Review: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am late to the game with this one but I blame that on my aversion to picking up book series that aren't finished yet. You can blame Robert Jordan for that one--and if you don't know who he is, well, imagine Lord of the Rings, like ten more books over varying lengths between 600-1000 pages; and the author dies before finishing it. So I don't like to start something unless I know it's finished and since the third book was recently published, I was excited to finally read The Fifth Season because everyone that knows me, said I should read it. The story is a masterclass in world building and merging science-fiction and fantasy in compelling ways. I appreciated the character development and how we are given a lens into the lives of humans that are both like us and far different.

The premise is it is the future of Earth in a time of environmental disaster; but so far into the future that the world we know has been forgotten. The world as presented is largely one continent (or that's all that's left) and it has several metropolis and smaller cities that have to regularly wall themselves up when it comes time for the fifth season, a time in which the weather shifts and its impossible to do grow anything or be outside. It's different from winter in that it's not just cold but harmful. Throughout the world, there are people known as orogenes who have a magic power that allows them to tap into the earth and ease earthquakes and other useful things. However, these people are largely controlled, considered subhuman, and bred--a metaphor (or outright analogy as they call it out within the book) for slavery. The story follows three different orogenes, a mother whose daughter has been killed by the father upon discovering the daughter was an orogene, a woman who has been paired with a master orogene to explore an issue in a harbor in a city, and a new student at the school where they train the orogenes. The reader follows them as each of them comes to better understand their position in the world and find a means of resolving their orogene identity with the world at large (which is all I can say without giving away too much).

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