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Review: The Fifth Season (N. K. Jemisin)

Book Review:  The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
Fantasy, Post-apocalyptic/#1 of 3, The Broken Earth Trilogy

“This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is just the beginning of another. This has happened before, after all. People die. Old orders pass. New societies are born. When we say ‘the world has ended,’ it’s usually a lie, because the planet is just fine.
But this is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
For the last time.”

One of the benefits of not having a rating system is that when I feel like it, I can arbitrarily make one up. With that in mind I would like to give The Fifth Season FIVE MILLION STARS. I loved this book.

The basic premise: the ironically named Stillness is a world in constant motion, wracked by earthquakes, volcanic activity, and tsunamis. Some people – called the orogenes – are born with an innate ability to manipulate the earth, calming or exacerbating the seismic that is part of daily life. They are the most feared and yet most valuable members of society, and are isolated and tightly controlled from childhood or birth – whenever they are first discovered.

The Fifth Season is remarkable in every way; it is brilliantly and beautifully written. I love the combination of fantasy/science fiction/post-apocalyptic influences in the story, and the unpredictability the unusual hybrid of genres creates.  The sweeping drama of the world is a fantastic backdrop to the true drama, which is intensely personal in nature.  It’s one of those rare and especially rewarding books where a new bit of information, dropped well into the book, suddenly makes all the pieces of the story fall into place and connect in a way that they didn’t before. (I am guessing that a lot of people, like me, exclaimed “Aha!” out loud at one point while reading the book. Though hopefully they didn’t do it on a bus full of people and startle the stranger sitting next to them, like I did.)

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