Life is just speeding on by! I told myself my next post would still be in September. Now it’s not! But life happens and it’s been happening a LOT these past few weeks. Returning from my trip to Portland (it’s like the bay, only with a tad more racism! But otherwise awesome!) job opportunities, aiyah….so for this post I’m going to take you back…not *waaay* back…
Writers with Drinks (because why wouldn’t they?)
What is WwD? It’s a reading event held once a month with authors from all walks of life writing all genres of life and is hosted by the ever crazy wonderful Charlie Jane Anders. I walked over to Borderlands before heading to the event because I had to purchase “The Fifth Season” before seeing N.K. Jemisin. There was a woman in front of me buying a stack of books and she made a little squeak of happiness when she saw the book I was purchasing. The bookseller smiled and said something along the lines of ‘good timing’ because the woman was none other than the amazingness herself.
Fangirling commenced. I was trying to play it cool….really I was…
Now, onto the book!
Title: The Fifth Season
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Keywords: N.K. Jemisin! Avatar the Last Airbender (earthbending)!, PoC protagonists! middle-aged protagonist! world-building!, end of the world!
Reasons: Because I will read everything of her work
This is the way the world ends. Again.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
Oh, Fifth Season how I love thee. The book starts with 2 beginnings of ends: one of the world, where an orogene (think earthbender but more intense) pretty much cracks the continent in half and starts an environmental apocalypse. The other end is of Essun, who discovers her youngest child’s dead body in her living room. She then goes on a journey not only to stave off the grief, but to find her eldest daughter and find her husband, who killed their son.
Nice beginning huh?
This book is a lot to me. In a nutshell, The Fifth Season is a revenge story during the start of the end of the world. Revenge for the death of her child and in a way, as you find out later in the book, revenge against the society that shuns and exploits the powers of orogenes, people who have the ability to control the earth. This story is about an oppression of a group of people. This story is about culture and how in some societies what one is deemed fearful can be considered something to be awed in another. This story is about conspiracy, of what bodies of leadership can hide or change of their own history in order to keep power for the few.
Thinking about it now, reading the book was like peeling an onion (tears included). Page by page I unraveled Essun’s story and from there the culture and history of The Stillness. The history of this land is brutal and horrifying. This first installment is packed with worldbuilding info which is great, but there is a sense of not knowing everything, which makes it way more creepy. It’s what made me nearly scream in frustration at the end of the book because I wanted to read the second book right then and there.
I think the only question I have for this world is how do they really keep these powerful orogenes in check? There are the Guardians, who are really creepy people with really creepy abilities that can easily stop one. An orogene’s power is no joke. One of them brought the end of the world for one thing. If orogenes have this much potential, with their powers combined and all that surely they can lift themselves from the oppression they face? Then again, I didn’t get a sense of how many Guardians there are in relation to orogenes and how many orogenes there are in general in The Stillness.
Why is this not on your bookshelf yet?! No, not your bookshelf, but in your hands reading it?! End of the world, crazy earthbending, diverse characters and a bad ass middle-aged woman out on revenge? Who wouldn’t want to read this?