15 February 2016

Buckets: A Review of The Fifth Season, N. K. Jemisin

Happy loves day has been an extended affair in this house; with the son showering his dear Momma with kisses for over a week, my Valentine's bucket overflows. Of all the moments of brightness that Kindergarten has brought, the bucket analogy our son's teacher wisely taught has been the most fulfilling. The children's book How Full is Your Bucket simplifies the conceptual idea of well-being, action and kindness through the metaphor of a bucket to symbolize a child's emotive self. I have been informed many a day that I have emptied the child's bucket for such indiscretions as asking him to put his shoes away, or interrupting an attempt to jump down the stairs from the very top. Cuteness aside, the bucket has unlocked a window into my son's soul, providing a means for him and I to express emotional health.

Although my heart bucket burst the moment my son arrived into this world, my reading bucket is a vast aquifer, slowly filling, drop by reading drop. Either by luck or research, my end of year pile has been a perpetual reading adventure resultant with me eager to declare each book the best yet. Thus is my predicament of today, freak the freak over N. K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season or stay cool, reserving my glee for the next possibility.

Ever age must come to an end, and so the novel opens with the destruction of the Earth, the fifth season. Cultures reliant upon lore as their only deliverance and a land that is less a provider and more a wielder of death, communities persevere in the knowledge that the end of days will most definitely arrive. The Earth is angry, Stillness the largest continent is a graveyard of past civilizations buried deep within the folds of strata. Amidst the carnage there are the orogene, humans able to tap into the powers of the Earth, drawing strength from it's core, either bearers of hope or of fear. And so we follow the lives of three:  Essun, the grieving mother, Syenite, a four-ring adept and the child Damaya, taken from her family to be trained in the ways of the orogene.  Each narrative masterfully crafted to weave into each other, highlighting the horrors that truly mark this world.  

Upon completion of only the first two pages of The Fifth Season I realized that this was not just an interesting story but an explosive tale that would overwhelm me to the very last moment. N. K. Jemisin is a master story-teller, convincing this geek that fantasy has as much to offer as my beloved speculative fiction. This is a story with three narrators, three plots, existing and finally cumulating into one. We open to the horrific scene of Essun, a mother discovering that her husband has brutally killed their young son and has vanished with their daughter. And while the grief bleeds from the pages, the novel was not an overwhelming display of violence. Rather, Jemisin's ability to fracture the exposition draws the reader in, forcing us to piece the puzzles of this world together, making for one incredibly entertaining read. 

This girl cannot say enough good things about this book.