Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What I Read: The Fifth Season

Here I am, tearing through Hugo-winners like it ain't no thang. First it was The Three-Body Problem, now it's The Fifth Season. I've been having a good time of it so far; maybe my next reading project will be all of the Hugo winners?

N. K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season is what happens if you mix Beloved with apocalyptic dystopian fantasy. I don't think there's a better way to sum up the book than that.

Image courtesy Orbit
I enjoy speculative fiction as much as the next nerd, but even I have to admit that good writing (style, voice, overall sound) seems to be considered secondary to good story (ideas, pacing, suspense). Not that the two never mix, but they often don't. Say what you will about the old masters—Clarke, Dick, Asimov—there is a certain utilitarian nature to their prose, even when their ideas are complex. What distinguishes Jemisin from other sci fi/fantasy authors (at least ones I've read recently) is her command of language. The writing in The Fifth Season is actually beautiful. Lyrical, at times.

Everything else is also superb, of course: world building, plotting, dramatics, etc. But the writing is what sets it apart.

There is more to be said. I'm at a loss as to how to actually say it, so instead I'll direct you to Critic and FAN, a real life book buddy who recommended the book and even gave me his copy. In a nutshell:

I mean, there are whole sections written in second-person present tense, which I've hated in other books, but I didn't care and loved all of it. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy when I have some more time!

No comments:

Post a Comment