Last winter, on our annual cottage trip with friends, I read a book (described in reviews as a "laugh-out-loud sci-fi love story." believe it or not) that had a chilling rape midway through. The book tried to redeem itself, tried to somehow earn the rape. It absolutely didn't work. To this day, I find it baffling how this aspect of the book seems to be totally skimmed over in every review I've read of it.
Anyhow. That digression was a bit of a warmup for why I found reading N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season incredibly stressful. I think it was mostly state dependent memory: I read 95% of the book while we are at the cottage on this years edition of our trip. And most of the book was fantastic: an incredibly interesting world, unlike any fiction I'd read before.
Yet, as I approached the end of the book I became gripped with a fear that the book would end with the revelation of sexual abuse. A climax was coming, I could feel it, and I knew that for some authors, the way to hammer home a characters pain would be to introduce sexual violence. I found myself stuck, unable to continue. In fact, I first started writing this review at that 95% point, not entirely convinced I'd be able to finish.
In the end, I found a sympathetic friend, who I sent seeking answers in plot summaries. He ended up giving me the all clear. I also ended up googling "N.K. Jemisin Sexual Violence", and found this article by her that assuaged my fears.
In the end, I finished the book. It's full of human pain, and a world that hates humanity. No sexual violence though, thank goodness. Still, I find myself putting the sequel on my for-later shelf at the library. I definitely want some time to recover from The Fifth Season.