Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 7, 2017.
I don't think I can fully review this book without spoiling it, and that is just something I do not want to do. I went into this book knowing nothing about it other than it won the Hugo, was nominated for numerous other awards (Nebula, Locus, Kitschies, Goodreads), and would probably be well written as I've read another of Jemisin's books (Killing Moon) and found the writing lovely. I didn't know what it was about, or even really whether it was sci-fi or fantasy. And I'm so glad I went in blind. Every layer that peeled back felt like a revelation.
Here is what I feel like I *can* say without spoiling anything. Jemisin's prose is wonderful. The book is long, but it doesn't drag. In fact, it felt like a quick read despite the length and density. The way the story unfolds, granting you new knowledge slowly one piece at a time, kept me engaged throughout and prevented any sort of info dump exhaustion. The world building is interesting, rich, well thought out, and unique. I've never read about a world quite like the one she has built here, and she has done such a good job with the details that it felt fully realized and real. The characters were multi-faceted and complex. I cared about them, and I hurt when they hurt. I also appreciated the diversity of the cast, and the portrayal of different relationships you don't often get to see in fiction.
If I elaborate more I feel like I'd be doing you a disservice. What you really need to know is this is a wonderful book, well worth the buzz and praise. I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy and see what more Jemisin has in store for her readers.
I seriously begin to wonder what kind of problem I have with hyped books. Because this is another one of these books that almost everybody loves and I just didn´t feel the love for it at all. One problem may be that I´m not the biggest fantasy fan, but there are some fantasy books out there that I do enjoy, so I don´t think the genre is the cause for my dislike of The Fifth Season. The biggest problem I had was with the way that N.K. Jemesin has told her story.
But let me start with the only positive thing in this book: the worldbuilding and the origins. The characters inhabit a continent, which gets periodically hit by catastrophes such as earthquakes and vulcanic eruptions. This world is inhabited by people that aren´t able to control any kind of magic and by people, called origins, that are able to control earths magic and thus are able to quell the shakes and eruptions. Jemesin slowly reveals how the world is functioning and I think she did an incredibly job with this.
But I really disliked the structure of the story. The story is told from the perspective of three different female characters and throughout most of the book it isn´t clear how these three characters are connected with each other. One of the characters didn´t add anything significant to the overall storyline, one character was constantly angry and sulky and the third character was constantly depressed and sad, because something horrible has happened to her.
I suppose the author has meant for me to care about these characters, but I sincerely didn´t care about any of them. There is that big twist towards the end and I haven´t been shocked by it. The only thing I could think about was that the last three hours of the audiobook would turn into the most boring thing ever, because the story became totally predictable from this point onward. And it happened to be that way, it turned into a snooze fest because I just didn´t care.
I guess I have to mention that one narrative is told in second person present tense and I didn´t really enjoy this kind of narration as well.
I listened to this book on audio and the narrator Robin Miles and I enjoyed the narration. I´m pretty sure that I would have DNF´d this novel as a physical book. However, on audio I managed to finish it and I can bank it for the Booklikes-opoly as a book that starts with a F.
Page count: 468 pages
Money earned: $5.00
In the end I really didn´t enjoy this book. So, in celebration of finishing The Fifth Season I will enjoy a glass of wine today, because:
I somehow have to regain the time I have spend reading this book, right?
I just listened to the big, revelatory plot twist and I feel ... nothing. I don´t think that is a good sign.
So far I´m not madly in love with this book and I don´t think that the last couple of minutes are going to change anything about this. As a matter of fact I´m glad when I´m done with this audiobook.