The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
This is the way the world ends. Again.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
This is not a fast read. It took me a bit of time to get through the first three chapters. They are full of world building, which is necessary, but felt very tedious. I found myself stopping and coming back again hoping to reach an easier part. Once I was over this, it was easy to sink in to the world of the Stillness.
The characters are extraordinary. The development of each one is thorough and compelling. From Essun’s devastating loss which she carries through the book, and at each point defines her actions. To Syen and Alabaster who are part of an organization working to tame their very nature. These characters face incredible horrifying scenes. They survive in a world in which they are oppressed for being different and extraordinary.
The Fifth Season is not a one day read. It needs time because there is so much to unpack. Once I give it the time it needs, I loved the resilience weaved into among the characters.
I give this 3.5 stars because of the start.