This book was recommended to me on Twitter. I’d replied to a thread about SciFi and said I thought I didn’t like the genre until I read some SciFi by women, and cited Margaret Atwood, Ursula K LeGuin and Octavia Butler as writers whose work I’d really enjoyed. One person suggested I try this trilogy by Jemisin, and I’m glad I did. Personally I am surprised this is classed as SciFi. Is it the alternate world setting that qualifies it as part of the genre? It felt like fantasy to me but, either way, I loved it.
It’s a tricksy, twisty narrative, but to explain why would be to spoil some of the fun, so I’ll attempt to write a spoiler-free review. The narrative is split between three POVs -Syenite, Damaya, and a second-person narrative Essun. All three are orogenes, people with the ability to manipulate the earth and rock to create or stop earthquakes. Because of this catastrophic power orogenes are feared and shunned by the rest of society known as stills.
It begins with the death of a child and a quest for revenge, but this is woven into a wider story which questions the fundamentals of a society which is constantly threatened by mass extinction. The main characters are beautifully drawn and the world-building is rich and vivid, with brilliant expletives and fascinating customs and politics. It is absolutely not somewhere I would wish to live.
I’ll be ordering the next book in the series with my next paycheck and if you enjoy alternate worlds and (what ostensibly feels like) magic, I would suggest you grab a copy and lose yourself in 449 delightful pages.