For awhile now, I've been hearing good things about N.K. Jemisin. So I had high expectations for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Maybe that's the problem here: my expectations were so high, they had nowhere to go but down.
While reading this book, there was something about it that just didn't sit right with me. It wasn't until I was reading some of the other reviews that I realized what it was: this felt like an anime. Now, I don't actually watch anime but I have seen one or two, here and there. And that's exactly what this book felt like. The sudden arrival to a grandiose and very unlikely setting (a palace that floats high above a city, with nothing to support it but magic and a pillar?); the main character's background, in which she hails from a matriarchal warrior culture (one that isn't fleshed out very well and if anything, seems a bit cartoon-ish); the male lead being an all-powerful being with a dark aura surrounding him (I had a hard time picturing Nahadoth as anything other than a cartoon sketch with a black cloud hovering around him). Add to this the fact that I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. Not even Sieh, who I'm guessing we are supposed to deem adorable because he's so childlike and lovable. And Yeine just didn't seem to care much about anything. She supposedly came to Sky for vengeance over her mother's untimely and suspicious death, but I never felt as though her emotions were strong enough to make this a likely driving force for the character. As for Nahadoth, I didn't feel any chemistry between him and Yeine, and in fact the way he was portrayed just completely turned me off of the character.
Despite all this and other issues I had with the book, I just couldn't bring myself to rate it any lower than 3 stars. The writing is decent, though I never could fully picture the settings in the book (something which almost automatically happens for me when reading any novel). The characters are okay, they just needed some reworking especially in regards to their motivations and back stories (this was seriously lacking; I couldn't bring myself to care about ANY of them). But I really do think that because I had such high expectations, I was so disappointed. So I added a star to be fair.