What It's About
The stories of three powerful female characters run parallel to each other in a world of constant seismic activity that is always threatening to end the world. These characters are members of an oppressed people who have the power to control this seismic activity either by sparking it or stopping it.
Essun returns home to find her husband has murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter after finding out that they are orogenes. As she mourns the death of her son and sets out to find her daughter, a cataclysmic event sets in motion the end of the world causing chaos.
Damaya, a young girl cast out from her family because of the magic she was born with, is taken to a "school" called the fulcrum where other people like her to learn how to control their abilities. She grows up, captive in this "school" always trying to find her place in the world.
Syenite, a young woman who has also grown up in the fulcrum, is sent on a journey with a more experienced member which proves to be more dire and complicated than expected.
What I Thought
I really enjoyed this post-apocalyptic fantasy book, but, not gonna lie, it took me a little while to get into the story. The only other book by Jemisin that I have read is The City We Became and I really noticed a pattern in the way she writes which leaves me always just a little bit unsure of what is happening. Especially in this book I noticed that throughout the world building, she almost assumes that the reader already knows about the world which makes sense in a way because when we are reading from a characters point of view, they do already know all these things about the world they live in. In a way I found it to make the story almost more realistic because it wasn't stopping to explain every little thing, but I also found it hard to follow at times, but that could just be that I have a five month old baby and my brain currently has limited bandwidth at the best of times. I did go back in the story to see if I missed something a few times, and it didn't seem like I did, but I could be wrong.
The story was so good. It reminded me of an adult version of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi which is very much YA fantasy but has a similar story line. I really enjoyed Children of Blood and Bone as well, but I did like The Fifth Season better and I think that it might have something to do with the fact that I may be finally outgrowing YA a little bit. I'm heading into my mid thirties so maybe this is a natural progression, but I am finding myself not enjoying YA as much as I usually do.
Anyways, the story was great, the characters were interesting and well developed and I loved the way that all the story lines converge in the end. There are quite a few really dark moments that are kind of spaced out throughout the story and they sneak up on you. The trigger warning would be harm/death of children. If that is subject matter that you can't handle, I wouldn't pick it up because it shocked even me and even squeezed a tear from my eye. I did have a bit of a warning about it from reading other reviews and there were quite a few people who said that they couldn't get through the beginning because it was too bad. So going in, I was prepared and I expected the worst. It was sad, but I made it through - really only to be smashed apart later own. It's a doosie.
The end of this book is what cinched it for me. It's the first book in The Broken Earth trilogy and I immediately wanted to pick up the second book, The Obelisk Gate, after reading the final page. The story was left on a really emotional note and on a real cliffhanger. What will happen?! ahhhh.