Thoughts

Book Review: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1)

by N.K. Jemisin.

The Fifth SeasonSometime far, far in the future, Earth (is it Earth?) is unrecognizable. The landmasses have shifted into one big, volatile continent called The Stillness. Every few centuries or so, this volatility causes a fifth season. It’s a different animal from the other four (spring, summer, autumn, winter); always inhospitable to life, it can vary in its length (months, years, decades) and the specific calamity involved. This book opens at the dawning of a new fifth season. The story is told via 3 characters: Demaya, a young girl from the countryside; Syenite, a talented journeywoman at a specialized academy in the city; and Essun, a mother of two living in a remote village. Each is capable of wielding orogeny (earth magic) and each sheds light on the history and society such an angry planet has wrought. There are secrets, politics, strange beings, great power, unlikely friendships and love stories. There’s a quest, and a reveal, and several surprises. It is at once an epic survival adventure, and an intimate character portrait.

It’s also extremely well-done and well-written. This book just won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and for good reason. The complex world-building and plot intersections are masterfully done. And, as far as I can remember, this is the only time I’ve encountered 2nd-person point of view (“you walk down the road”) in a novel. Every section with Essun is narrated this way. Which, admittedly, I wasn’t sure I liked at first and it took a little getting used to, but Jemisin ends up pulling it off. That is not an easy feat.

The magic system she’s created is really interesting. It’s a mix of earth sciences (plate tectonics, geology, physics) with the inborn ability to control those forces. Obviously, that makes those who can wield this power extremely dangerous- but also necessary given the uneasy earth humanity lives upon. Orogenes end up as second-class citizens at best, slaves at worst. It’s a precarious balance of power between the political and the magical and the earth itself. This just adds more tension to an already tense and sometimes brutal story.

I also have a point I both want and don’t want to bring up, and it’s this: this book has a lot of diverse characters. By that I mean: not everyone is white, not everyone is straight, not everyone is monogamous, not everyone is gender-static. It’s a good mix of all the possibilities on the spectrum, not just the usual. I wanted to bring this up, because I liked it. I didn’t want to bring it up, because I feel that such variety of characters should be the norm, not an exception worthy of note. So take that for what you will.

Overall, this was really well done, and really good read. My only slight critique is that certain plot points or character decisions weren’t fully explained, but I’m hoping book 2 will help clear some of that up. I already have it checked out from the library. 😀

I give it 4.5/5 stars.

Buy From Amazon

The Fifth Season

Continue Reading

Book Review: The Invisible Library

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1) by Genevieve Cogman. An inter-dimensional library tasked with collecting rare works from the the different alternate realities. Do you really need more of a hook than that? I didn’t. Turns out, being a Librarian for this particular library is a lot like being a spy and thief. Add in some time travel, some steampunk flavor, a few paranormal creatures, and more, and you have the makings of a delightfully entertaining read. And it was, at least, delightfully entertaining. This is a book you read for fun, not for Deep Thoughts or Social Commentary. […]

Continue Reading

Book Review: The Fire Sermon

The Fire Sermon (The Fire Sermon, #1) by Francesca Haig. Some time in the future, a nuclear disaster devastates the world. 400 years after that, humanity is still around but has been changed drastically. Every single person is born with a twin. One twin comes out healthy and ‘normal’ (the Alphas) and the other inevitably has some kind of deformity or abnormality (the Omegas). And despite society’s best efforts to segregate these two types, one hard fact remains: whenever one twin dies, so does the other. They are irrevocably linked. When Cass and Zach are born, it’s not clear which […]

Continue Reading

Book Review: The Butterfly Crest

The Butterfly Crest (The Protogenoi Series #1) by Eva Vanrell. Elena grows up in Japan with two loving parents, until a tragic car accident takes them both from her. Raised by her mother’s best friend in New Orleans, Elena finds herself years later in a job she hates with no love life to speak of. Then out of the blue she gets a letter from a bank in Japan about an inheritance from her mother that no one knows anything about. What she finds in Japan is a curse- and it changes everything she thought she knew about her family […]

Continue Reading

Book Review: Results May Vary

Results May Vary by Bethany Chase. What if you found out that your husband, than man you’ve loved and been with for 16 years, had an affair- with another man? That’s exactly how this book opens, as Caroline discovers there are sides and secrets to her husband that she never imagined. Her relationship with Adam has been the pillar of her life, since they were high school sweethearts. Understandably, this breach of trust and the realization that maybe she doesn’t really know her husband implodes her world. She has to navigate this new uncertain ground, and figure out what it […]

Continue Reading

Book Review: Bringing Up Bébé

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. I’d seen mention of this book around the blogosphere for awhile, but had never picked it up. Between my penchant for fiction and not having or really being around many kiddos, it didn’t seem super relevant. But now, with impending aunt-hood, and more importantly potential motherhood in the semi-near future, it felt like a good time to finally read it. This was a fascinating read. The author moved to Paris from New York and when she became pregnant, started taking note of parenting practices and […]

Continue Reading

Book Review: The Waking Fire

The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria #1) by Anthony Ryan. Imagine if dragons existed (in four colors: Black, Red, Green and Blue), and each type of blood granted certain powers to a select few of the population. Imagine the era of monarchies and governments had faded, to be replaced by corporations- who, of course, control access to this dragon blood. They’ve gotten rich and powerful off it, particularly the Ironship Syndicate, which has empire-like control of vast lands. Decades pass. And now the breeding lines of drakes are weakening, and the wild ones more scarce. The old myth of the […]

Continue Reading