Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Book Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Book Review: Auxiliary: London 2039 by Jon Richter
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Published: August 4, 2015

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction

Pages: 468

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.

Thoughts: The Fifth Season takes place on a kind of alternate Earth where there is one large continent called The Stillness, on which after an unspecified amount of time, something called a "Fifth Season" happens. Essentially the Fifth Season is some catastrophic event that basically causes huge climate change around the world, often in the form of a huge volcano erupting, or big earthquakes, that sort of thing. What makes this fantasy and not strictly science fiction, however, is that there are certain people within the world called orogenes that are able to control Earthly elements, quelling or creating earthquakes... okay look, there's a lot more going on than that, but that gives you a general idea that's a little more descriptive than the synopsis.

So! There's a reason that this book won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016. You might wonder when you first start reading it if the hype is worth it, but keep going. As with many books where you are being introduced to a new world, it takes a little bit of time to really get into it. The structure of the book itself is interesting, I honestly don't really want to say much more than that to give anything away, but it had me wondering about certain things (yes, I am being vague on purpose), which kept me going past any parts that were a little slow in the beginning. 

What I often like about fantasy and science fiction, and what is also present here, is that the stories, while having fantastical elements that obviously do not happen in our world, they are often surrounded by social and societal issues that are very relevant to our own experience, thus making the story connect more. Climate change, other-ness, family, all surrounded by an underlying mystery and people with interesting powers. If you like fantasy and science fiction at all, I would definitely recommend you check this out. I'm certainly going to be reading the rest of the series, and luckily it's all already published, so there doesn't have to be any waiting around unless it's my choice to do so.

Rating: 4.5/5

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What I'm Reading Next: The Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta

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  1. I recently finished this one as well and really enjoyed it. I can't wait to continue in the series!