Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Release Date: August 4th, 2015
Format: Audiobook Narrated by Robin Miles
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD


Three terrible things happen in a single day.

Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes -- those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon -- are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.

She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
I have a little bit of a beef with this book. Not because of the content in it, but more in the way that it's been marketed to me and how other readers have talked about this book. I didn't even read the description when I clicked "Want to Read" on Goodreads, because SO many other book lovers that I trust recommended this. Had I did I wouldn't have been expecting Sci-Fi and been surprised to get a really immersive fantasy novel. This book was touted as Sci-Fi  to me, but when I started reading this, I was very confused because it seems to have more fantasy elements than anything else. The world does seem science-based, but to me this book screams fantasy. Again, nothing actually wrong with the book itself, just an observation about how this is introduced to new readers.

Once I started reading this and realized that the story is more a fantasy-based world, I started to get into it. I think that N.K. Jemisin has created a wonderful new world in this story. I liked that she really does not shy away from showing the harsh realities of this world either.  The class division between the Stills and the Orogenes felt so real to me, and having this sort of oppression in this world made sense in the story's context. I was really fascinated by the Orogenes, and I want to know more about why they let themselves basically be second-class citizens. They hold all the physical power, so it's interesting to me that they don't actually have power in the political landscape of this world. I want to know more about how they came to be. Is it a mutation? It is just a gift from "Father Earth" as one character explains in this book? There are a lot of questions I still have about this world, and I want to know if Jemisin will ever answer them.

The narrative in the story is unlike any I have ever read before. It's written with three different perspectives, but the first one we get is written in 2nd person. I have never read a book that uses this perspective, so I was really intrigued. I think it was hard to get into at first, but once I was in the midst of this book I had gotten used to it. The other two are written in 3rd person-limited, so they were much easier for me to follow. It took me awhile to figure how these three were supposed to work together, because it felt like I was listening to three different stories. I couldn't tell at first if these were told at the same time and they would all meet up at some point in the story, or if it was something else entirely. As the story progressed I figured out which way it was going, and was happy to see that my guess about it was correct! I know some readers are bummed when they figure things out too quickly in book, but I get a lot of joy out of it!

This book is definitely a dark novel with some cynical overtones. I am a very cynical person, so it was right up my alley! It is definitely NOT a book for young adults. This fantasy novel is a clear departure from the YA novels I read, and it was actually really refreshing for me. There is a lot of talk about sex in this, which I think is fine in adult novels. However there is a pretty graphic sex scene that I was woefully ill-prepared to listen to! I felt like it really didn't fit with the overall story. However, I do think it was interesting that the author was choosing to write about sexuality in a way that I am not used to reading about. So props to her for doing that, I just so wasn't expecting it!

I don't think I have listened to Robin Miles narrate anything before, but I could be wrong and I just don't remember. I think she did a really good job. I think she did some interesting accents for the different side-characters we meet in this novel along the way. She does the narration for the other books in this series, so I definitely want to try to listen to the rest of the books on audio.

This book can definitely be complicated at times by throwing in-universe vocabulary at you right away. So it might feel a little overwhelming especially if you are new to the genre. I read a ton of sci-fi and fantasy, so I was fine with all this stuff. If you are a fan of both genres and you haven't picked this one up yet, I say you should give it a try! I'm excited to read the next one.

What did you think of this book? Do it overwhelm you at all?

Happy Reads Everyone!