Book Review: The Fifth Season

5star

Title:  The Fifth Season

Author:  N. K. Jemisin

Series?  Yes. 1 of 3 (?)

Rating: 5/5 stars!!!!!

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I loved this book from the first page, and it only got better as I kept reading.  It has everything that inspires me to read: beautiful and unique writing; an intricate and dangerous fantasy world; strong characters – especially strong female characters; diverse without being all self-congratulatory…  I could go on.  AND I WILL. Right below.

This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is just the beginning of another. This has happened before, after all. People die. Old orders pass. New societies are born. When we say “the world has ended,” it’s usually a lie, because the planet is just fine. But this is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. For the last time.

The-Fifth-Season

1.  STILLNESS:  The Land That Metamorphoses

Here is a land. It is ordinary, as lands go. Mountains and plateaus and canyons and river deltas, the usual. Ordinary, except for its size and its dynamism. 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. It is a land of quiet and bitter irony.

The book is set in Stillness, ironically named as their Earth is one that constantly changes, remolding and destroying civilisations in its wake.  The changes between Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter are trivial compared to these geographic events.  You know what the titular Fifth Season is? It’s DEATH.  Stillness has suffered through multiple iteration of The Fifth Season such as Acid Season, Boiling Season, Fungus Season, The Season of Teeth – the names alone should suggest how brutal each of these apocalyptic events were.  The story begins at the end of the world, Stillness is used to the end of the world.  I never knew geography and tectonic plates movement could be so exciting.  Father Earth is his own character in this book, at once he is great and terrible.

2.  OROGENES:  A Tale In Three Parts

Every time the earth moves, you will hear its call. In every moment of danger you will reach, instinctively, for the nearest source of warmth and movement…. When a threat is imminent, of course you’ll do what you must to protect yourself. And when you do, people will die.

The story follows the perspective of three females.  They’re all orogenes: people with the ability to manipulate the earth’s movement. They can quell shakes, but they can also wreck great destruction via earthquake, volcanic eruptions, or just plain freezing people to death (as the practice of orogeny draws heat).  The orogenes have literally god-like ability, yet they are treated as a subclass of humans, and are derogatorily named rogga by commoners.  They’re either forced to enter The Fulcrum to hone their arts and serve the government; or they are killed. As orogeny is very much an ability intrinsically linked to emotions,their people cannot escape servitude or death.

“Tell them they can be great someday, like us. Tell them they belong among us, no matter how we treat them. Tell them they must earn the respect which everyone else receives by default. Tell them there is a standard for acceptance; that standard is simply perfection. Kill those who scoff at these contradictions, and tell the rest that the dead deserved annihilation for their weakness and doubt. Then they’ll break themselves trying for what they’ll never achieve.”

These three female perspective weaves together the life and experiences of an orogene in a non-linear fashion.  Firstly, we have Essun – a 42 year old woman.  We meet her as she mourns over her son’s dead body, the boy was murdered by his own father.  Her story tells of an orogene who has managed to hide her power -but her progeny had to pay the ultimate price.  There’s grief, there’s wariness, there’s a lot of regret in her story.  Next up is Syenite, a four-ringed orogene of the Fulcrum – she has been taught to obey and served; even if it means partnering up with an older mentor and breeding with him.  Finally, we have Damaya – a young girl who has been left by her parents and brought to the Fulcrum: she views it as her only source of purpose in life.

I love the experiences of all three characters, and I thought N. K. Jemisin did an excellent job of keeping their voices and timeline distinct – yet making the story cohesive.  When these three narratives eventually collide, it is beautiful, and awesome, and leaves me excited for the sequel.

3.  THE BEAUTIFUL WRITING:  Also In Three Ways

When I started reading The Fifth Season, I got all ready to highlight all the beautiful writing, as you do!  Then I realised I was highlighting THE WHOLE BOOK.  The proses are my favourite, lyrical and flowing without being pretentious or excessive.  She even employs different writing styles, which I usually hate, but it’s done so well here.

First, the narrator tell us of the grand story of the Stillness and its ages in a storybook-like third person narrative.  Then we have Essun’s point of view, which is done in second person present tense! My least favourite, but it totally works.  Finally, Damaya and Syenite’s stories are in limited third person.  At first, the constant shift in style, perspective, and timeline may leave you a bit bewildered – but trust me, you should just hold on tight and enjoy the ride!  You definitely won’t regret it.

Also, can I love how much diversity there was in this book?  That’s rare for a fantasy.  Also rare for the book not to go all our trumpeting the fact.  There are people of colour, people of different sexuality and different gender identity, but no fuss is ever made about it.  It just is, and I LOVE it.


Basically, if my gushing was not enough to convince you, GO AND READ THIS IMMEDIATELY.

