The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin

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This book is beautiful, this book is smart, this book is oh so heartbreaking, and this book is a masterpiece. This is one of those books that make you feel absolutely guilty for giving out five stars to other books. This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read, but it felt so seamlessly woven. This book mirrors the society we live in today and makes you think about all those uncomfortable topics you’d rather ignore and pretend do not exist. This book has the best representation I’ve ever read in a SFF novel. This book is deserving of all the hype, all the praise, and every ounce of love it’s received. This book easily is now one of my favorite books of all time.

“Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we?”

This story is set in a world called the Stillness, where earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other terrible things impacting the earth are constantly happening, but there are people who are able to manipulate the earth to ease them. These people are called orogenes and even though they are continually saving the world they are constantly oppressed slaves. This world has convinced everyone that orogenes are dangerous and need to be controlled at all costs. It is illegal to harbor orogenes and you must turn them in, even if they are your family. The price of hiding a orogene is great and most people are not willing to pay it. If a orogene isn’t killed by their community before they are turned in, they are taken to a training school called the Fulcrum where they are deemed worthy enough to train

Everyone in the Stillness is trying to survive the world’s unforgiving environment. This planet is beyond unstable, because of Fifth Seasons that happens sporadically, but almost wipe out the planet each and every time. The people in this world are scared that a new Fifth Season is about to begin. And just so you understand the severe of the living conditions during a Fifth Season, here are some examples:

Choking Season – with volcanic eruptions which caused ash that, if it didn’t kill you from breathing it in, the lack of sunlight for five years would try to.
Acid Season – with plus-ten-level earthquakes, which caused many volcanoes that caused the water to become acidic.
Boiling Season – with hot spot eruptions that began underneath a great lake and made millions of gallons of steam which triggered acidic ran.
Fungus Season – with volcanic eruptions during monsoon season which made for perfect fungal spreading that wiped out major food supplies.

These are just a few of the season, and without orogenes this world wouldn’t be able to keep a new Fifth Season at bay. This book follows three different girls who are each struggling to survive this horrible world and struggling with their own individual journeys:

Essun – An older woman whose husband has killed their young son, because he showed that he was a orogene. He inherited his powers from Essun, but they were keeping it hidden from their community. Essun is now off to find her husband who fled after the murder and took their daughter with him.

Damaya – A small girl who realized she was a orogene after an accidental attack. Her family is isn’t willing to pay the price of harboring her, especially since her community now knows what she is. Her parents call the authorities and she is going to be taken to the Fulcrum, where they can train and use orogenes if they are trainable and submissive.

Syenite – A young woman who has lived the majority of her life at the Fulcrum being trained. At the Fulcrum, as you increase your learning and abilities you will earn rings that signify your power and allows you more privileges. Syenite has four rings, which is impressive in its own way, but she is now assigned to breed with the only ten ring around, so she can give the Fulcrum her child in hopes that it will be very powerful and very trainable.

“Orogeny is damned useful, Syenite is beginning to understand, for far, far more than just quelling shakes.”

Yet the side characters are amazing, too. Hoa, Alabaster, Tonkee, Innon, all of them, along side these three women, worked their way into my heart. This whole dystopian world that only wants to kill itself worked its way into my heart. This story is and these characters are truly one of a kind.

This book perpetuates so many healthy ideas absolutely seamlessly:
➽This book is unapologetically black and it’s something of beauty.
➽This book is about systematic oppression, set in an expertly crafted SFF novel.
➽This book has one of the best polyamorous relationships I’ve ever read.
➽This book has bisexual and gay representation that was perfection.
➽This book has a wonderful transgender side character who everyone accepts without question.
➽This book even celebrates found families and the importance of finding your own people that will love and accept you unconditionally.

“Home is what you take with you, not what you leave behind.”

This book creates so many parallels to the world we live in today. This book, hopefully, will make you think about your internalized racism and the prejudices that you hold without even realizing it. The reason so many of us think the way we do today, in 2017, is because our world has told us to think this way without even being given a chance to think differently. This book even has a fictionalized slur for orogenes that made my stomach turn every time I read it. This book is raw and painful at times, so very painful, but it’s such an important story. And I’m still unsure if I’ve ever read anything as sad as the node maintainers in all of my life. The Fifth Season isn’t just an amazing SFF novel, it’s a parallel to our world today, and I recommend everyone not only read this novel, but to open their eyes while reading this novel.

N.K. Jemisin did all this and wrote one of the best SFF stories I’ve ever read in my life. She deserves every award she won for this masterpiece, if not more. This book is deserving of all the hype, all the praise, and every ounce of love it’s received. This book easily is now one of my favorite books of all time and I can’t wait to read The Obelisk Gate.

“This is what you must remember: the ending of one story is just the beginning of another.”

Also, please go watch the best review of The Fifth Season ever created, by my all time favorite Booktuber, Adriana, from perpetualpages! Their review brings me to tears every time I watch it, and I hope my review plus theirs will make you pick up this powerful and important book with one of the best stories ever written.

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23 thoughts on “The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin

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