I’ve sworn off reading trilogies/series for the past few years since I tend to either get totally obsessed or very bored. But after reading Jemisin’s short fiction collection last year, I knew I needed to read her novels. The Fifth Season did not disappoint, and I can’t wait to read the rest of The Broken Earth trilogy.
The Fifth Season revolves around a world built on active volcanoes, which means there are often ‘seasons’ of cataclysmic disasters. These ‘seasons’ are documented and passed down to the surviving generations in order to keep civilization going. Some humans in this world are able to manipulate the earth’s rock and sediment, either calming the shakes and volcanoes, or…mostly by accident…setting off the cataclysmic seasons this world is known for. Because of this, the orogenes (earth manipulators) are a feared and hated race, even as they work hard to keep the land safe for “stills.” The book opens at the beginning of a new season, and in-hiding-orogene, Essun, comes home to find her daughter missing and her son killed. By her husband. Because he’d been showing signs of orogene. In her quest to find her daughter, a story of this shaky land unfolds upturning the prejudice, disaster, and societal disease of this fateful place.
One of the things I most enjoyed about this book is Jemisin’s incredible structure. It’s carefully built from chapter to chapter, character to character, weaving both characterization and contextualization. It’s brilliant, and where I mostly inhale books to get to the end of the plot, I found myself wanting to just sit quietly and enjoy Jemisin’s carefully crafted structure. To give away any more is to give away too much of the fun of unraveling this tale, and I’ll let Jemisin speak for herself. 🙂
But you should read this book if you love speculative fiction. It’s perfect.