Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found a lot of positives in this book. It was deep in a many areas. The magic system is complex, and is probably my favorite feature of the whole book. The characters are compelling, and it is easy to care about their struggles. You want them to win. The pace of the book is great, once you get in to it. It did start a little slow, but I think that is because it was complex enough that it just takes that long to get the background you need to understand what's going on. Once you're in though, it moves along well. Finally, while this is solidly in the fantasy genre, for the reader there is a mystery aspect that unfolds as you're introduced to different characters and you slowly figure out how they are related. I appreciated the ah-ha moments that brought.

But even with those positives, I can only give it 2 stars. There were too many obstacles for me to really enjoy all of the positives I just listed. I'm going to try to avoid spoilers, at the risk of making this unintelligible. While I said that the magic system was complex, it's also true that the plot was complex. It jumped from place to place, changed time frames, with characters that appeared and disappeared, sometimes to reappear later. Or not. While I said it is easy to care about the characters, that is because they are well written. Unfortunately, I didn't like them, especially the main character. She was well written, but made no sense. Her lack of attachment made no sense. Realistic, I suppose, but if I met her in real life, I also wouldn't like her. In a real world context I would see her as a self centered, I'm-a-victim, whiny type of person that is all about "finding herself". In short, annoying. I'm also not a fan of sex-as-a-plot, which I felt this degenerated into a few times. This wasn't constant, but occasionally there could have or should have been deep relationship or emotional development, but instead there was just sex. Blah. Maybe that's how the author sees the world, or maybe that's just the main characters being shallow people I wouldn't get along with. Either way, I felt it detracted from what could have been a 5-star story.

In short, I think I'd enjoy a retelling of the conflict in this world from a different set of characters, and from a different point of view. The writing, world and magic system had a lot to offer, but I think we were let down by the characters, plot line, and overall complexity level.