Simone's Reviews > The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2018, books-i-recommend, diverse-reads, science-fiction, fantasy

This review is not going to do this book justice. I can already tell that I'm going to forget some stuff while I write this. There’s a lot of stuff here to unpack and really not sure where to even begin with this review. Trigger warning, the book starts off with child abuse. While it may seem cruel to start a book off with that, It lays out the emotional state of the main character.

My offline book friend suggested this to me when she saw all three books won a Hugo award three years in a row. She was looking for something new to read and I was looking for more science fiction/fantasy novels written by author of color. After reading KINDRED, I needed to get on that level of sci-fi and find more amazing stories. I think we hit the jackpot with this one. It’s funny because The Fifth Season published in 2015, but I feel like this book is just catching on now. Well, I won’t have any problems hyping this book up to my friends. It’s the most complex fantasy/dystopian/science fiction novel I’ve read to date and that makes me seriously happy.

As the first book in a new series, this one isn’t going to be the best one. It’s no fault other than the fact that a fantasy series needs to be explained. If you’re world building, then it’s going to take up a lot of real estate in the first novel. However, NK Jemisin was able to build the world while moving the story along. While I wasn’t a fan of the pace (it moved a little slow for me), the book didn’t lack in any other area. I will say that if you’re a brand new reader to the fantasy genre, this might be a tough book to handle. It’s not like Harry Potter where there’s a small ounce of reality amongst everything. This book is a real dystopian novel on the level of Mad Max. It’s got X-Men style characters in a world that doesn’t resemble or remember Earth in the 21st century.

The gist of the book goes like this: There’s these people called “orogene” that have these powers to pull energy from the earth. They’re able to root their essence (for lack of a better word) into the earth and use the energy from all the living things in the surrounding areas to protect themselves. It’s a defense mechanism. However, it also destroys everything if it isn’t controlled and unchecked.

There’s three main characters throughout this novel:

Damaya - a young girl who just discovered that she is orogenic. Because of this, her family hands her over to The Fulcrum, a training facility for orogenic children to learn to control their powers. Each orogenic person is controlled by a guardian who also has extraordinary powers to control the orogene. Damaya learns quickly that it’s not a matter doing right or wrong, but doing what her guardian deems as safe for everyone else.

Syenite - a much more mature woman who is training at the Fulcrum. She’s designated a four-ring orogenic because she wears four rings to show her level of skill controlling her powers. She’s partnered with Alabaster, a ten-ring orogenic. They have two missions. The first one is to investigate some coral growth in one of the communities and have babies. In this world, The Fulcrum breed within the orogenes to make more so they can train them and own their offspring. I thought that this little fact was deeply creepy especially since mothers and fathers never see what happen to their children.

Essun - The final character who is a much older woman. Essun is one of these orogenic people and she just found her son’s body beaten to death by his father/her husband. He was an orogene as well. So you can kind of get an idea of how “dangerous” these people are made out to be. But how can you blame a person for reacting poorly to something they fear? Well, everyone because that’s what happens.

These three lives do come together at the end of the novel, but NK Jemisin will take her time before they converge and when she does, it’s such a twist.

I really loved this book. Yeah, it’s a first novel of a series, but it still was action packed and NK Jemisin gets to the point by the end. I was worried it’d be too slow throughout the book and then bum rush you in the last 100 pages with everything going on. However, it felt even-paced. Little tidbits of info are shared throughout the novel to keep you guessing, so when you get to the end you know exactly what is going on, who is involved, and a little idea of what’s going to happen in the next book.

Another interesting component in this series is the earth itself. From all the historical components NK Jemisin provides, the earth is our Earth and it’s an indeterminate number of years into the future. The earth’s revenge from our abuse of its resources is to create the fifth season; a reckoning of natural proportions. Earthquakes and volcanoes and famine and death. They can last a season or they can last centuries devastating everyone in its path. Each community within the earth spend their energy trying to prepare for the oncoming fifth season. I absolutely love this. I always feel like the earth the characters stand on is such an interesting character in and of itself. It seeks revenge and it doesn’t care who gets hurt. I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a metaphor for the way we are abusing the earth today, but I can’t help to draw that tiny conclusion.

There’s also the political aspect. I love a good science fiction book with a lot of socio-economic and political issues. It just feels like the author is taking the time to make this world believable. Someone is fighting over a throne. Someone is trying to fight for the rights of specific citizens. In this particular one, the communities all live in a delicate balance. Every single person in the community contributes to it in some way. The orogenes are threats to communities because of their seismic abilities, so they are often run out of town or killed on sight.

But a really great start to what I’ve heard is an amazing series. I’ll definitely be checking out the rest of this series in the new year!

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Reading Progress

October 11, 2018 – Shelved
October 11, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
November 25, 2018 – Started Reading
November 28, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018
November 28, 2018 – Shelved as: diverse-reads
November 28, 2018 – Shelved as: books-i-recommend
November 28, 2018 – Shelved as: science-fiction
November 28, 2018 – Shelved as: fantasy
November 28, 2018 – Finished Reading

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