Book Review: ‘The Fifth Season’ by N.K. Jemisin

Posted: 7 March 2017 in Book reviews
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For centuries, Seasons have ended, societies have died, and the “world” has begun anew. But this time, this Season is the last.

The story follows three characters as they come to terms with the trials of their lives and the events that transpire around them. The first is Essun. At home she finds her son broken and dead, her husband and daughter gone. She is devastated. She knows her husband killed him and why. Her children must have inherited her orogeny. People are afraid of orogenes, derogatorily called “roggas”, but she never believed her husband would kill their child. During her days long stupor, she unknowingly stills a shake that destroyed surrounding towns killing thousands. To protect herself, she leaves on a quest to find her husband, kill him, and save her daughter. Her journey leads her to a village of Orogenes where she is confronted by people from her past, and exposed to a world-ending revelation.

Syenite is a student of the Fulcrum and is being sent, along with mentor Alabaster, on a mission to Allia. While she doesn’t mind the mission, she knows that she has a mentor for another reason: to have a child with him. This disgusts her, but she is at least content on the fact that he powerful. Too bad they loathe each other. Their journey together does little to improve things. When Alabaster falls ill, Syenite completes their mission, unknowingly releasing a hidden obelisk. When they are attacked by a rogue Guardian, Syenite connects with the obelisk and it shatters. She awakes on an island hundreds of miles away. They set up a life there together as an oddly happy little family. But their happiness doesn’t last. Old enemies appear and destroy it. When it appears they have lost, Syenite does the unthinkable to keep their enemies from getting what they want.

Damaya is a child who didn’t know she was an orogene until she almost kills a boy. Her parents give her away to the Guardians who deliver her to the Fulcrum to train. There, she makes an exceptional student. So much so that the others bully her. So she learns to be alone. She uses her personal time to explore unused areas in the Fulcrum. That is until a stranger sneaks in. The girl is searching for something, something Damaya may have found. Together they search for a place no one is meant to know of. Before they can discover too much, they are found. In order to protect Damaya, her Guardian has her take the first ring test. And with this she also decides to change her name.

All three story lines lead to one monumental truth, they are destined to change the world.

My Thoughts

This book was one I learned about at the 2015 Comic Con. And yes I only now got around to reading it. Despite this, I am glad I finally did.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I found it a bit difficult to get in to. It took me over 100 pages to become invested in it. But once that happened, I really looked forward to reading it. The world was fascinating, the history, the different types of people, the social issues that mimicked our social issues, etc. Orogenes are basically social outcasts, any person who is different, that people do not understand and are afraid of (LGBT, Muslims, non-Whites, etc). I enjoyed as well how the relationships between the characters and those around them aren’t built on immediate trust and love. They are wary, cautious, just like with people today.

There are four main characters: Essun, Syenite, Damaya, and Alabaster. Essun is quite a rational character, despite being hellbent on revenge. She built a facade around herself and maintains it faithfully. She is honestly kind of blah. Despite being in her head the whole story, you still feel disconnected from her. Syenite on the other hand you don’t. She is a very angry woman and struggles to not let it out. WHen she does, it’s usually at Alabaster. I like how they always have this love/hate relationship. I just wish that was a bit more likeable for the readers sake. She’s not really. Damaya is thankfully. She is a curious, innocent girl. While she isn’t so concerned about friends, she doesn’t stand for being bullied. She is very smart and strong. Readers have really no reason not to like her. Alabaster is my favourite character. He is crazy, and very powerful. He is also very patient. He understands his role and does so faithful, albeit begrudgingly. While I probably shouldn’t give this away, I love the fact that he’s gay (or at the least bisexual). It isn’t a huge point in the story, but what he goes through gives me something I’m able to relate to with him.

The writing was pretty good as well. It is written in first person and I usually struggle with that. I feel it is less fluid than third person. Personal opinion. It didn’t really grip me until 100-150 pages into the book. I really enjoyed the vivid imagery. The world was thoroughly developed and I enjoyed the bits of history interjected in the dialogue. This book was expertly crafted.

All in all I enjoyed the book. A bit slow at the beginning, but intriguing enough to keep reading and ends with a beautiful cliffhanger. If you like apocalyptic fantasy, then this is one you will enjoy. I am looking forward to reading the second book. Happy reading 😉

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