The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
Publication date: 28 July 2016
Page count: 512 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
This is a spoiler-free review
The Fifth Season is one of those books that I’d had sitting on my shelf for years, just waiting for me to decide it was the right time to read it. I knew I would love this book, so why didn’t I pick it up sooner? I have no idea. Fortunately, a friend recently convinced me to pull it off the shelf, and I’m so happy she did. For me, The Fifth Season more than lived up to the incredible hype and prestige it has gained over the years.
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS. AGAIN.
Three terrible things happen in a single day.
Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.
She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
Honestly, there’s just not much I can say about The Fifth Season that hasn’t already been said. I also truly believe that this is a book to go into knowing as little as possible, so today I am going to be brief. With the exception that it’s a dark book, I didn’t really know what to expect when I turned to the first page, and I really think that helped elevate my enjoyment.
This book is a little slow to start — it’s definitely a slow burn plot — however, it was so beautifully written that I found myself sinking in anyway. It took me awhile to get into the rhythm of the writing, but once I got there I found that everything people had told me was true — the world building was magnificent and intricate, the characters were fantastic and complex, and it had a hard-hitting and powerful narrative. The last 100 pages are like getting punch in the face repeatedly and it was just fantastic — you know I love it when books do this. I cannot wait to read The Obelisk Gate and feel all these emotions over again.
If you’re like me and were waiting for the perfect time to read this book, take my advice and stop waiting. A stunning, unique, and powerful book, The Fifth Season will not be suited to every reader but it has more than earned the praise it has received since publication.
CW: lots of child death, seriously.
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