Category Archives: 2021 Book Reviews

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 94: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

After reading this first book of The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, I have crossed two reading rules that I thought I would never break:

1) You must like the characters to enjoy a work of fiction

2) You must be able to relate to the characters in order to have a true reader-writer connection in work of a fiction

Well, The Fifth Season broke both of those rules for me. I did not liked or related to any of the characters in this well-regarded, post apocalyptic fantasy novel.  However, I thought the world-building (an essential element in imaginative fiction) was outstanding and the characters were intriguing to keep me interested into finishing the novel.

The story takes place on an alternate earth called the Stillness, which is tormented by seismic activity. This leads to frequent near-extinction events called “Fifth Seasons” that keep people on pins and needles. The evidence of prior civilizations are scattered throughout the planet — ruined cities, incomplete ‘stonelore’ passed down from previous generations, and strange obelisks that float through the atmosphere like low-altitude satellites and serve no purpose. The civilization that we meet in the novel, the Sanze Empire, has survived for a long time by siphoning the power of orogenes — people born with an innate ability to control their environment. The orogenes can start or stop earthquakes. They can save cities, or gain power from living creatures and “freeze” them. Their powers are horrifying yet essential, so the empire develops a caste of Guardians who have the power to neutralize the orogenes when necessary. The orogenes are held in contempt and called “roggas” by ordinary humans. Despite all their power, they cannot control their own lives. They are either hunted down and destroyed or sent to the Fulcrum to be trained and used by the empire.

Jemisin tells the story through several characters and creates an interesting, multicultural world unlike anything I’ve ever read from a work of imaginative fiction. Representation comes in various ways and Jemisin crosses all types of boundaries in this story.

The Fifth Season is not an easy read and it does take at least 50-60 pages to get a handle on what’s happening in the story. Also, she uses a second person narrator that creates distant style of storytelling that is jarring upon a first reading.  Despite those reading challenges, I can see why this novel (and the subsequent books) have received so much praise and recognition in the science fiction and fantasy world. I will admit that I did not love this book from a pure reading enjoyment experience.  However, I did respect Jemisin’s imaginative storytelling skills and will continue on reading the rest of the trilogy.  There is a difference between reading a work of fiction that becomes a favorite than one which becomes one of importance.  The Fifth Season is the latter part of the prior sentence and I can appreciate the work on that level. Well done, N.K.


Marion’s Favorite Reads of 2021

Christmas has passed and 2021 is coming to a close in a few days. I have seen people starting to post their favorite books of 2021 and thought it was my time add to those posts. I’ve read 35 books this year (I’m currently finishing up The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin to make it… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 93: Soldier of the Mist by Gene Wolfe

What is it about memory loss that can make for a compelling story? Gene Wolfe decides to tackle memory loss in his 5th Century Greece historical fantasy series starting with the 1986 release of Soldier of the Mist. Soldier of the Mist tells the story of Latro, a mercenary soldier who has suffered a head… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 92: Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

Does a son have to repeat his father’s transgressions and life choices? It seemed like S.A. Cosby was trying to answer that question in his thrilling third novel, Blacktop Wasteland. I have seen this novel posted on my Instagram feed recently and several Goodreads friends posted about the book and I had to read it.… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 91: Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

I love book cover art.  I was scrolling through my Goodreads page recently and noticed one of my friends add Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine to their TBR list.  The beautiful cover got my attention, and I bought book the next day. Sabrina & Corina is the debut book of Kali Fajardo-Anstine and has… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 90: Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez

“Lies have short legs.” That is the opening sentence of Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez.  Camila Hassan says this proverb and opens a window into her double life as an Argentinian high school student by day and a Futbol player known as Furia after school.  Camila has kept her secret of playing Futbol from her… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 89: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I’ve had my eye on Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work over the past several years. I downloaded her first novel, Signal to Noise, on my Kindle a couple of years ago and her fourth novel, Mexican Gothic, I have seen throughout social media recently.  Moreno-Garcia’s work has been popular for some time. Gods of Jade and Shadow… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 88: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

“And so, by circuitous and unpredictable routes, we converge toward midcontinent and meet in Madison, and are at once drawn together, braided and plaited into a friendship. It is a relationship that has no formal shape, there are no rules or obligations or bonds as in marriage or the family, it is held together by… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 87: How Long ‘Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin

I have a question for readers.  Has there been an author or authors you have tried repeatedly to read? N.K. Jemisin has been one of those authors for me. Jemisin has gained recognition in the science fiction and fantasy genre over the past several years with groundbreaking works like the Broken Earth and Dreamblood series.… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 86: The Moon Lady by Amy Tan

Over the past weekend, I watched author Amy Tan’s Netflix Documentary: Unintended Memoir.  The documentary focused on the family relationships (especially with her mother) that helped form her art. I had read none of Amy Tan’s books before and the documentary gave me insight into how she became the writer that is beloved by readers… Continue Reading