Tag Archives: African American Fiction

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.


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

Icon #13

Buck Wild is on the scene! He is taking names and delivering punishment to anyone that stands in his way in the city of Dakota. However, he is under the spell of Lysistrata Jones and her magical whip.  Buck Wild can not resist her control over him.  As a result, she has her muscle bound… Continue Reading

Icon #12

“Don’t forget, you’re a full-time student and a part-time superhero.” Icon told Rocket the aforementioned sentence at the beginning of Issue 12 while they were saving someone from being robbed.  Rocket has been trying to manage her life of high school student, superhero, and pending motherhood.  One of her good friends, Josie, came to school… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 83: Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce

If you live to be 110, how would you look back at your life?  With Fondness? With Regret? Missed Opportunities? Or At Peace? The protagonist of Denny S. Bryce’s debut novel, Wild Women and the Blues, gets to answer that question. Honoree Dalcour is in mid-1920s Chicago during the heart of the jazz age where… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 78: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

“The easiest thing in the world is to be yourself. The hardest thing in the world is to be yourself.” Those two sentences were appropriate for one of the two major characters, Opal Jewel, in Dawnie Walton’s excellent debut novel, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev. Walton told the story of the early 1970s… Continue Reading