Book review

The Fifth Season

The Broken Earth #1

by N.K.Jemisin


Sometimes you read a book, and you’ve no idea what’s going on for the first third of the book, but then you put together a few threads through the middle third and you enjoy how it’s going, and by the final third you absolutely love it and are upset when it ends. This was such a book, and I loved it. Some of the rest of this review might need to be shrouded in spoilers, so you can have the same experience, but it’s clear very early on that we’re in a strange world here, with lots of history, and – it turns out – lots of earthquakes. Not all of which are triggered in the usual way. Turns out, there are some people in this world that can trigger earthquakes. Turns out there are those who can feel and control (to some extent) magma flows, the slippage of plates in the crust, the crumbling of rock, and other geological things whose names I didn’t know until I read this book. Really great world building – I can’t think I’ve read anything like this before. I can see why it won the 2016 Hugo Award!

Also, by the way, great storytelling throughout. The story unfolds from multiple points of view – a woman in deep distress, a second-person narrative, a strange creature born from the stone itself, and others. How they come together is the reveal of the middle section of the book. It’s a neat approach, and very well used, but not abused. No annoying super-powers wielded by super-humans, deus ex machina-style, but rather very human characters with flaws and strengths, struggling to come to terms with the world in which they find themselves.

SO, some great characters in here, a brilliant world setting for them, and an intriguing plot. It also has enough of a wrap-up at the end of the book for you to feel satisfied – you aren’t left poised on a cliff edge. Definitely want to see more from this world, though, and there is plenty enough left unfinished to justify reading the next book(s). A well-deserved five stars.

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