The Fifth Season: Book Review By Dinh.
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS. FOR THE LAST TIME.
A season of endings has begun.
It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, from which enough ash spews to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.
It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.
And it ends with you. You are the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where orogenes wield the power of the earth as a weapon and are feared far more than the long cold night. And you will have no mercy.
Synopsis from Goodreads. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, paperback version contains 468 pages, copyright August 2015, and was published by Orbit.
Get ready for a satisfying read!
N. K. Jemisin’s novel The Fifth Season will pull you into its amazing complex world-building, skillful crafted characters and a highly exciting plot.
It is such a pleasure to read a good sci-fi/fantasy book. The Fifth Season is simply amazing!
Here’s what I liked best about the book:
Foremost, I am impressed with Jemisin’s method of story telling.
Jemisin does a wonderful job in using 3 narratives and then using the narratives as a guide to the story. At first they don’t seem to be related whatsoever but wait for it because it’s a good one. What a nice twist to have – and she pulled it off!
The 3 points of view Jemisin uses is a clever way to engage the reader. I found myself interested in all three points of view and wanted to know how their stories all relate. I will not say anymore about it as I don’t want to spoil it for the reader.
Not only does Jemisin bowl you over with her skillful writing, but she also manages to create a wonderful plot. The world building in this book is amazing!
This is a fantastic story about these people who live in a place called the Stillness, which is similar to earth. Some of these people born with special powers (known as orogenes) who can make the earth quake and destroy things and people.
Of course, they are seen as danger to regular people who have none of these powers. Orogenes are sent to the Fulcrum, a place that teaches them to control their powers and are watched by the Guardians, whose job is to make sure that the orogenes stay in line.
I love the conflict in this book among the main players in the story. The orogenes though with special ability, do not have the freedom to do as they wish, but are subjected to rules of the Fulcrum, and are not liked by the regular population.
I enjoyed the characters in The Fifth Season, they are interesting and well developed.
Not only does Jemisin excel with the plot, and the way she tells the story, but the main protagonist is someone you could relate to.
I liked the main protagonist Essun the most. We get her history in piecemeal and the book is not sequenced in a straight time line but delivered here and there. I liked learning her life this way as it added another dimension to the story.
Essun is a school teacher who discovers that her husband has killed their young son and has kidnapped their daughter. A grieved mother, Essun is on the rampage to find her husband to kill him, and save her daughter.
It’s hard to talk about the main character without giving away what happens in the book, suffice to say that Jemisin did an awesome job in making her character solid and developed.
Another character that I enjoyed was Alabaster. He’s a really powerful orogene (has the most rings) and can do simply incredible things. I liked that the connection he has with Essun, they are like chalk and cheese and their relationship is one of loyalty and love.
Cliff Hanger Ending
The Fifth Season does end in a cliff hanger so it got me hooked and I am ready to read the sequel The Obelisk Gate, to find out what happens next.
I didn’t like the way it just ended. Especially on a sad note. I was hoping for more. It’s doing what it’s suppose to by setting up for the next book.
Not all the questions are answered yet and some of the gaps in the world building is not finished. There’s more explanation of the world and what’s going to happen.
Another positive thing about The Fifth Season is that it brought up some themes that made me think.
I liked that it touches on genetic engineering. The concept of breeding a super powerful being, in this case, an orogene through selective breeding is not new (see Frank Herbert’s Dune). We find this not only in literature but in real history with eugenics programs, such of that of the Nazis.
I appreciated the cyclical historical patterns theme, that history will repeat itself, in this book. The whole book is a metaphor for this concept.
I also enjoyed the theme of power. Power is a double edge sword in this book. The orogenes have the special abilities but are used for their powers and have no say.
For example, on the island of Merov, orogenes are aspired and looked up to. However, in the Fulcrum, they are treated like inferiors and watched by Guardians to make sure they behave. Conflict and oppression are an underlying theme that explored through this balance of power.
Were There Any Negatives In The Book?
I did find it a bit confusing at the beginning with the prologue but it made sense after reading a bit and then going back.
You do have to read a bit more and give it a chance to get an understanding of what’s going on. The world building is complex and involved.
There’s so much going on in the world building that you have to pay attention. The appendix 1 and 2 does help, and the map of the Stillness at the beginning is also helpful.
My Final Thoughts:
I loved The Fifth Season for its cleverly crafted points of view. It astounded me how Jemisin structured the points of views to make twists in the story. I was engaged throughout the book.
I also enjoyed the complex world building and the rich characters in this tightly crafted plot.
I highly recommend you to read it.