Unconventional, brilliant, and heartbreaking

The Fifth Season - N.K. Jemisin, Robin Miles I loved the first line in here, "Let's start with the end of the world..." How many books do that? As first sentences go, it's definitely among my favorites. Unlike her other books, this really does not stand alone. That doesn't bother me, generally, but many people don't like that. The book does a lot of things differently, compared to more typical epic fantasy. There are three protagonists. One of these POVs is told from the second person perspective, something I am completely unused to outside of Choose Your Own Adventure books, which I haven't read since I was a child. It took some getting used to, but I did. The writing is beautiful, and I became engrossed in the story. It became an oddity for which I correctly assumed an explanation would eventually present itself. The one character being told from second person created a few concerns for me. I was more attached to one of the other characters. The character the narrator refers to as "you" was introduced as a woman whose child had just died. It was a bit heavy and I didn't want to let myself identify too strongly with her. Were the other two characters less important than the one being told from second person? Should I be less attached to them? How did this fit together? Why the disparity? You'll be glad to know that before the end of the book, it will be clear how each of these characters, all women of different ages, fit together in the story. The revelation was initially shocking, and then heartbreaking. I expect that, to an extent, from this author, but she has really outdone herself with this one. The world portrayed in this book is a very dark one. The society is outright dystopian, although I would not describe the novel itself in that way. It's still fantasy, although there may be more technology than one might expect; there was reference to electric lighting, but there are no cars or trains, and they don't seem to have guns. It's odd, and it's interesting. One of the things I've really enjoyed about this author is the way she portrays relationships, and non-traditional relationships and families. This is no exception there. The relationships are complicated and not the sort of thing you tend to see in most books, certainly not fantasy novels, and you rarely see on television; certainly not prime time. This was a beautifully written but tragic, heart-wrenching novel.