Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin | BIBIB Day 2

The Biannual Bibliothon challenge for day 2 is a book review, hosted by Kassie. Since the only reviews I have on this blog so far are for books I didn’t like or thought were only okay, I decided I would write a review on a book I absolutely loved, or more specifically, 2 books: The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin, the first of the Broken Earth trilogy.

5ssnRating: 5/5 stars

This is the way the world ends…for the last time.

A season of endings has begun. 

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. 

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. 

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. 

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

Review:

This book blew me away. Every aspect of it was flawless, from the world to the plot to the characters to the writing. The writing. Don’t even get me started.

Jemisin’s writing is completely unique; I can say with confidence that I have never read anything that comes close to her writing style. The way she uses words is so atmospheric and special, and nearly every passage sends a shiver down my spine. The Fifth Season follows three characters and plotlines, and each is distinctive in its writing style. Two are written in third person, but one is written in second person. These parts of the novel are written so well the only way I can describe it is striking. Beyond the writing, the characters are fantastic as well.

We follow 3 main plotlines, each about a central female character. These characters are far from perfect. They have flaws, they make mistakes, and they do things that are frustrating to read about. However, that’s what makes them real. Jemisin is able to craft characters with deep flaws while still making them easy to root for and sympathize with, which is great.

Also, I have to comment Jemisin for writing a science fiction/fantasy series where most of the primary characters are female. The SFF world is too full of male-dominated series, and this one breaks the mold in a great way.

Another aspect of the Broken Earth trilogy that stands out is the world. It’s so different from our own, yet so similar in some regards, and most definitely feels real. Even though a lot of this book takes place somewhat distanced from the main part of the nation, the politics and history of the world are woven into the plot so well that I feel like I’m entering the world whenever I opened the book.

Jemisin also does an amazing job at crafting a world full of people of color, and addressing prejudice and imperialism while doing so. Her world’s race relations aren’t a mirror of our own, but the lines of colonialism and the effects of that history are very present in the way characters interact. There’s also a huge theme within this series of prejudice, with a part of the population being considered subhuman and used as a resource rather than treated as people. The way she handled these issues was subtle, but effective- it was in no way heavy-handed, and had a huge impact.

Overall, the first two books of the Broken Earth trilogy were fantastic, and definitely some of my favorites of the year. I would recommend this trilogy to anyone interested in sci fi/fantasy, but more toward those who are familiar with the genre and with adult SFF, since it can get pretty intense. I also can’t wait until book 3, The Stone Sky, which comes out August 15.

 

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