The Fifth Season - an interesting start to the Broken Earth Trilogy.
The world known as The Stillness has the same four seasons as we do but it also has a fifth season that is very different from the usual four. The fifth season does not happen every year, in fact it can be over a hundred years between occurrences, but when it does come it lasts for many years. Unfortunately, so do the earthquakes, volcanoes, and acid rain that come along with it. Humans survive these harsh periods by following Stonelore that keeps each Comm prepared with food and supplies. The Orogenes also make a difference. Oregenes are magic users that are highly attuned to the earth and have the ability to influence the tectonic forces that plague the planet. The Fulcrum teaches this magical art and assigns rings to its students as they progress in Orogenic power. However, the combined might of the Fulcrum can't stop the fifth seasons from happening and one such season is about to start. All signs indicate it is going to be a long one.
This book is heavily dedicated to world building and there is a lot to absorb as you figure how human society operates on The Stillness. Orogenes are very powerful, but they are also universally hated, so when a child manifests such power it is either killed off or handed over to the Guardians to be brought to the Fulcrum. The Guardians are specially "trained" to be able to control Orogenes and they quickly establish their dominance over the young children they gather up because such children are a danger to everyone until they learn to control their powers. The story follows three female Orogenes - a young girl who has just discovered her powers and is sent off to the Fulcrum, a four-ringer who is living life as dictated by the Fulcrum, and a feral Orogene who has managed to keep her powers secret and who lives out in the Comms with the stills. Eventually their stories come together and set things up for the next book in the series.
The pace of this one can be slow at times, and I am not sure that any of the main characters are all that interesting, but I did enjoy the world created by Jemesin so I am looking forward to the next book in the series. Don't bother picking this one up unless you are willing to read the whole trilogy because this book provides little in the way of resolution. The audiobook version is narrated by Robin Miles and she does a good job with the material, especially since there are a lot of female characters for her to voice.