Book: The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth 1) by N.K. Jemisin
Release Date: August 4th 2015
Tags: Fantasy / Second Person Point of View / Diverse Reads / POC / LGBTQ+ / Homosexual / Bisexual / Transexual
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS. AGAIN.
Three terrible things happen in a single day.
Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.
She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
Last year I tried to read The Fifth Season. I read the prologue and immediately put it back down. It was so confusing, I couldn’t imagine keeping my head in the game at the time. This year I buddy read the book with Alicia from A Kernel of Nonsense. And as I read the prologue I was again hit with the confusion and the dread that I was not going to like this book.
Boy was I wrong.
The book takes place on an alternate Earth called the Stillness where seismic activity has taken over and there is always the threat of The Fifth Season, events that bring close extinction. Orogenes have even more to worry about though as their control of the Earth makes them feared by others.
After the prologue we meet Essun who has just lost her son by the hand of her husband who has also abducted their daughter. She will do anything to get her back. It was interesting to see that her point of view was written from a second person point of view. The you perspective. I had some reservations about this initially but I was quickly swallowed up in the story in the way that I stopped noticing.
We also follow the perspectives of Damaya and Syen whose stories are told in third person point of view. The three point of views show us a complete picture of the world of the Stillness. How it is to be an Orogene child, how the organization works that takes in all the Orogene and the world out there. The world building in that regard is amazing.
The writing itself is also splendid. N.K. Jemisin manages to weave in hints here and there that had be second guessing myself and I only knew at the last second somewhere that yes I had been right about that thing. And I think it was at that point that I really fell hard for this book. Because even though it had crossed my mind I still went ‘Oh my gosh’ in my mind. I hadn’t realized before that point how completely submerged into this book and this story I had become. And these characters.
I loved all the characters. I found Damaya’s point of views a little less interesting than the rest as hers just weren’t as dynamic but otherwise all the characters were amazing. Not just the three point of views that we get. But also Hoa, Essun’s new travel partner and Tonkee. Or Alabaster who rubs so splendidly against our Syen. These characters are all diverse in various ways. Most of these characters are people of color. And there is also homosexual, bisexual and transgender representation.
And yet by the end of this book not a lot has wrapped up I realized. We are certainly no step further in Essun’s quest. It is truly the first introduction to this world. The set up to this wondrous complex world and characters. It is why I ended up rating this book 4,5 and not 5 stars though there is a chance this might change in the future.
I am very excited to read the next two however.