The Fifth Season, The Broken Earth #1 - N.K. Jemisin (2015)
If you're someone who needs each novel to have its own resolution, then you may have a problem with this. This is a single book split into three. The first book sets up the world and establishes the primary characters involved. As for the writing, I've seen several people express dissatisfaction with its usage of "you", but I thought that was fine. There's almost always something happening so there aren't really any dull moments or times where the story is lacking in action, but if you're looking for regularly occurring warfare, battles, or heroic combat, this isn't that. There are a few impressive demonstrations of magic in combat and otherwise though.
In terms of themes, anger and resentment are the foundational concepts upon which the entire narrative relies from start to finish. Oppression and injustice are primary concerns of several of the characters. Jemisin is very passionate, perhaps excessively so to the point of indiscrimination, about her beliefs in whichever medium she engages. How you feel about that may greatly impact your enjoyment.
This may be a grimdark dying earth series. It starts with a traumatic event and many more follow. Their civilization follows the cold equations of survival due to the precarity of their existence since at any time there could be a global catastrophe that wipes out everything they've built since the previous catastrophe and there have been many. One could reasonably argue that all of the characters are villains and that it's only a matter of scale depending on how many, how much, and how often they harm others.
Magic is inherent and biologically based. However, it can only be actively used by those whose magical organ is overdeveloped. Everyone else can only passively sense what is happening. The magic seems to be based on thermodynamics, where potential energy is drawn from a source, which decreases its temperature, to affect the target with kinetic energy. A few different ways to use it are shown, but overall it seems limited in application so far, at least compared to the typical magic system. This could be considered a moderately hard magic system, though Jemisin has a blog entry titled "But, but, but — WHY does magic have to make sense?" arguing against systematized magic, but that precedes this book by three years.
Its strongest point for me was its novelty. It isn't a standard science fantasy novel by any means. If you're looking for something relatively fresh, then you may be interested in this, as I found everything about it to be interesting. It certainly has left me wanting to know and read more.
I'll be reading rest of the trilogy, though I hope it doesn't go how I think it will. The rating is provisional based on whether my assumptions are correct. This would be rated higher, but what I speculate to be the overarching goal is utterly disagreeable and extremely corrosive to my enjoyment.
Rating: 3.5/5 (provisional)