The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Publisher/date: Orbit; Reprint edition (August 4, 2015)
Genre: Adult Dystopian Fantasy
Series: The Broken Earth
"Pain is what shapes us, after all. We are creatures born of heat and pressure and grinding, ceaseless movement. To be still it to be...not alive."
It starts with the end of the world.
As many books do. But we are sent back in time, before the end of the world, to see what brought it about, from three points of view.
A young girl, disowned from her family because she is a race of people who can move the earth with just a thought, called a Raga. She is rescued from what will probably soon be a village lynch mob by a Guardian, the keepers of the Origins.
A teenage Origin, a Raga trained by the Fulcrum to be a tool under the guard of the Guardians, bred for their skill and killed at the will of the Guardians. All for the good of the people.
A mother, whose husband beat his own child to death when he found out that the toddler was a Raga. She goes in search of this worthless piece of trash because he still has her daughter, also a Raga.
It is important for me to note that Raga is the racial slur people use, while Origin is what the Fulcrum trained Ragas call themselves, to hide from the fact that while they are not murdered on sight for what they are, they are still slaves.
This is really an amazing story if you're ready for a deep and meaningful read. Sometimes I was frustrated by the areas of slow pace, but they were always followed with fast-moving action. The author explains this in the interlude, in terms of terraforming, as a central theme and metaphor in the book. "There was peace in long stretches between each crisis. A time to cool and solidify before the grind resumed."
As a whole, this book is about racism. About people being worthless because of how they were born, not because of who they are. About how those people experience life, in constant fear of degradation. But in an entertaining and sci-fi style format that will entertain the masses. It's books like this that can cause our culture to progress. It takes a common theme, that people ignore and cannot recognize, and portrays it in a different way, a way that may make it easier for people to understand. A way for people to empathize with the oppressed. Books like this are important to our society. Books like this are why libraries are the true backbone of this nation.
I believe that the prologue of the book actually sums it up very well in one short, concise thought:
"For all those who have to fight for the respect that everyone else is given, without question."
4 stars, I'll be reading the sequel.