The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin:
The Fifth Season has been out a while (the sequels are out too!), but I just read it for book club — it’s really top notch science fantasy. Built on the premise that some humans have the biological means to manipulate the earth (called orogenes/rogga derogatorily) — The Fifth Season is a well-built world with a fascinating history and a compelling plot. Jemisin explores so much of how humanity chooses to treat each other; the way that prejudices form and the way they are institutionally maintained–it’s powerful writing that makes the world painfully familiar amidst all the unsteady upheaval of new information. Jemisin also slam dunks the incredible power of the earth and the natural devastation that can follow something like a volcanic eruption, or an earthquake that tears open the ground. Fair warning though, the plot does revolve around the abuse humans heap on each other and it is brutal — I read this fast because I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it!
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater:
I’m halfway through The 57 Bus, this year’s recipient of the Stonewall Book Award for Young Adult literature. I rarely pick up teen nonfiction, but this remarkable book is proving I should do it more often. Dashka Slater tells the true story of two teens from Oakland whose lives converge for 8 minutes every day– while they ride the 57 bus home from school. Sasha, who identifies as agender, was wearing a skirt on the bus one day, which catches the eye of Richard and his friends. One reckless act leaves Sasha in the hospital and Richard charged with two hate crimes, facing life in prison. This is an expansion of Slater’s 2015 article in The New York Times Magazine, “The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland,” and the book dives even deeper into the complexities of gender, sex, class and race, as well as the challenges of the criminal justice system. This book is personal and complicated, but Slater’s writing style makes it a total page-turner.
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer:
I have this thing about reading books before I see the movie, so I’m reading Annihilation this week! And I am so happy I am. It didn’t take long for me to get immersed in this novel, either. Mysterious, scary, and nerve-wracking, this book deserves all the hype it has gotten throughout the years and will surely receive after this film. I’m nearing the end, and having no idea what’s going to end it all only adds to the mysterious and exciting environment I have found myself in.