The Fifth Season Book Review

The Fifth Season: Book Review By Dinh.

4.5 stars



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.

Find N.K. Jeminsin: Website |Twitter |

The Fifth Season Book Review


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:

Excellent Writing.

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.

N K Jemisin The Fifth Season A Novel
Fantastic Plot

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.


Great Characters:

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.

  • Essun

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.

  • Alabaster

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.

Jemisin The Fifth Season

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.


Contemplative Themes

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.


The Fifth Season is available here.  Or listen to it for free with an Audible trial.

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27 thoughts on “The Fifth Season Book Review

  1. One of your very best Book Review I have read! I was left with the feeling of yearning to read the book! Well done indeed! Keep the quality coming!

    1. Hello Burt!
      I am so glad you enjoyed the review of The Fifth Season.
      I was nicely surprised how well she writes and how her story just flowed.

      I really enjoyed it and hope you get to read it.

  2. Thank you Dinh for your wonderful book review, a pleasure to read. I can see where your passion lies, you have bought the book to life without giving away too much of the content.

    You have me hooked and intrigued enough to want to make a purchase 😀😀

    1. Hi June!
      I am happy to hear that you enjoyed the review.

      I thoroughly enjoyed The Fifth Season and hope that you will too!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. It sounds like this novel was nothing but good for you! I am so happy you could fall in love with a sci-fi again. When a novel is well written, you know it’s the beginning to you enjoying it a lot. And it sounds like it was the perfect balance of action, suspense and as well as that had a deeper meaning running through it for you to think about. I’ll have to check this one out for myself now!

    1. Hi Olivia!
      I think you’ll enjoy this novel. I was nicely surprised how good it was. I would have given this five stars except it was a bit confusing at the beginning.
      The world building is complex and intriguing and I loved the narratives as well.
      I’ll be interested to see your thought on this when you read it. 🙂

  4. Another great book review! Thank you, Dinh! Although I am not a fan of fantasy books but when I was reading your review I found myself interested to read this one! I will definitely check it out as soon as possible!
    Best wishes,

    1. Hello Rebecca!
      Oh I am glad that this book piqued your interest.
      It’s good to read something that we don’t normally do. You might surprise yourself with enjoy it! 🙂

      Thanks for popping by!

  5. Hi Dinh,

    This series does sound very good! The thing with epic fantasy is that it requires a bit of patience to get up to speed with the world-building. I normally don’t mind if there are other things that keep me engage. And, this one definitely seems to have a lot to offer. I’m especially interested in seeing how the three POVs converge at the end. I haven’t read any books by N. K. Jemisin. But, she’s definitely on my radar now! Thank you for your thoughts.

    1. Hi Lonna!
      You’ll enjoy this one!
      This book has so much going for it- great writing, good plot and fantastic characters.

      Let me know what you think when you get a chance to read this. 🙂

      1. Of course, Dinh! I’m nothing if not full of book thoughts. 😀 I probably won’t get to this for a bit–lots of ARCs–but one day and hopefully soon. Thank you again for sharing.

  6. Sometimes sci-fy, fantasy and dystopian cross genre lines with me, plus they all seem to have different levels of being “heavy” in their categories. Your review did a great job explaining this book, and I see you went back to re-read the beginning again to clarify some details possible? I find myself doing that after reading a part of the book, and going ah ha! so now I get it! It’s nice to have a futuristic read once in a while just to change things up! Nicely done.

    1. Hi Linda!
      The first part of the book was confusing as you are introduced to a whole new world and characters. There’s a lot of info to digest. I read it and continued to read until everything got a bit clearer then went back to read the beginning again to understand it. I do that with quite a few books it seems. The significance of the beginning only becomes apparent at the end.

      I love changing things up as I can be bored too quickly.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

  7. I really enjoyed your review of The 5th Season. It was very thorough and makes me want to read the book-I love science fiction. I too hate when endings are sad, although the cliffhangers at the end do leave you wanting more.

    1. Hi Julie!
      I am glad that you want to read this book. It’s great, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

      I was enjoying the book and didn’t want it to end… it’s a good sign though. 🙂

    1. Hello Cee!
      Jemisin is an awesome writer and I am glad that I started reading her books.

      It’s great to have read a satisfying book!

