Monday, July 2, 2018

The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, 498 pages

The world is ending, both figuratively and literally. When the book opens, a major earthquake has destroyed a large city and the effects are being felt throughout the land, even in tiny Tirimo, where Essun is cradling her young son who was killed by his father, who fled with their older child. As Essun pulls herself together enough to chase after what remains of her family, the narrative switches to Syenite, a prickly young member of the Fulcrum, a quasi-governmental agency that uses its members to mitigate damage from natural disasters (more on that in a bit). Syenite has been tasked with procreating with the most talented member of the Fulcrum, whether either one of them likes it or not. Finally, a third narrative follows Damaya, a young girl who is being torn from her family and initiated into the Fulcrum. Essun, Syenite, and Damaya are orogenes, people who have supernatural connections to the earth and its minerals. Orogenes are generally reviled, even though the world has come to rely on them through services provided by the Fulcrum, which trains and hones these connections.

OK, so that's a LONG description setting up this novel, which is so complex and wonderful that it's flat-out impossible to accurately sum up in any way that does it justice. A third of the book (Essun's chapters) is written in second person, which sounds really weird (and, yeah, kind of is for a bit), but also adds to the novel's sense of the unknown. This was an excellent book, and I look forward to reading the second volume in the series.

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