Monday, 10 July 2017

Review: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

Title: The Fifth Season
Series: The Broken Earth #1
Author: N. K. Jemisin
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 512
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-fi

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS . . . FOR THE LAST TIME.

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 must confess that at first I wasn't really enjoying The Fifth Season, because the reader is dropped into the story and is expected to work everything out as they go along. This of course means that I was confused as hell for the first half of the book as various different terms and slang was thrown at me. By the time I got to grips with what the fudge was going on, I really enjoyed this incredibly unique story.

The Fifth Season is an exquisite blend of fantasy and science fiction but for me it read more as a science fiction. The story is very hard to explain as it is exquisitely layered and quite complex, but essentially it is about a mono-continent called the Stillness that has semi regular natural disasters that make living there quite unpredictable and difficult. The humans living in this world spend their lives in communities preparing for these disasters, with some humans being born with supernatural abilities that can control and influence the earth and natural world. These people are called 'Orogenes' and they are discriminated against and generally feared; they are either killed as a child or the lucky ones are sent to the 'Fulcrum' which is a special academy to train them to be useful. We follow three characters who all possess these special abilities as they each struggle to make sense of their place in this world.

There is absolutely no hand-holding in this book, I had to concentrate quite hard in order to really understand what was going on. The world building is amazing and although it took quite a lot of patience it really did pay off by the end. I genuinely cannot stop thinking about it. This world felt so real and I became completely invested in all of the character and I cannot wait to find out the answer to all of the little mysteries in this book. From 'Obelisks' to 'Stone Eaters', it was utterly fascinating.

I would highly recommend this book if you are looking for something fresh and different. However, I would say that it does require focus and commitment in order to get the most out of it. It wasn't until half way that I really started to get into it but it definitely has a lot of re-read value and I can't wait to continue on and read the next book.

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