Why is it that I can’t seem to be able to write a review for The Fifth Season for so long? I’ve finished it at the end of April, now it’s August, and lo and behold – the review has not materialized.
I’ll tell you why.
Because when I finish a good book, and I mean a really, truly, unbelievably good book, I struggle with the review a lot. The insecurity of writing something sub-par kicks in, and you wouldn’t allow yourself to write a middling review for a book that was this good. Would you?
My initial reaction to The Fifth Season was, I am sorry to say, one of disappointment. Because this book should really come with the disclaimer of RTFM (read the f*cking manual), or rather, RTFG (read the f*cking glossary!) But now that I’m finished with it, I can say that in reality – it’s no drawback. It’s a positive thing, really – it’s just that this book has you so submersed in the experience of the world you’re reading about, that at first you don’t quite know what to make of it. But when you do…
(Okay, so the book doesn’t really have magic. That was more for illustrating the point of how you feel when you’re reading it.)
Anyway. I am almost confident that nearly everyone but me has already read The Fifth Season, but for those of you who haven’t, let me spin you a little tale about what is going on in it. The start is a little rough on the reader, especially if you, like me, won’t look at the glossary first. N.K. Jemisin has crafted a whole vocabulary of words especially for this universe, and physics that only works here. That in and of itself if already amazing! But it makes for a tough initial reading experience. So if you feel overwhelmed at first, do not despair! It shall all pass.
Once you untangle everything, reading The Fifth Season becomes an incredibly immersive experience. You start off with three characters, and for at least half the book, all you will be doing will be trying to figure out how they come together and how all of it makes sense. The only thing you really know is that in this world, apocalypses are not a one-time thing. You will have many theories (if you’re like me), and that’s greatly enjoyable. Those three characters will introduce you to different aspects of how that world works, how ruthless it is, and not just because it’s crumbling in the throes of yet another end of the world, but also because of how the society has shaped itself. Which is perhaps even more cruel than the apocalypse itself. The interesting thing, of course, is what this end of the world has to do with the three characters you’re meeting.
And unfortunately, that is all I can tell you about this book before I start seriously spoiling your fun. The rest is up to your little brain, crafting away at its theories about what’s really happening, why, and even when. Instead, let me just give you an assuring list of what to expect from The Fifth Season, and perhaps that will help you make up your mind about it:
✓ A dark and extremely imaginative, gritty fantasy story
✓ Raw, real and no-nonsense characters (no pouty and mock-perfect people who don’t need to wash their hair!)
✓ A very multi-faceted, realistic and colorful MC
✓ I did say dark, didn’t I. It’s definitely adult fantasy, so it’s pretty damn serious
✓ I would say YES for the #diversity
✓ No plot-twist loopholes or exploitation
✓ It leaves so many story lines open that you can’t help but want to read the next book ASAP
Long story short, you know it’s a good book when I am at a loss for words. I’ve been sitting here trying to write this review for more than an hour, but I just can’t tell you more. It’s been months, and I’m just as overwhelmed about this book as I was before. Maybe it will be easier to understand the caliber of The Fifth Season if I give you a selection of books with a similar feel (measured in darkness, rawness and flight of imagination):
So read it! I swear you won’t regret it. I can’t wait till I get my hands on the second part, I’ve been eyeing it for forever now. You can buy The Fifth Season at Book Depository and by doing so, you are supporting my blog.
Have you heard about this series,
or better yet, read it? I will eagerly wait for your opinion in the comments!