Read & React: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – Chapter 2

This is the third blog installment of Read & React for The Fifth Season. If you’re new to the series check out the first installment here. Eventually I hope to take my notes from this and transform them into a Spoiler Free Review, but this segment will definitely be filled with spoilers since it is my thoughts as I go through the book. Reader be warned, this post is meant for discussion purposes; avert your eyes now if you wish to avoid spoilers.

2: Damaya, in winters past

Now the story is told in third person. Her Grandmother was Muh Dear (worked for Brevard’s militia as a seamstress). Damaya’s nickname from her mother is DamaDama, but Damaya hates this since loving nicknames no longer feel authentic. A place called Nomidlats is mention as an area where things are more civilized than in other areas of the world but it seems like Damaya is no longer in a civilized area. The way things are described by proximity it sounds like Damaya is up for sale and has been verbally and physically abused before. “Sess” is a new word introduced for this world – some people can sess big things like shakes, but Damaya can sess things as little as footfalls.

The “child buyer” doesn’t have a footfall that Damaya can sess and he’s oddly white unlike any other known human’s that she knows of in this world. (The way he’s described sounds an awful lot like the lady companion from the prologue.) When she joins him he presses fingers to the back of her head to make it easier to track her if she gets lost (I’m guessing he inserted some form of mineral he’s attuned to since it sounds like he’s some sort of earthen person). Damaya is also an orogene. The child buyer is taking her to Yumenes where she will be trained at the Fulcrum to use her orogene powers. As it turns out this “child buyer” is actually a “Guardian”. His name is Schaffa Guardian Warrant. Guardian is referred to as a use name.

Schaffa was sent on a circuit in Nomidlats and checked a telegram while he was in Brevard. Brevard is close to Palela (where they seem to currently be which must be a subsection of Nomidlats?) since Damaya has heard of it, but Yumenes is like a legend to her. Orogenes without training and isolation may accidentally hurt people. The Fulcrum exists to train orogenes. Orogenes can transfer the warmth and movement around them to protect themselves – which can lead to people dying. Later this is hinted at in a flashback where Damaya grabbed the air around her and made ice to support herself to get out of the mud.

Schaffa tells her that she “…is a gift of the earth—but Father Earth hates us, never forget, and his gifts are neither free nor safe.” (OOOOOooooo we have a Father instead of Mother earth – where’s this going or does the sex-moniker even matter?) When she starts to cry Schaffa tells her this is not safe to do around others (for show of weakness or do intense emotions cause orogene things to happen I wonder?).

Creche – a word for what sounds like might be school?

The chapter ends in another quote from the text mentioned in the prologue. (I wonder if we’ll ever get to know the whole text.)

Important Places:
Nomidlats – a region to the North of Yumenes
Brevard – the closest community to Palela
Palela – the place where Damaya was discovered as an orogene
The Fulcrum – the place where orogenes go to train; located in Yumenes

Important Things:
Father Earth – he gives gifts that aren’t free or safe
Creche – possibly the world name for a school?
Sess – the orogene ability to feel/hear earthen movements like footfalls or shakes

Important People:
Damaya – a young orogene from Palela who barely knows what being an orogene means
Schaffa – a Guardian from the Fulcrum; may be a earth person trusted in caring for orogenes

Read & React: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – Chapter 1

This is the second blog installment of Read & React for The Fifth Season (in case that wasn’t evident from the title). If you’re new to the series check out the first installment here. Eventually I hope to take my notes from this and transform them into a Spoiler Free Review, but this segment will definitely be filled with spoilers since it is my thoughts as I go through the book. Reader be warned, this post is meant for discussion purposes; avert your eyes now if you wish to avoid spoilers.

1: you, at the end

The narrator puts us in Essun’s shoes. (I really appreciate this style of storytelling since it is written in active voice and makes things feel interesting.) Essun is an “orogene” (whatever that means) who isn’t originally from Tirimo and has a husband named Jija who is a “stoneknapper of the Resistant use-caste” who everyone likes. Essun had two children one, Uche, is dead (in the living room, presumably beaten to death) and the other, a girl – Nassun, is missing. A boy, Makenba’s son Lerna, breaks into the house to check on Essun. Lerna takes Essun back to his house so she can recover from finding her son’s body.

