A fresh, nuanced examination of the human desire to define itself in the face of societal norms.

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Telepath

From the Hive Mind series , Vol. 1

This sci-fi coming-of-age story finds young adults struggling against being complacent workers in a hive society.

In a future in which humans have abandoned the planet’s surface to live in crowded underground “hives,” world governments imprint instructions into the minds of their citizens. Criminals’ memories are wiped to remove criminality, and crime victims’ brains are similarly altered to remove their traumas. Natural-born telepaths, such as a teenager named Amber, are extremely rare and conscripted into service at age 18, when they must begin scanning citizens’ minds for violent intentions. Because of her powers, Amber is one of only a handful of people in her society who are allowed to retain their senses of self. As the head of an elite law enforcement team, she has all the trappings of wealth and power, but she begins to find that she can’t trust her own thoughts; she also begins to fall in love with Lucas, a team member whose mind is the most complex and beautiful that she’s ever scanned. Slowly, she realizes that a recurring dream that she’s had since childhood is a mental echo of a real event, when she was kidnapped and programmed by her hive’s enemies. With Lucas’ help, Amber must set a trap for the enemy agent who programmed her and find some way to protect herself, her family, and her hive from the unknown instructions hidden deep within her mind. Author Edwards (Earth and Fire, 2016, etc.), a prolific, Oxford University–educated sci-fi writer, offers the first installment of a new trilogy here. Although she rewards readers with several big revelations by its end, there’s more than enough mystery remaining to support two more books, as the clues are hidden in Amber’s memories, and her struggles to retrieve them reveal the hive’s true vulnerability: a society that wipes people’s memories can’t learn from its own history. With vivid prose, Edwards also manages to make the hive spaces seem vast or claustrophobic by turns; along the way, she also offers a thorough analysis of the costs of isolationism—to individuals and to a nation as a whole.

A fresh, nuanced examination of the human desire to define itself in the face of societal norms.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5370-8802-0

Page Count: 354

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

THE FIFTH SEASON

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 1

In the first volume of a trilogy, a fresh cataclysm besets a physically unstable world whose ruling society oppresses its most magically powerful inhabitants.

The continent ironically known as the Stillness is riddled with fault lines and volcanoes and periodically suffers from Seasons, civilization-destroying tectonic catastrophes. It’s also occupied by a small population of orogenes, people with the ability to sense and manipulate thermal and kinetic energy. They can quiet earthquakes and quench volcanoes…but also touch them off. While they’re necessary, they’re also feared and frequently lynched. The “lucky” ones are recruited by the Fulcrum, where the brutal training hones their powers in the service of the Empire. The tragic trap of the orogene's life is told through three linked narratives (the link is obvious fairly quickly): Damaya, a fierce, ambitious girl new to the Fulcrum; Syenite, an angry young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor and who stumbles across secrets her masters never intended her to know; and Essun, searching for the husband who murdered her young son and ran away with her daughter mere hours before a Season tore a fiery rift across the Stillness. Jemisin (The Shadowed Sun, 2012, etc.) is utterly unflinching; she tackles racial and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while chronicling the painfully intimate struggle between the desire to survive at all costs and the need to maintain one’s personal integrity. Beneath the story’s fantastic trappings are incredibly real people who undergo intense, sadly believable pain.

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-22929-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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THE OBELISK GATE

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 2

In the second of a trilogy (The Fifth Season, 2015) by the science-fiction columnist for the New York Times Book Review, the latest in a series of apocalypses marches on.

The powerful orogene Alabaster has used his powers to tear a blazing rift across the continent, and humanity faces extinction. Finding refuge in the underground comm of Castrima, the now-dying Alabaster struggles to impart vital information and skills to his former student and lover, Essun, which could potentially cease the flow of the tectonically devastating Seasons. All the while, Castrima faces tension from within—those who fear Essun’s rapidly growing magical powers—and without, as an invading army prepares to take the comm’s dwindling supplies for its own. Although Essun’s greatest desire is to recover Nassun, the daughter she loves, the girl always wanted to escape her mother, whom she perceives as cold and who imposed harsh training to discipline and hide her daughter’s orogeny. Nassun willingly left with her adored father even though he murdered her brother and violently loathes all orogenes. This uneasy father/daughter pair travels to a mysterious, distant community rumored to “cure” orogeny, where Nassun discovers a key figure from her mother’s past—but he’s no longer quite what he used to be. The worldbuilding deepens in this installment, with fresh revelations about the distant past and the true and alarming nature of the enigmatic stone eaters. But as in the previous volume, it’s the people who take front and center. Jemisin’s depictions of mob behavior are frighteningly realistic. And she offers a perceptive and painful portrayal of two different kinds of abusive relationships between parent and child. She also generates huge amounts of nuanced sympathy for some (but not all) of the characters driven to do truly dreadful things, often accidentally, to save themselves and the ones they love.

Stunning, again.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-22926-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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