I keep hearing things about N. K. Jemisin, but my reading list is so long. HOWEVER. Jemisin ticks so many boxes for CBR 10 Bingo – award winner, birthday, start of a series, etc that I made space. I was very surprised to find that my library had no Jemisin books in the collection, so requested a copy of The Fifth Season via interlibrary loan based on recommendations on the CBR FB page. Thank you, folks, for the excellent recommendation!
This is the first book in a trilogy, with the story following three different protagonists at three different time periods. These protagonists are three women at different ages – a tween girl, a young woman, and a middle aged woman. They live in a world that is seismically unstable, and some people are orogenes, basically able to control the earth. These empowered people are feared but extremely valuable on this volatile landscape, strictly controlled by a mysterious organization. It is dark and detailed and very compelling.
While Jemisin is an excellent world builder, I wouldn’t suggest that this book is escapism in the way a Patrick Rothfuss novel is for me. This is a book that is about power structures, examining who controls power, who exerts power, and what can be done as the world comes to an end in very different ways. It’s interesting, in that the the people of the Stillness don’t discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation or physical characteristics. The world is divided into orogenes and those who are not orogenes, called Stills. The world is named after those people, which is a good indicator of the most basic power structure. It feels dangerous and fraught and maybe a little on the nose for these political times.
I was so pleased to read this. It has many complex women characters, it has a carefully plotted story that moved quickly, and it felt like it had something to say. I cannot wait to read the second book.
CBR10 Bingo category: Birthday!