”“When we say “the world has ended,” it’s usually a lie, because the planet is just fine. But this is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. For the last time.”
I waffled over a few different books here but, even at the risk of sounding cliché, ended up landing on The Fifth Season. Now, I should mention my other “Finalist” A Game of Thrones, but that series has been talked about to death, so, right or not, I decided to go with the absolute masterpiece that is The Fifth Season.
Now, the reason this book is so important to me is that it showed me what an author could do. The story starts out dark and doesn’t pull any punches. Without spoilers, the initial event is a heavy one, and had me immediately invested in the characters, but it went deeper than just being invested. By giving us a situation we just can’t look away from, Jemisin digs a hook deep into your soul. Ally that with a very cool magic system that the main character actually has to hide? Yeah, Jemisin is sending the message loud and clear here: Pay attention, reader. This is going to be one hell of a ride.
This beginning is special, but it’s only half of what makes this book keep a unique place in my heart. The other half is the risk Jemisin takes of writing an entire POV in second person. If you’ve read, studied or otherwise been curious about writing, you’ll probably have heard the advice of “don’t write in second person. The risk is generally too great.” Well, Jemisin doesn’t care, and the reason she takes the risk is what makes this special: it’s important for the complete experience. Now can people criticize it? Feel uncomfortable? Say the book is not for them? Probably, but people say that about every book ever printed. The thing here is, Jemisin puts experience above all else and she will not sacrifice that for anything.
That experience is what brings me back to my initial reason for why this book is one that made me. It showed me what could be done when you’re trying to create an experience, trying to truly transport the reader out of their world into the one you put down in words. It’s brave, and amazing, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. If you add that to expert prose that feels interconnected with small repetitions, sentence constructions and hints of plot twists that are spread out through all POVs, that is when you have an absolute masterpiece.
I haven’t even delved into the themes and social critique put forward by this book, but the fact is that it’s so seamlessly integrated that this is truly a book that makes you think about its message, rather than sacrificing story, and the experience, to yell the message at your face every couple of minutes.
What I most remember about reading The Fifth Season are the emotions it provoked in me. That will forever the benchmark of what I try to put forth in my own works. It’s truly a foundational piece of what made me as a writer. You may like the book. You may not. But what I can guarantee is that you’ll have a unique experience that you’ll remember for a long, long time. To me, that’s what stories are about.
Read Thiago’s New Book
What’s it About?
Avarin tumbles into madness through the shattered ruin of a centuries-old peace.
As griffin riders clash against airships above and hordes of madmen below, Lynn finds herself surrounded by enemies. Ones that will test the limits of her faith. To defeat them, she must risk everything… including her sanity.
Adrian has lost the Legion, but new magics on foreign shores might be the answer he needs to rebuild his army. His return to the Domain will bring vengeance, and the hope that he will finally prove himself to his father.
Nasha’s curse has taken on a new, terrifying shape. She dreads it could be just what the dead goddess needs to escape from Her prison within the Silent Earth. Will she be strong enough to resist, or will Nasha’s curse give rise to the monster she fears to become?
Madness is spreading and it cares not for the borders of men.
A Shade of Madness is the second book in the Ashes of Avarin series, picking up straight after the exciting conclusion of A Touch of Light