The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin Book Review | A Crash Course On Earth Bending & Geomorphic Shit Storms With A Relevant Social Commentary

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Title: The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1)

Author: N.K. Jemisin

Publication Date: August 4, 2015

Rating: 4.50/ 5.00

Synopsis:  

This is the way the world ends. Again.

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter

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Hello there, allies, archenemies and, everyone in between! This is my first successful read this month and I feel all the dirt and gunk in my skin clear out. I feel rejuvenated my friends! I decided to read this book blind (best decision); I didn’t even check the blurb all I know is that this has been raved a lot by my favorite SF/F reviewers. I trust them with my life.

ALL THINGS WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

This was such a weird book mainly because of how it was constructed so unlike from the usual SF/F books I’ve read. It was a jumble of this and that and whatnot that made it all the more intriguing. It was weird and confusing but it carried a sense of impending doom that you can’t just stop reading because hello why would you?! Jemisin has such a unique voice and she carried it in succinct and well drawn out intervals. 

GROUNDED WORLD-BUILDING AND MAGIC SYSTEM

This is by far its greatest strengths! The magic system of orogenes and their sessapinae where absolutely my favorite parts in the book. Not only that but you will kind of get a crash course on the sciences related to the earth. Literally about tectonic plates, volcanology, earthquakes, the properties of the earth, crystals and stones, obelisks you name it.

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if N.K. Jemisin is actually an Earth bender! She’s a fcking genius because she was able to ground her world-building in the real world while simultaneously creating a fresh take on geology incorporated in the magic system. I mean really????? This is insanely unique I can’t stress this enough!

ENGAGES THE READER TO THINK ACTIVELY WHILE READING

Because of the uniqueness of the plot construction, I was persuaded to pore through the details and happenings. I was able to formulate theories spot on while enjoying its narrative, its as if the gaps in the initial chapters were there to push you to think and piece out the story bit by bit. This is usually a good sign because it engages us readers rather than just flow with the book’s predicated direction!

A BREADCRUMB TRAIL OF SUBVERTED TROPES AND PLOT TWISTS

As it turns out most of my theories were correct!!!! I was screaming with glee when the crucial events unfolded clearly. There’s a perpetuating sense of mystery in The Fifth Season and it will never fail to surprise you with the countless twists and turns that will actually skewer your heart at some point. Not only that but there were a lot of subverted tropes in here which of course I won’t be divulging but it really elevated the whole book! This has such a unique flavor and I’ll forever remember this book because of this.

REVEALS AN IN-DEPTH EXAMINATION OF HUMANITY’S SURVIVAL INSTINCT IN DIFFERENT FACETS

Jemisin knows how to flesh out human emotions through her words in ways I can’t even start to explain! SHE IS A TALENTED WRITER. One of the core narratives here is about our survival instincts and I just realized how neatly Jemisin examined these in different ways. First is on how we, as humans, resort to numbing and deflection to negate the onslaught of emotions (e.g. grief and pain), as well as how we instinctively react to external forces and foreign threats physically. This theme revolved all throughout the book and I find myself bowing relentlessly to Jemisin’s artistry.

OFFERS A SOCIAL COMMENTARY ON RACISM AND SEXISM

Last but not the least, The Fifth Season offers a very much needed social commentary on racism and sexism. The parallels were quite obvious (e.g. orogenes having derogatory names like rogga) and I love how unapologetically true it was. There were times when I have to stop reading and just gasp with how every chapter strikes you with urgency as if repeatedly calling out to you that WE MATTER (i.e. orogenes who represented black people) There’s one specific part in the book that encapsulated the contrasting mentalities of the orogenes on their self-concept.

He’s made it. not that she hadn’t known it before: that she is a slave, that all roggas are slaves, that the security and sense of self-worth the Fulcrum offers is wrapped in the chain of her right to live, and even the right to control her own body. It’s one thing to know this to admit it to herself, but it’s the sort of truth that none of them use against each other–not even to make a point–because doing so is cruel and unnecessary.

This is why she hates [redacted] not because he is more powerful, not even because he is crazy, but because he refuses to allow her any of the polite  fictions and unspoken truths that have kept her comfortable and safe for years.

FAVORITE QUOTES

“Even the hardest stone can fracture. It just takes the right force, applied at the right juncture of angles. A fulcrum of pressure and weakness”

“You’re not used to having a life follow you when you leave it behind.”

“This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is ust 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.”

Overall, this book for me was the epitome of the word U N I Q U E. Please do yourself the favor of reading this work of art.

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  • Have you read The Fifth Season? Tell me more about your feels please!
  • Do you know any SF/F books that delved on the themes like this one?

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19 thoughts on “The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin Book Review | A Crash Course On Earth Bending & Geomorphic Shit Storms With A Relevant Social Commentary

      1. Yes I have… almost 2 years ago though.. I think I should find time to reread because I don’t remember a lot 😣😣😣
        Are you planning to continue the series???

        Liked by 1 person

  1. i have heard so, so many fantastic things about this book and i’m glad you enjoyed it as well. this review talked about what made the book great without giving anything away, and now i’m even more intrigued! i think my library has this so i might be checking it out soon 👀👀 i love reading scifi that gives me a crash course on things i hadn’t known aboit before!

    Liked by 1 person

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