Ok, look. I haven’t done book reviews on this blog for a while. The reason is that as I move around in the publishing community, I’m meeting a lot of authors. It gets awkward talking about books written by people I have met or MIGHT meet.
So, don’t think of this as a review. Think of it as a recommendation. I read A LOT of books. Many of them are quite good. I plan on using this space to say nice things about books. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if any given book is right for you.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Yeah, yeah, The Fifth Season has exceptional worldbuilding and a fantastic magic system. I don’t care. I DON’T! (I kinda do) What I love about this novel is the depth of its characterization. Not only is it full of powerful, interesting characters, but these characters change during the events of the novel without becoming less compelling.
They solve problems or fail to solve problems, and then. Then! New problems! New values! Or, old values become important again! But it happens in a way that makes sense for the characters.
Let me put it this way: A lot of stories have protagonists who are wonderful but have ONE BIG FLAW. Then the story happens, they learn their lesson, and we’re done. Or, we’re watching episodes of House, M.D. and ALL FLAWS RESET AT REGULAR INTERVALS.
This book won the 2015 Hugo for a reason. A good reason. In my opinion The Fifth Season is a modern Fantasy novel at its absolute finest. It holds all of the jaw-dropping FANTASY that you expect from the genre, plus it demands emotions. Lots of them.
I also need to mention the last line, because once you read it you will feel deeply, deeply sorry for those of us who were not able to immediately go out and buy the next book. It’s not a cliffhanger ending. That would be mean. It’s just so unbelievably compelling that, well, you might want to make sure you can get your hands on the next book. (It’s also quite good)