The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – #BookReview

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The Fifth Season - N.K. Jemisin The Broken Earth Series #1
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I am currently engrossed in the captivating world of “The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin, and I must say, she is a remarkably talented writer. The book is a masterful display of building conflict and tension, keeping readers hooked from start to finish.

Now Reading: “The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin

“The Fifth Season” is the first installment in N.K. Jemisin’s groundbreaking Broken Earth trilogy. Set in a post-apocalyptic world plagued by frequent cataclysmic events called “Fifth Seasons,” the novel follows the lives of three extraordinary women who possess the power to control and manipulate the earth itself. It intertwines themes of oppression, survival, identity, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Synopsis of The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth Series):

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.

First Sentence:

“Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things.”

Exploring the Broken Earth Trilogy

The Fascinating World of the Stillness

In “The Fifth Season,” Jemisin introduces readers to the intricate and imaginative world of the Stillness. This continent-sized landmass is prone to seismic activities, experiencing periodic cataclysmic events that bring devastation to its inhabitants. The world-building in the book is meticulous, with Jemisin painting a vivid picture of a society on the brink of collapse.

The Three Protagonists

“The Fifth Season” presents three compelling protagonists: Essun, Damaya, and Syenite. Each of these characters possesses the ability to manipulate the earth’s energy, known as orogeny, making them feared and ostracized by society. Through their unique perspectives, Jemisin explores themes of identity, discrimination, and the pursuit of freedom.

Themes of Oppression and Survival

Jemisin’s novel delves into the deep-rooted oppression faced by marginalized individuals within the Stillness. The narrative examines how power structures perpetuate discrimination and explores the lengths people will go to survive in a hostile world. Through the characters’ struggles, Jemisin highlights the strength of the human spirit and the resilience required to challenge systemic injustice.

The Power of Nature and Environmentalism

In “The Fifth Season,” Jemisin masterfully weaves the power of nature into the fabric of her story. The cataclysmic events in the book mirror the destructive forces of real-world natural disasters, serving as a metaphor for the fragility of our planet. Jemisin’s exploration of environmental themes adds depth to the narrative and prompts readers to contemplate humanity’s relationship with nature.

The Art of Suspense in “The Fifth Season”

Jemisin skillfully incorporates elements of foreshadowing and tantalizing teasers throughout the narrative, leaving readers eager to uncover the mysteries that lie ahead in her subsequent novel, “The Obelisk Gate”.

(Love Dystopian Novels? Here’s three more you must read!)

One cannot help but be captivated by the recurring motifs of giant floating gray obelisks in the sky. Their movements, whether approaching, rotating, or serving as a focal point during intense moments, create an aura of secrecy that compels readers to push forward.

Unveiling Secrets

“The Fifth Season” holds many secrets, including the enigmatic rock creatures capable of assuming various forms, even that of humans. Questions arise: Is the small boy a rock creature? Friend or foe? These captivating mysteries serve as hooks that leave readers craving more answers.

Multiple Perspectives in “The Fifth Season”

One unique aspect of the book is its narrative structure, which unfolds through three distinct viewpoints. The first perspective is in the second person, immersing readers directly into the action, possibly assuming the role of the main protagonist. The second perspective is in the third person, offering an omniscient view of a girl undergoing training at the falcrum, specifically on the 4th ring level. Lastly, the third perspective, also in the third person, introduces a small girl who was separated from her family and raised at the falcrum as a grit.

My Opinion of The Fifth Season:

It was a really interesting read!

This was such a popular book. It won the Hugo award in 2016, and was nominated for a Nebula Award.

Not to mention the other two books in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series also won the Hugo award for 2017 and 2018 respectively.

This book was huge so I needed to get in and start reading it.

“I’m taking her to the Fulcrum. There she will be trained to use curse. Her sacrifice, too, will make the world better.” The Fifth Season p.32

Where do I start? The book was great.

(Love dystopian novels? Find out other great dystopian novels here!)

I really loved everything about the book – except the ending which seemed to suggest that I need to read the next two books. Not that I’m complaining! haha

N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth series starts off with this book and it’s a fantastic start.

The world that N.K. Jemisin builds in The Fifth Season is really detailed and authentic. We don’t get all the details of the world, but I assume she’s keeping it all for the next two novels.

“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.” The Fifth Season p.348

Talking about this novel though, we can see a lot of inclusion for minorities and LGBTQ+ characters as well as themes.

They are not just stereotypes but wholly taking part in the novel and feel like real people you can meet on the street.

It really is great that we can have a more inclusive science fiction community, especially since N.K. Jemisin won triple Hugo Awards for her recent novels.

N.K. Jemisin’s Use of Perspective

One of the most interesting and potent eye-catching elements of The Fifth Season is N.K. Jemisin’s use of perspective throughout the novel.

Some chapters use second person when describing what Essun does, i.e. “you did this” “you did that”.

Other chapters use third person when describing Damaya and Syenite’s experiences.

(Haven’t read The Gapcai Effect yet? Check out the details of this science fiction book here!)

Also, ever-present is a sort of third person omnipresent narrator who presses their own opinion and point of view on everything that is happening.

“You are she. She is you. You are Essun. Remember? The woman whose son is dead.” The Fifth Season p.15

These three different narratives (for Essun, Damaya, and Syenite) move through different points of time.

Also, these different narratives gradually give away details of the world and begin to build up the tension underneath the surface of the novel.

In the first chapter, Essun’s child is dead and she needs to chase down her husband who took off with her daughter.

Damaya is a young girl just discovered to be an orogene (those people who can control energy from the ground and temperature) by her parents. She hides in the roof of a barn but is taken Schaffa (a guardian, those who attempt to train and control orogenes).

Syenite is an orogene who is at the fulcrum (a place run by guardians and where orogenes are trained to learn to control their powers).

“And Syen could do it in her sleep. A two-ringer could do this. A grit could do it – though, admittedly, not without substantial collateral damage.” The Fifth Season p.61

In the end, these three narratives weave and wind together and finish in a masterpiece where your only want is to reread the entire novel to catch everything you didn’t catch the first time.

The Fifth Season would have seriously taken a lot of effort just to conceive and write down.

There are great ideas out there, but N.K. Jemisin’s put her words down on paper and just makes The Fifth Season into something quite beautiful.

Sometimes the narrator forces their ideas into your head, but it’s no problem. It’s good to get different perspectives once in a while.

I really love what N.K. Jemisin did with her book and highly suggest you read it straight away! You certainly get hooked and want to read all the books in N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth series.


I highly suggest you read The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin!

There’s so much in the book that I would love to scream about, but I don’t wanna give away too many spoilers.

Most importantly, it really is an amazing and fantastic book that you should have read already. If not, now’s your chance! Go and get it today!

My Rating: 5/5

Find all details about The Fifth Season (The first book in N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth series) on Goodreads and Amazon.

A.J. McMahon
(P.S. Got any other books you want me to review? Then…)

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Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you choose to purchase after clicking a link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

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