The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin (2015)
There are people in this world called orogenes or, disparagingly, roggas. They can sense and control movement within the earth, stopping or causing earthquakes, and moving the earth's plates. There are three stories about orogenes in this book. One is about Essun, a woman who's toddler son has just been murdered by her husband. One is about Damaya, whose parents have just reported her and she is removed by a Guardian who watch over people like her, keeping her under control while teaching her how to effectively use her powers. The third story is about Syenite, paired with a man named Alabaster to hopefully breed and create another person with the same powers. Although orogenes are powerful, that power can be controlled by Guardians and orogenes are basically treated as slaves.
It took me quite a while to get into this book. I was initially rather disoriented and confused, but also intrigued. The world-building was pretty amazing even if I didn't quite understand it. After finishing I went back and read the prologue again and it made much more sense this time - I sort of wish I had done so earlier in the book. There are still things I'm a little unclear about, like the role of the obelisks that hover in the air, but I expect some of this will become more clear in the next book, The Obelisk Gate.
It's very dark, and an unpleasant world to be in, but nonetheless compelling. Getting to know the characters and their motivations is a big part of what I like about this book, particularly since they're all in such desperate situations. It's also kind of a tough book to say much about without spoiling it.
I'm very grateful to a coworker who told me I should be sure to have the second book on hand because I would want it when it finished. Initially I wasn't sure I'd move on to the second book, or maybe not right away (this is an unpleasant world and I thought I might want to read something light and funny between books) but I'm glad I heeded my coworker's advice. I went home on Friday with close to 100 pages left, thinking I might finish it over the weekend and instead finished that evening.
I've already moved on to The Obelisk Gate and should have a post about that one before too long!
This was on my 2018 TBR Pile Challenge and is probably the final one that I'll read. The remaining title is NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, but my interest has waned in favor of some of his other work. But since I read both of my alternate titles, I can consider the challenge completed.