  8. This sounds pretty good, i might check it out. I love sci fi, or skiffy. In fact my favourite book is probably Forever War. Have you read the rest of the series?

    1. Hi Joe!
      The Fifth Season surprised me with how good it was. The strength of the book is the points of view and the world building is the also great. If you love sci-fi/fantasy then you should check this out. I am sure you’ll like it.

      I have not read the Forever War series so I will add that to my ever growing list to read. Thanks for the recommendation!

      I have not read the sequel The Obelisk Gate yet, but will do so soon. It’s definitely a series that I want to finish. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by at Arlene’s Book Club!

  9. Your review makes this book a very tempting read. I too like different ways of writing as this adds character and avoids boredom. Points of view – well with so many people in worlds there has to be many points of view. So to write this way parallels reality very well.

    As you have noted I also find that many unlike people get on so well. Once again this makes life interesting. As for doing great things, the natural support these people give each other really helps the great things occur.

    When we were young, many years ago, we lived in remote areas. The weekly shop was an odyssey for the whole family. In those days the town cinema had a children’s program. This started with cartoons, then some music and then a kid’s movie. This was great as the parents dropped us off at the cinema and picked us up after shopping.

    We looked so forward to the next week as the movies were mostly cliff hangers. I love these as the anticipation builds up as the next instalment approaches. It sounds like N.K. Jemisin has done this very well as you are already waiting to read the sequel. At least you have a chance, however remote, of complete and happy ending.

    I am of two minds on genetic engineering. In itself it sounds fascinating but, as with many things, what people use it for could be quite scary.

    The cyclic nature of history can be seen even in our non-science fiction world. And what surprises me is how no-one seems to learn from it.

    And now to explore this author more thoroughly.

    Finally I like the way you don’t give too much away. I try to do the same thing when writing my reviews. I hate knowing what the book is about as it ruins the story for me.

    Actually this is true for many things. I haven’t even seen some movies I might have liked as too much was revealed before I could get to them.

    I will see you around.

    1. Hi Helen!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      I think a review should give you an idea of what to expect in the book but not to have everything told. Some times though the plot is more character driven so you do have to say what happens. I think people should just come out and say if it’s a good read and to read it or not.
      I read some reviews and it sounds great but when you read the book it never turns out that way. We all have our views so I tend to go to people I know what my tastes are.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  10. Your review was very compelling! I haven’t read sci-fi in years, but this one sounds like a winner. Thanks for such a thorough review!

    1. Hi Linda!
      Thanks for the compliment:)
      The Fifth Season is a great book and I hope you get a chance to read it.

      Thanks for stopping by at Arlene’s Book Club!

  11. Thank you for the article. I am trying to get back into reading books and looking for a great read. It is nice to know it is Part 1 of a Series. Will definitely check out this book. Is this author, Jemisin, known for any other books? Or was made into a movie? Thank you.

    1. Hello Reggie!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      It’s always a good idea to get back to reading with a good book. This book was very good so I am glad you checked it out.

      Jemisin is quite well known for her work though this is the first book that I have read of hers.
      She has written The Inheritance Trilogy (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Broken Kingdoms, The Kingdom of Gods), The Dreamblood (The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun) and The Broken Earth (The Fifth Season and Obelisk Gate).

      I checked online but her books have not been made into a movie yet. I personally think The Fifth Season would make a fantastic movie. 🙂

  12. I thought this is the 5th installment of a book series. That was my first impression of the book’s title. I love sci-fi books and this looks like it’s another great book on my to-read list. Thanks for the review!

    1. Hi Yvonne!
      I agree with you, the title does sound like the 5th installment in a series. It’s actually part 1 of The Broken Earth series.
      The Fifth Season is named, I think, due to the actual seismic and volcanic disruptions that occur on Stillness. Each time there is a major quake that destroys civilization it’s called a season. The are all named differently. The world building in the book is complex and there’s an explanation of it in the appendix.

      I hope you will enjoy this as much as I did. 🙂

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