I knew this would be good (pages and pages of CBR reviews told me so), and I was not disappointed. There was some truly incredible world-building, some interesting writing choices (second-person point of view chapters?), and characters I wanted to hug or fight battles with. I can’t wait to read the next one!
It feels silly to recap the plot when everyone has read it already, but here goes (in case this review is the final straw that pushes you into reading it and joining the throngs of fans): it’s waaaaay post-apocalyptic, and the Earth is basically broken. The seasons are Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and occasionally Apocalypse, but nobody ever knows when that Fifth Season will hit. It could be a dozen years, it could be centuries. So communities keep storecaches of food and supplies, and families keep go-bags in case they need to run. The apocalypses center around earthquakes and volcanoes, but are often exacerbated by spin-off calamities, like extinction of a food grain or growth of a deadly fungus.
There are people called orogenes who can feel the danger zones in the earth, and can be trained to help quell quakes. However, for some reason, the ‘normal’ people hate and fear the orogenes, even though, hello, they sound super damn useful. So orogenes are rounded up, controlled, and trained in a place called the Fulcrum. I realize there are layers and layers of story here, about control and power and what you can be tricked or trained into giving up for just a scrap of power, but I think others have covered all that much more eloquently.
The story covers three characters: a young girl Damaya who is being taken to Fulcrum; Syenite, a fully-trained orogene out on a mission to help a community with a problem; and then the interesting second-person chapters, about a woman facing a tragedy and searching for revenge and survival on the cusp of a new Fifth Season.
On the surface, it’s a clever post-apocalyptic tale. Underneath, it’s a sharp look at society, protecting ourselves and what we love, and fearing the Other. And I am kicking myself for taking so long to read it!
Plus, it has an excellent opening paragraph: “Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things.”