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The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)
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Group Reads > February 2017 - The Fifth Season

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message 1: by Yoly (new) - added it

Yoly (macaruchi) | 794 comments This month we will be reading The Fifth Season.

Don't forget to use the spoilers tag!

message 2: by Gary (last edited Feb 02, 2017 01:56PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gary | 1471 comments Interview with N. K. Jemisin on Youtube:

Another one (text):

Lillian James | 12 comments Ok, I thought this book was great, and I'm already reading book 2. I'm thrilled to find a talented and interesting new (to me) author. Anyone else finished yet?

:) Lillian

Gary | 1471 comments I just started in on it over the weekend. (I needed to finish up something first....)

It's interesting. I'm a little thrown by her use of language with is both informal and mannered at the same time. In the first couple of chapters, at least, I'm finding that a little odd.

Other than this one, I've only read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by Jemisin. This one has a comparable feel in terms of the epic nature and world-building, but it seems very different in theme.

Lillian James | 12 comments It's interesting. I'm a little thrown by her use of language with is both informal and mannered at the same ti..."

Her writing style threw me a little at first, too, but now I really like it. I think this is the only example of present tense 2nd person that didn't make me cringe. She makes it work, imo.

Gary | 1471 comments I'm about two thirds of the way through this one, and so far I think I like The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms better. The second person chapters are a little off-putting to me, but I can see why she did it. It's part of a larger decision regarding the structure of the storytelling with the plot laid out in series of timejumps. Putting the more contemporaneous chapters into the second person helps the reader figure out "when" s/he is in the story without having to telescope that with a sentence or two at the beginning of each chapter, or have something like GRRM style POV character chapter titles.

At this point, however, I'm not sure it was necessary. That is, the book could have been laid out in a simple linear narrative with the lead going from child/student to practitioner/mother to (view spoiler) as the first, second and third acts. She may have some over-arching story reason for telling her story more Pulp Fiction-style, though, and I haven't picked up on it yet, or it has yet to be revealed....

Lillian James | 12 comments Gary wrote: "I'm about two thirds of the way through this one, and so far I think I like The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms better. The second person chapters are a little off-putting to me, but I can see why she di..."

I haven't read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms yet, but I'll have to try it. And you do see a reason for the story telling style later, although it's sometimes a little confusing to me.

I finished book 2 and wish book 3 was already out. I just started Three-Body Problem, but I'm still kind of mired in Jemisen's characters right now. Having to take a break before I switch to the other book.

Gary | 1471 comments I finished last night, and having finished I can see the logic behind structuring the plot the way she did. If we break up the plot into "Young" and "Middle" and "Mature" storylines, going for the non-linear telling of the story meant she could pair up the climax/denouement of the Middle storyline with the conclusion/reveal of the Mature storyline. That makes a certain sense.

I'm still not 100% convinced that it made for a better overall book. For one thing, it meant she dropped the "Young" storyline around IIRC the end of the second act. In a more linear structure that could have just slipped into the Middle storyline.

By the end of the "second act" I was less bothered by the second person/present tense narrative, though it did still stand out here and there. The real problem with pronoun or tense in prose is really when an author shifts in the middle of a chapter, which is extraordinarily hard to do elegantly. The way Jemisin did it wasn't as harsh, so it wasn't as jarring, but I'm still not convinced it worked better than a standard 3rd person narrative would have.

The things that stand out in this thing are very similar to the things that I liked in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Jemisin is an amazing world builder. She has a handle on the difference between physical/material versus social/political power that I don't think any other F/SF author can match. The closest analogy I can even come up with is certain comic book authors. The Superman/President Lex storyline leaps to mind, for instance.

Certain aspects of the world-building I'm not 100% sure I get in this installment. The stone eaters, for instance, I'm not sure about. She premises a range of human advanced senses and developments, and I suspect more info on the origins/biology of the stone eaters is waiting for later books in the series.

Further, Jemisin's take on gender and race are fascinating. There's a real clear compare/contrast to be made with this book in particular and Morrison's Beloved. Were I were a college junior again, and in my African American Literature class, I'd be all over that as a term paper.

Overall, I don't know if this first installment fired me up to read the next two. I found the narrative/plot layout awkward enough that I'm having my doubts. I'll have to mull it over a bit.

Diamond I've read both books in this series...waiting on the new one later this year. I really enjoyed these books. Jemison is becoming a favorite author. I was not A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms fan though.

message 10: by Gary (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gary | 1471 comments They're reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms over at the SciFi and Fantasy Book Club, and I posted this over there before realizing it was as apt for this place as well... so here's a few thoughts:

I just finished The Fifth Season after having read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms a few years back. I liked both, but I'd probably say "Kingdoms" is the better book. She gets a little experimental with her timeline/plotting in "Season" in a way that I'm not sure was entirely successful or necessary, and there are a few bits of the story dynamics that I'm not sure make sense in within the context of the world building in "Fifth" that don't appear in "Kingdoms."

She creates a really interesting pantheon in "Kingdoms" and ties it into the cosmology of the world building and story quite neatly. At least, I found the mythology (which we can't really call "mythology" in the absolute sense because it is "real" in the context of the book) very interesting.

Jemisin's big picture, career-long target appears to be the concept of the "other" that is familiar to readers of comic books, but at the more adult and social level. That is, where someone like Spiderman or the X-Men deal with teenage levels of angst at being called "freaks" and, later, the more adult ramifications of being powered in a social sense, Jemisin cuts straight to the chase as it were. That is, she wants to know how society would develop in the context of these dynamics, not just how it might respond to them. In doing so, she makes her work an elaborate thought experiment in a way that I think a lot of authors aspire to, but don't achieve.

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