Lerna is 15 years younger than Essun making him 27, but he looks older because his hair is turning gray as many Cebaki (whatever that is – presumably a type of people) do – and he’s getting premature wrinkles. (I’m not sure whether that’s a just him sort of thing or also a Cebaki trait.)

Many refugees have been funneling into town from the north. Sume – the town in the next valley over – has been destroyed by the shakes. Essun felt the shakes as they approached Tirimo and redirected them. (Because she’s magical? Is this something all people in this world can do or is it only an attribution of orogenes? – edit from later in the chapter it’s definitely to do with being orogenic and Lerna seems to be  the only other person in town that knows about it.)

Rask is Tirimo’s elected leader and won’t let anyone leave or come in, but Lerna wants to go heal the sick and wounded on the road and in the other towns. Instead he leaves his house to find Eran “the spokeswoman for the Resistant use-caste”. On a parallel note, apparently half the people in town think the three year old, Uche, was the epicenter of the shake and is glad his father, Jija, killed him. (We still haven’t actually met Jija to confirm it was him that did it, but we’re definitely made to believe he did it at this point.)

The chapter ends in a quote from the text mentioned in the prologue that is written in rock. (Are these rock tablets a form of religion? Probably.)

Important Places:
Yumenes – big, old, fairly modern city
Tirimo – mole people town
Sume – the town in the next valley over from Tirimo, which has been destroyed

Important Things:
Orogene – a person who can manipulate rock to an extent
Resistant use-caste – presumably a classification of people in Tirimo (this hasn’t actually been explained yet)
Cebaki – presumably another classification of people (this hasn’t been explained yet either)

Important People:
Essun – 42 year old mom from mole people town
Uche – 3 year old boy from mole people town who was beaten to death
Nassun – Essun’s daughter who is currently missing
Jija – Essun’s husband and Uche’s father, stoneknapper of the Resistant use-caste; he beat his son to death with is hands (or so we’re implied to believe)
Lerna – Makenba’s son, a Cebaki, some sort of healer/helper, keeper of Essun’s Orogene secret
Makenba – Lerna’s parent (might not actually be important – but who knows yet? not me … are they also a Cebaki? I have no idea)
Rask – Tirimo’s elected leader
Eran – the spokeswoman for the Resistant use-caste

Read & React: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – Prologue

I’m beginning my experimentation with writing a book blog. I’m not exactly the most eloquent person, so I’m not sure where my writing style will fall. But, practice makes perfect, and we all have to start somewhere. Evidently I’m starting here. I’ve never participated in a book club, but I want to talk about what I’m reading and share my feelings as I go through this series – hence the title Read & React.

Eventually I hope to take my notes from Read & React and transform them into a Spoiler Free Review, but this segment will definitely be filled with spoilers since it is my thoughts as I go through the book. Reader be warned, this post is meant for discussion purposes; avert your eyes now if you wish to avoid spoilers.


I’m finding this book very interesting immediately – which doesn’t happen too often for me. It starts in medias res but then switches to a different form of introduction that I’ve never seen before. It goes from introducing a mother and her dead son to switching to being “writ continentally”; the narrator’s voice is so nonchallant that I feel like I’m sitting in front of an crusty old person telling childhood stories.

I laughed when I read, “It moves a lot, this land. Like an old man lying restlessly abed it heaves and sighs, puckers and farts, yawns and swallows. Naturally this land’s people have named it the Stillness.” We learn that this story is set in an old city called Yumenes that was built not for safety or comfort but for bravery. We then hear balconies described as a rather scandelous feat of architecture. It almost sounds like a child full of wonder and awe describing things I would normally take for granted – which is refreshing and reminds me to be so thankful for what I have. There is a building called The Black Star which is a building made of 5 pyramids which are made of obsidian bricks, “because why not”.

But then we’re told that none of the things we’ve learned so far actually matter. … Well, ok then I guess.

We’re then introduced to characters we’re told actually matter, a man with a deep connection to the earth that is definitely not human and his companion who talk about stonelore which is literally written in stone. Somehow this man breaks the earth, I’m presuming this city of Yumenes and possibly more, in half.

Next is a form of time skip but I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a few years or a few thousand years with the way it’s described. (edit – after finishing the chapter I believe it is actually a set up for a time skip that could come)

We learn there are also giant sparkly floaty things in the sky (I might be exaggerating) which were made by a previous people that no one remembers, and no one knows why these things are up there. (That’s probably important – at least I want it to be important.)

