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FoE Book Club > The Fifth Season - Final thoughts

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message 1: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 883 comments Mod
Sorry, I thought I posted this the same day as the others. I either forgot to hit post, or the internet died when I did and it didn't go through. My internet has been terrible during all this, i'm guessing due to increased at-home demand.

This is the section for overall thoughts about the book.

How is the theme of oppression explored in the book? Is this oppression individual or structural? How does it resonate with our own world?

What is the meaning of the words “rogga” vs. “orogene”? Why do you think Jemisin chose to introduce both words to the reader?

Does Father Earth hate his human inhabitants? If so, why, and what’s the meaning behind that?

What do you think Jemisin is trying to say about power in this book? How do the Guardians fit into that?

Did the connectedness between the three main characters at the end surprise you? Why do you think Jemisin used this narrative device?

Any other thoughts?

message 2: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 171 comments I think we see individual and structural oppression in the book (and of course they are in many ways related). Individuals' responses to orogenes vary from acceptance to violence, and the Fulcrum/Guardian system that is ostensibly supposed to protect them is in reality a way of keeping them subjugated.

The r-word seems pretty clearly analogous to the n-word: used derogatorily toward a group of people who are viewed as lesser, insulting enough to be frowned upon by polite society but still in common use, reclaimed in some measure for in-group use by the people against whom it has been weaponized. I don't think the similarity in the spelling/sound of the words is a coincidence.

I view the idea of Father Earth hating life as more of a fable or parable. It's a way for the people to describe the changes caused by the over-exploitation of the Earth's resources, and then ultimately by whatever happened to the moon (which I would expect to be some sort of resource exploitation as well).

I don't think we fully explored the Guardians in this book. They are nominally a check on the power of the orogenes, but are shown to wield their power with obvious cruelty in pursuit of this stated goal. It's implied that they (or at least some of them) are working for their own ends as well, and I assume the ulterior motives of the various factions are treated in the subsequent books, possibly showing how much power the Guardians really have.

Other thoughts:

I liked the way the author handled expletives in this world: Earth itself is tantamount to hell, and rust is the epitome of worthlessness or futility. However, people's bodily functions haven't changed, so those words are retained as well. Made-up curse words so often seem to serve primarily as cover for bowdlerization, and secondarily as a world-building shortcut, but the first is obviously not the case here, and it felt less forced, more organic.

This book reminded me of Dune in a lot of ways: a science fiction base for a story steeped in legend; a vividly presented world in which survival is difficult, but people adapt; a group of people with superhuman abilities who are feared yet whose services are sought, and who maintain a breeding program; chapter epigraphs from fictional in-world sources; me failing to muster much interest in the political machinations of various factions. (In my opinion, the Dune series rolls slowly down a cliff after the first book, and I always recommend people read just that one; I'll let those who've read the rest of this trilogy comment on whether I should get around to the other two or not.)

message 3: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 883 comments Mod
Rebecca, I personally found that the books got better as it went on, with stone sky as my favorite. She did win a Hugo for every book in this series, first author to ever accomplish that if you put store in awards. I bought the whole trilogy recently, though I’m still waiting for it, so I can re-read it all again!

message 4: by Shel (new)

Shel (shel99) | 279 comments Mod
I'm about halfway through book 2, and it just keeps getting better :)

message 5: by Megan (new)

Megan | 238 comments I think the book deals more with structural oppression - we don't spend enough time with the oppressors to really know them on an individual level (I'm guessing that might happen more in the subsequent books of the series?), so to me the characters doing the oppressing in this one appeared more in their roles in society to illustrate the broad issues.

I agree with Rebecca about the parallels between "rogga" and the similar word in English - I thought it was interesting that both are derived from words that are, at face value, neutral descriptions of a difference between the person describing and the person being described, but it didn't take long for either of them to become pejorative to the point of using them being a form of violence.

Based on how things were set up, I'm going to guess that Father Earth is addressed more directly in later books. But just going by this one, I don't think he hates humans, but is annoyed and disgusted by how they treat him and each other.

The guardians are another topic that are probably explored more in future books - I had a hard time figuring out if they were supposed to be sort of a foreman/overseer class, or if it was supposed to be more like probation/parole officers. Like whether the relationship with the orogenes was supposed to be better but had devolved, or if it was always supposed to be adversarial.

I started to get an inkling about two of the characters being connected about halfway through, so then I wasn't sure if the third fit the same way or if it was someone different - but it made the most sense for all three to match up if two of them did. I thought that was a really cool way to handle jumping around in time while telling the story.

I definitely enjoyed this one and will read the next one when I have a chance.

message 6: by Jody (new)

Jody | 2 comments I completely forgot I was reading this book along with you guys...just finished book two actually.

Apparently I’m not a very good “book club discussion-est” because I didn’t really think much past liked it didn’t like it.

Which incidentally I did like it very much. I “read” it on audio - so I feel like it took me forever to put it all together that we jumping around time wise. I also feel like I didn’t grasp the intro at all - I had to go back and resisten to the intro after I’d finished the book to better understand what was going on.

I found your thoughts and discussions really interesting and reading them deepened my enjoyment of the book. Thank you for that.

Hopefully next book I’ll remember the book club part of it 😉

message 7: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 883 comments Mod

Participation is always welcome, but no pressure! Totally fine if people just want to lurk or read along quietly. I know it can feel like a lot of pressure to think of something to say!

Don't be afraid to post though, even if all you want to post is that you enjoyed it or didn't enjoy it. All book related thoughts are welcome!

message 8: by Megan (new)

Megan | 238 comments Yeah, Jody - I lurk in discussion threads all the time in my other GR groups - sometimes it's years before I get around to reading the book, but it's cool to be able to go back and see what other people thought - it often makes me notice things I'd overlooked! This must have been an interesting one to do on audio - did you read the second book that way as well?

message 9: by Jody (new)

Jody | 2 comments Megan, I think listening to the audio version definitely enhances my experience with this kind of book. I sometimes get hung up on how words sound and unfamiliar terms will throw me out of the story - audiobooks eliminate that. The draw back is that it took me eons to get the timeline jumping- I spent way too long trying to figure out how the three storylines fit together. I also listened to book two & book three audio is on hold! I do live a well read audiobook :)

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