*rolls on the floor waiting for the next book*

ALSO AMAZING NEWS:  I will now coblog 1-2 a week at The Social Potato with the amazing Faye, Aimee and Rashika!! Come visit me there 😀

49 thoughts on “Book Review: The Fifth Season

    • The writing is so beautiful, Josie, I think you will love it! I always hesitate to unreservedly rec books because somethings aren’t for everyone. BUT THIS BOOK IS AWESOME ❤ Hope you enjoy it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I stopped doubting (I always have to doubt books because of my picky taste) this book even before I finished the first paragraph! Oh, Aentee I think I finally found a book that can finally get me back on track! Series? Psh not this time! Aint going to stop me for using all my resources to get me this book!!!!! Fantasy, diverse and amazing prose/characters? No love triangles? No insta love? No derivatives from other series? A different set of dystopian? (Rather than usual teen vs govt) I AM SO IN I WANT TO CRY I JUST NEED THIS RIGHT NOW LIKE UGHHHHH *throws inexistent money to bookdepository*

    I’m actually IN BED rn (reading your reviews ad bedtime story heh heh) bUT I CANT HELP MYSELF GETTING SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS AMAZING REVIEW!! Your reviews are just sigh, you go girl!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • THIS BOOK IS SO AMAZING NURUL. Do it do it do it. Unique from the world building, to some middle aged main characters, to diversity, to interesting relationships -even a friendly threesome at one point – and so heartbreaking AHHH YOU MUST READ IT. *rolls on the floor* I hope it will bring you out of your reading slump, too!

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      • I’M GOING ON BOOKDEPOSITORY (with no money and no experience in buying books online) AS WE SPEAK I TRUST YOUR JUDGEMENT PLUS THIS SOUNDS AMAZING AND I AAHHHH I COULD FEEL MY SLUMP MELTING BCS OF THIS. It’s so rare to find an adult high fantasy (well murakami is a different story – but I’m having tiny inklings that maybe thats why I am so attracted to his books) i am so intrigued at the prospect of it all ugh for now I will have to make do with reading reviews of it and cry between books while my hands long for 5th Sn

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    • It is truly stunning, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! can’t wait to hear your own thoughts on it!

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  2. OK, here’s the thing, I struggle with multiple POVs more than 2. I’ve had to ditch series that I love because of that. And you also mentioned the change in writing style with perspective too, which doesn’t always work for me.
    That being said, this sounds amazing, Aentee! The writing especially is something I feel like I really want to experience. And all those amazing-sounding characters.
    I’ll look to see if the library has a copy of this one.
    Great review, Aentee!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You will love it, Nick. Or rather, you MUST love it, or we cannot be 😄 JK I shall love you forever. I usually love multiple POV though haha, so we might have completely different levels of tolerance… I do think it really works here and comes together BEAUTIFULLY in the end, so it’s worth it even if you don’t normally like the convention of multiple narratives.

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    • Everything is in threes, except for apocalypses of which there’s about 50 lmao! I love this book, I hope you will too, Vane!

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    • It was just released earlier on in the month 🙂 I hope you’ll find it in Spain, because it’s so amazing :D!!

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    • Really, I actually find I can only get multiple POVs IN fantasy ahahaha! But then I like don’t read other genres much so it’s probably super prevalent in other stuff too. This book if incredible, you should definitely get it for the stunning writing alone!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rightttt? I read A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms, but I didn’t love it as much as this. I obviously need to go devour the rest of her books ASAP.

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  3. I fell in love with the writing from those quotes *_* I definitely need to check out this book. Have you read her other book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms? That one has been on TBR for years now lol..

    Liked by 1 person

    • The writing is so stunning!!! You must read it!! I like this one more than The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms BUT Nahadoth is like so sexy *faints* That love story omg.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you like it, Theresa. It is all shades of beautiful 😀 I am glad I could add it to your TBR! Enjoyyyyy 😀

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  4. YESSS it’s completely rare to find a fantasy that is diverse (aside from diversity as in orcs and elves etc.). I love the sound of this one with the manipulating the Earth’s atmosphere and the world building, it sounds truly amazing! Great review Aentee. It reminds me of one of my favourite urban fantasies slightly, Rachel CAine’s Weather Warden series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You need to read this one Jeann! It is beautiful, the world is fantastical while well-researched, and the scope of the story felt so large by the end of the book! I need to check out Rachel Caine’s series, obviously!

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  5. OKAY SO I SERIOUSLY NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. 0_0 It sounds amazing and beautiful and why haven’t I even heard of it before?!?!? I love books where the focus is on female characters and this world just sounds so unique. SIGN ME UP *dashes wildly to goodreads*

    And zomg congrats on blogging with the Potatoes!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yesssss read it, it’s honestly so beautiful and different from every other apocalyptic type books- and I love the representation of a multitude of gender and sexuality. Plus the writing is GORGEOUS. ENJOY!!!

      And yes I am SO HAPPY to be a potato 😄 !! Thanks Cait!!

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    • You’re going to NYC?? Have funnnn Glaiza, but loads of books!! And is the Egyptian one The Killing Moon? I have to get onto that.

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      • Yep, next week! I plan to scare my friends by diving book stores and never leaving them…I need The Killing Moon. My friend loved it and it’s been on my TBR for a few years so a copy should be enough to push it up the list.

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  6. […] The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin: In this unique fantasy, apocalypse are dime a dozen thanks to the ever changing tectonic plates. Themes of oppression and free will are examined as we follow the perspective of three orogene female. The proses are beautiful, the stakes are sky high, and the reveals are startling. My review. […]

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