I don’t generally pay much attention to awards. At most, if I’m reading a book and I saw it won an award, I’ll think to myself, “Well, that’s cool.” I don’t think, at least as my memory serves, that I’ve ever chosen a book to read because it won an award.
But I was curious about The Fifth Season, the 2016 winner of the Hugo Award. It kept making best-of lists, and people really, really seemed to like it.
So I read it.
I found it to be absolutely amazing.
First off, it needs to be said that the writing in the story is beautiful. The language was direct and straightforward and perfect. Every word that was written seemed perfect for the scene. I was reminded at times of Neil Gaiman’s use of language, which I always hold to the golden standard of language in stories. This wasn’t quite that good, but it’s the closest I’ve seen in a long time.
Second, the revelations in this book always got me. Granted, when I try to read a story, or watch a movie, I don’t like to try and guess what is going to happen. To me, it ruins the enjoyment. I like to just dive in and see what happens next. I remember getting to one part of the book, putting down my kindle, and actually saying out loud, “Holy Crap!”
I’m pretty sure I woke up my sleeping baby, which made my wife pretty mad.
Mental note: be careful reading amazing fiction around sleeping infants.
Finally, there was the sheer imagination of the story. All too often, it seems easy to me to want to retell the stories we all know so well. Dwarves and wizards and magic and good and evil. But The Fifth Season avoids these traps and instead presents us with a fresh world, with magic that is grounded in thermodynamics.
I always find recommendations to be tough. Without knowing the person, it’s hard to know what they’ll like and what they won’t. So, instead, I’ll leave it at this. I really loved this book.