The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin
The Stillness, the sole continent in N. K. Jemisin’s expansive fantasy novel The Fifth Season, is anything but still, racked by volcanic and tectonic forces. Only the feared and hated orogenes (a group that includes the two central characters) can calm the continent sufficiently to allow civilization to develop. Jemisin’s impressive imagination is matched by her engaging skill as a writer. I found myself invested in the characters and eager to find out what happens next within each of the three interwoven storylines. (The Fifth Season is book one of three in the Broken Earth trilogy, but all three books have received a Hugo Award!) The Fifth Season is a story about love, family, and living with the threat of environmental catastrophe. Jemisin also deftly and thoroughly weaves in themes of racism, fear, and subjugation, examining through the characters how all suffer when one group demonizes another. Jemisin’s vision and the fantasy setting of the book helped spark a fresh reexamination of my own assumptions and prejudices in our real world.