until he decides to die to save the universe.
And third, none of the gods have good relationships with each other. I get it, they've been alive for a long time, and in that time they've had to adhere to their true natures or they were forced to choose sides in the great war that they had, and everyone's feelings were hurt a bunch of times. But it seems like none of them even like each other. They are incapable of forgiving because they all want to hold onto their anger. Their sense of betrayal was so great that they just cannot forgive each other. It's pretty ridiculous. You'd think that because they're immortal, they would realize how ridiculous they are behaving and just get over it. Or at least try to be friends with each other. And really, I have a hard time believing that Sieh, as the oldest of the godlings, doesn't have at least one sibling that doesn't hate him. He took care of all of them at one point or another.
Clearly, I had massive frustrations with aspects of this novel and the other two in the trilogy. But despite all of that, I really do think this was pretty great for a first outing, and hopefully Ms. Jemisin just gets better from here. I definitely look forward to her future novels.