Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

In one way, it's a lot easier to review books that I liked but didn't love all that much, because somehow then I'm actually able to step back and analyze the reasons why I liked a book, rather than just being blinded by my love. The Fifth Season turned out to be the kind of book where I don't really know how to put into words why I ended up liking it so much. I mean, other than I think that N.K. Jemisin is a genius.

The Fifth Season is the first book in an adult fantasy trilogy, and follows the lives of three different characters at different stages of life as they deal with the Seasons that Father Earth brings upon them, which are basically different kinds of apocalyptic weather events. Part of this intricately detailed world that N.K. Jemisin creates are people called orogenes, who are people that can control the earth itself. But they are also people who are feared and used for their skill set.

It's always a bit much to try to get into a new fantasy series for me, so at the beginning I was kind of hesitant and overwhelmed by all the new concepts and such being thrown at me. But what's that dumb phrase from The Fault in Our Stars? I fell in love slowly and then all at once? I found myself saying at the beginning that I might not get into this book and then eventually not being able to put it down. N.K. Jemisin has such a smooth writing style you barely notice you're being carried along.

I'm not going to spoil anything, but N.K. Jemisin also perfectly writes reveals - she drops just enough hints for you to figure something out, but just few enough you don't figure out anything too soon. It heightens the intrigue and suspense right to the mind-blowing climax at the end that just makes you want to keep reading.

While The Fifth Season is intense and suspenseful and intriguing like all good fantasy is, it's also rich in character and dives deep into human emotions. It reminds me of Billy Ray Belcourt's essay on the "poetry of sadness". The sorrow that comes through on the page is cathartic and beautiful to read. You know you've found a good book when it makes your heart squeeze with emotion, and beat rapidly in anticipation.

I hope I've managed to be at least somewhat articulate about The Fifth Season and N.K. Jemisin's work. If you aren't on her train already thanks to her three Hugo Award wins, you should get on it right now and pick up some of her work. (Also if you've read the rest of the trilogy say nothing because I'm not done them yet!!)

The Fifth Season on
The Fifth Season on
The Fifth Season on Goodreads

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