Tuesday, April 7, 2020

NK Jemisin - The Fifth Season

This is the way the world ends... for the last time.
It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.
It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.
It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.
This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

Comment: I had this book in my TBR since 2015 because someone whose opinion I tend to agree with has praised this all the time. I got it with discount months ago and now dived in, hoping to be as dazzled by it as many other readers were. However, it quickly became evident this would not be a winner for me.

In this dystopian/fantasy story, we have a rich and detailed world in an alternate reality where Earth has evolved into being a harsh place to live in. It also happens some people are born with the ability to control the earth, which might mean earthquakes and other changes in how the land is affected.
To prevent this, some powers/entities have learned to contain it by controlling the people who are born with those powers, which means this is an unfair society, exploiting those who can't defend themselves, "for the greater good". 
This story develops through the eyes of three characters during several years and the last pages reveal something incredible to contemplate...

I disliked this book.
There is really no need to have euphemisms or try to soften the reality because I didn't have a good time reading this. I preserved because I still think the idea of this novel to be amazing and I wanted to see if the end would be worth it. With so much accolade and prizes won, I didn't want to feel left out of the "party" but all readers know it's a matter of taste, of timing, of mood, of that story making sense and working out for you in a way it might not for someone else. 

The whole dystopian setting was actually interesting, as was the overall sense I got from (what I understood of) the plot. This idea that there are people who are able to accomplish some things and are used by others for some purpose is not new but that people command the earth and the planet, affecting everyone, was really innovative.
There's this sense of urgency and suffocation through the novel, as if the dust and the aridness of the surroundings were affecting the reader too.

I think the story and eventually the plot too were quite amazingly thought of and idealized. I confess I didn't have it easy in following the pace and the characters' movements to fully understand what was happening but I can still identify the situation as desperate and the descriptions, the ideas as good ones.
Like I said, though, I disliked this book. That happened because of the writing and the narrative style. I didn't like how the three main narrators weren't so easily distinguishable, how their actions were filled with vague notions and descriptions and things that were supposed to be obvious but I felt weren't and that gave me the notion this sort of mysterious vibe was on purpose. It was and in the end we discover why but by then I was completely lost to savor it.
One of the narrators is portrayed as "talking" in the second person to the reader and talked about by the narrator in the second person too. How odd and difficult to focus having to read like this.
It was very difficult to keep track of who dis what and what was happening. (the names didn't help me either)

As the story moved along so did my confusion. Perhaps it's my fault, after all I was not paying enough attention, I was easily distracted instead of really trying... I don't know if I didn't treat this book fairly but I read it all (ok, I skimmed some pages here and there) and the end still failed to impress me. I was tired by then, of trying to understand he beauty of the world presented, even if it was meant to be an ugly one, that I simply wanted it all to be finished.

This has won prizes and I could say it's perfectly deserved but that, for me, the story didn't manage to entertain or dazzle me and I didn't get most of it.
I almost graded this a DNF but I tried to see what the hype was, could the end magically make it all worth it? I thought not and I was just glad it was finally over.
I see many readers loved it and I think I could too but the author's style just isn't for me.
Grade: 2/10

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