Next, we’re introduced to the town of Tirimo, which is basically the polar opposite of Yumenes, where people live in the ground. We learn that the mother from the very beginning is named Essun and is 42 and the boy’s name was Uche and he was 3.

The last bit of context we’re given describes the valley surrounding Tirimo post cataclysmic rend in Yumenes. Many animals are crushed, but out of the ashes rises something rather seemingly new that imitates humankind but eats red crystals harvested from a geode. (Well actually this life form is probably a very old part of this world, but it sounds like it’s been made new/birthed by this most recent rend.)

Important Places:
Yumenes – big, old, fairly modern city
Tirimo – mole people town

Important Things:
Sky Obelisks?
Earth Rending

Important People:
Essun – 42 year old mom from mole people town
Uche – 3 year old boy from mole people town who has achieved freedom in his death
Unknown Character (UC) 1: male figure who rends earth
UC 2: marble person in the form of a woman who is with UC 1
UC 3: male figure that eats red geode pieces (birthed from the rend?)

Autumn Essentials Readathon Announcement

EDIT: I’ll keep the old content on this post farther on down the post for those interested to see how things have changed during the creation process. I’ll also be updating this post with the new information at the top as more development happens.

Update 3:
The notes have probably been tweaked since update 2, but I finally have bingo boards! I still need to work on the board for Team Pumpkin Spice, but things are coming along! Note: these may not be the finalized boards. There will be a separate posting for the official announcement with all of the finalized details.

Tentative bingo board for Team Cozy Sweater
Tentative bingo board for Team Boxed Wine

Update 2:
I’ve tweaked some of the original notes (again), but I don’t see a point of posting about it until everything is finalized. I do have new material to post about though! We’ve decided to do 9 prompts for each team so each team will have a 3×3 bingo card. I’ve roughly outlined the prompts for team Pumpkin Spice, but these may still be subject to change (hence roughly).

Rough Outline for Team Pumpkin Spice Prompts

I’m also trying to expand my view of what “fall” and “fall celebrations” can mean from across the globe, so I read a few articles and took some notes. I like to call my notes the cliff-notes version. They make sense to me, but I’m not sure they’ll make sense to anyone else.

Cliff-Notes Version of the 3 Aforementioned Links

Update 1:
With the advent of 2020 turning out as it has so far, I wanted to rename the readathon because, after talking to some friends, the general consensus was that “basic bish” is generally seen as a term reserved for white people, especially white women – and I really don’t feel like the world needs a revival of that kind of a thing as long as it’s seen as being so exclusionary. Do I eventually want to see the term basic bitch used as a form of endearment? Yes. Is now the current time to start pushing for that? Heck no. So, after talking about that subject a bit more with some friends I felt like a name change to either Fall Vibes or Autumn Essentials Readathon was in order. I put up a voting poll on Twitter, and you know the rest.

And that brings us back to the development of the readathon that I’ve been neglecting until today (27 July 2020) – for some reason I’m fabulous at procrastinating unless there’s a deadline. After looking at my notes from last year, this is what I have so far:

Screen capture of updated readathon plans as of 27 July 2020

Stay tuned to this blog post for more updates!

Original Announcement:
This readathon (edit: from here on out is the original post when this was formerly known as Basic Bish Readathon) is still very much in the brainstorming phase, but by September 2020 I’d like to launch the @BasicReadathon on Twitter and YouTube. Check out the video I made about it to learn more:

The First Basic Bish Readathon Video

Updates since this video include:

  1. I think I’m going to include teams to make themes easier:
    • Team Pumpkin Spice
    • Team Cozy Sweater
    • Team Boxed Wine (please drink responsibly)
  2. There will be book prompts to match with the 3 teams. As I/other founder volunteers come up with the prompts, I’ll list them here.
    • Team Pumpkin Spice
      1. Read a book with a pumpkin on the cover.
    • Team Cozy Sweater
      1. Read a book Emma Watson thinks highly of.
    • Team Boxed Wine
      1. Read a book that has a character with resting-bitch-face.
  3. Additional Idea: each team must complete a recipe consisting of pumpkin, spice, and sugar themed prompts.

If you would like to participate in founding this readathon (coming up with prompts/book suggestions for the prompts) or as a team leader or both let us know in the comments below or on Twitter!