Mini Review – The Fifth Season

Hello, everyone! I’ve got another mini review today. This was a re-read of a book I read almost five years ago. I never finished the trilogy despite loving the first book and have always wanted to read them all. So, one of my goals for this year is to finish the trilogy, starting with this re-read of The Fifth Season. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up bumping my rating up another star on Goodreads.

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.

This book deserves all the stars. I’m honestly not even sure how to review it. It was unlike anything else I’ve ever read, and that held up even on this re-read after five years. The world-building was some of the best I’ve ever encountered, and the setting Jemisin created here was completely foreign while also being disturbingly familiar. The blend of science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian/apocalyptic elements in the story was incredibly interesting, and I loved how the history of the world was slowly and intricately weaved throughout the narrative. The plot was intriguing, and the three perspectives ended up coming together in a way that made sense and added great depth to the main character. The most common emotion I had while reading was revulsion; this book packs a punch and does not shy away from horrible things. The world Jemisin created is truly brutal to everyone, but especially brutal to the main characters, most of whom belong to a group of second-class citizens known as orogenes. The impacts of discrimination, oppression/control, and living with an important part of yourself hidden were explored in agonizing detail. I also loved the diversity of the cast of characters and particularly appreciated LGBT rep. It’s not often you see a polyamorous relationship between a straight woman, gay man, and bi man. I’ll be honest, though. The pace was slow at times, and the writing definitely took some getting used to. It is not often you come across a second person narrative in present tense, but by the end of the book I enjoyed that aspect of the writing more than I thought I would when I started out. The only other potentially negative thing about this book is that it is clearly book one of a series. The plot felt like it didn’t really go anywhere significant and was instead focused on introducing and setting up the characters and world. It definitely left me intrigued, and I loved it for what it was. However, I prefer each book of a series to tell its own story, and I didn’t really get that from this one since the characters didn’t really accomplish much of anything other than meeting up. Overall, this was truly a groundbreaking book that I enjoyed just as much on my second time through it. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and am excited to finally see what happens next!

7 thoughts on “Mini Review – The Fifth Season

  1. Lovely review… I read this one almost at the same time as you did and binge read the trilogy. But I always wonder if I’ll get a better understanding of it if I reread it now after having gained some sff reading experience.

    • Thank you! I definitely recommend a re-read. It was a different experience since I knew how the three perspectives came together in the end from the very beginning. I enjoyed it a lot more having some idea of where the seemingly disparate threads were heading and focused more on the details this time around, I think.

      • I get what you mean. This trilogy and Robert Jackson Bennett’s Divine Cities trilogy are two I wanna reread slowly and see how much I still like them and what more details I might find this time..

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