It’s been 12 days since I turned the last page on N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season and the novel is still on my mind. I’m glad that I savored it instead of rushing through Jemisin’s writing. I usually breeze through a 300+ page novel in a 2-3 days, but I stretched out The Fifth Season over the span of 10 days. That’s slow for me. I didn’t want to miss anything in the complex and fascinating world Jemisin created.
To keep this review as spoiler free as possible, I’m going to share the official book blurb. It’s hard for me to describe the plot without giving anything away:
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.
I know the blurb doesn’t say too much about the novel. As with most fantasies for me, it takes a bit of time to immerse myself into a new world. Jemisin makes this transition easier for me. As soon as I dive into The Fifth Season, I can tell that she’s already created her world The Stillness in her head. She’s thought about everything: the caste system, geography, folklore and myths. She doesn’t dump it on us all at once, but paces it so that readers can absorb all the nuances and layers. She is truly a master at world building.
The Fifth Season is written in a series of flashbacks. The current storyline is how the world is changing after a big rift as Essun searches for her daughter. The flashbacks are about a little girl discovering her powers, while a third storyline is how a young but powerful woman uncovers the lies she’s been taught.
While the three storylines seem separate, they eventually connect. I could see it coming, but not in a predictable or disappointing way. For me it, was finding those last few pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and the satisfaction of setting them in their places.
This might be one of the most vague reviews I’ve written. Trust me, The Fifth Season is worth your time. Make sure you savor it because it’s the first of Jemisin’s new trilogy. I have no idea when the second book will be published, but it’s on my autobuy list!