Tag Archives: science fiction

The Fifth Season: A Review

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 4 of 5 star

Last year, in 2020, N.K. Jemisin showed up on my radar with her book “The City We Became” which was a big hit among some of the readers I follow online. But before I read that book, I wanted to read something off of her backlist first. So, this is why I picked up The Fifth Season trilogy.

I’ve only read the first book, but so far I am hooked. To be honest, I wasn’t quite hooked until after 100 pages. There is a bit of a learning curve with this book. It is a science fiction that is based in geology and seismology. The world keeps have these cataclysmic events that set everyone back to a more primitive time. If they prepare for it well enough, then they or their children might survive the dark years when the dust from volcanos cover the entire earth.

Not only does it have a vocabulary learning curve, but it’s a book that throws its reader into the middle of the story. There are different types of people in this world. Stills, who are just normal, every day people. Orogenes (or the derogatory name Rogga) who can create, quell, or monitor the earth’s movements and volcanos by using the energy and heat around them. This makes them dangerous to stills because that energy and heat could come from them, leaving them dead. Finally, we have the Guardians, a strange group of people who care for, train, and monitor the Orogenes.

The story follows three women (whose connection is revealed toward the end of the book). Damaya is a young girl whose powers have gotten the attention of the Fulcrum (a training facility for Orogenes). When a child shows orogene abilities, there is fear in the community. Some parents or community members can kill the child, though they are encouraged to contact the Fulcrum and have the child removed and trained. Damaya’s point of view is one who is new to the Fulcrum and to training.

Syenite is an orogene Fulcrum member who has been attached to a mentor, Alabaster. Not only does Alabaster continue her training, but they are also supposed to breed together. It really exemplifies the animal type treatment that these people receive.

Finally, Essun (her story is written in the second person which was jarring at first since each chapter basically changed POV) is a middle aged woman who is an orogene but hides her abilities. She lives in a small town with her husband and two kids. Her kids are both orogenes, but she hides that fact as well, until one day she comes home to find her son murdered and her husband and daughter disappeared. She knows that her husband killed her son and kidnapped her daughter, possibly not knowing that her daughter was also an orogene, which means she is in danger. Essun sets out on a quest to find her daughter.

It touches on dehumanization in a hierarchal society, something that evolved over time through each of the cataclysmic events (called seasons). In addition to all of the story and character development, there is also the mystery of these huge obelisks in the sky and the stone eaters, something that will probably be revealed and discussed in the following two books.

The book is excellent. There was no real information dump. The reader is just dropped into the middle of everything and must patiently pay attention to the details in order to catch up. But it is well worth it. Looking forward to the next books.

There is a profanity in the book. Sex is used for the purpose of breeding, especially among orogenes, further dehumanizing them. There are some hints to child abuse. Also there are multiple sex scenes, some described in detail, but I wouldn’t say they were steamy. There is also a lot of death. The son of Essun is very young when he is killed. There are stabbings, death by losing the heat in your body, mentions of cannibalism and turning to stone. This book is heartbreaking. I originally thought it was YA, but after reading it, it definitely felt more of an adult genre book.

Never Let Me Go: A Review

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
My rating: 3.5 of 5 star

I wish I liked this book more. I don’t know if it was because it was mostly in the first person or it was science fiction, but I just couldn’t get into the story. I do like some science fiction, and I’m sure I have liked books written in the first person (although, lately, the latter does seem to be a problem). I was just not really invested in these characters.

Kathy is a carer. In particular, she cares for donors until they complete. All of that process is what this book is about. As she goes about her job, she reminisces about her life growing up at a boarding school/group home called Hailshem. She has two friends, Ruth and Tommy. The three friends are pretty naive and passive, even when big pieces of information are dropped on them. Most of the book is in flashback.

The story seemed to drag in parts, but each chapter seems to set up the next which helps with pacing. The story definitely builds on itself with excellent foreshadowing. The twists were not particularly big or surprising. But because of the pacing, I would put the book down for a bit, and when I picked it back up, I wouldn’t remember some details so it would affect my reading.

The back of the book says that it is heartbreaking. While it is a sad book and just frustrating a lot of the time, I didn’t cry at the end of the book. I just felt that it was all unfortunate. But I did find it an interesting look at how people accept their lot in life sometimes with passivity and apathy. Sometimes the idea of revolting and fighting back just doesn’t occur to them.

While this book wasn’t really for me, if you like science fiction, a little romance, and a lot of flashback until everything is revealed at the end (with so many clues in between), you might like this book.

There is profanity in the book. There are both conversations about sex and actual sex scenes, but they seem to represent their innocence and naivete. Not much violence. There is talk about death and dying as a major part of the book. Some bullying and tantrums as well.