The Fifth Season Book Review

Title: The Fifth Season
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2015
Pages: 449
Goodreads Rating: 4.28
Rating: 9/10

“Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall; Death is the fifth and master of all.”

In The Fifth Season, you are thrust into a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world as you follow three main characters… Essun, Damaya, and Syenite. They are orogenes… a race of people capable of controlling tectonic activity. Humanity relies on the orogenes to keep them all safe; but, that does not mean they have to respect the orogenes… And our three main characters do what they must to survive.

Pros:
Fascinating, flawed society
Jemisin has created a cringe-worthy, flawed, and gripping society in The Fifth Season. In the first 150 pages, you experience moments that make you grimace because of the injustice and inhumanity. As more and more is revealed throughout the book, your view of the prologue adjusts with the revelations. 

Interesting characters
As you follow Essun, Damaya, and Syenite, you’re introduced to a variety of intriguing characters and races. From geologists to pirates, Jemisin provides plenty of unique personalities, lifestyles, and professions to learn about. 

An ending that leaves you wanting more
By the end of the book, some questions are answered and are immediately replaced with more questions. I highly suggest having the second book on hand because once you finish The Fifth Season, you’ll want to immediately pick up The Obelisk Gate to figure out what happens next.

Cons:
Slightly more grimdark than I was prepared for
When I first picked up this book, I had no clue that it was more of a grimdark fantasy book. There are plenty of conflicting opinions about if The Fifth Season is in the grimdark fantasy genre but there is no doubt that there are absolutely aspects of the story that are grimdark. As a fair warning, you’ll read indirectly about child torture and child murder. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

Unclear timelines for main character POVs… but for good reason
The book’s chapters each feature one of the main characters and the chapters do not provide you with a point in time. At first, you assume their stories are synchronous. However, you quickly notice that Essun, Damaya, and Syenite are telling their stories from different time periods because Essun is the only one who mentions the events from the prologue. It isn’t clear why the author does this until around page 200 and by that point in the book, you suddenly realize the timeline of events. 

Overall…
This book grabbed my attention almost immediately. In my opinion, it is such a unique fantasy story with extremely well done fantasy tropes and a slight amount of grimdark overtones.

Published by Caroline

Avid reader, board gamer, yogi, and photographer.

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