It Deserves Every Accolade: The Fifth Season
A few weeks ago, I finished How Long ‘Til Black Future Month, by NK Jemisin, a short story collection I highly recommend. Even though I actually owned The Fifth Season prior to owning Future Month, I purposely read Jemisin’s short story collection first before diving into The Fifth Season. I made the right choice—reading her short works made me even more excited to dive into The Fifth Season.
And wow, did this fantasy novel not disappoint. I’d recommend every fantasy author or reader of fantasy read The Fifth Season; as an author myself, I’ll speak to why EVERY fantasy author should read this book.
Simply put, The Fifth Season illustrates all the right ways to break genre trends, writing rules, and narrative norms. If you’re an author at the beginning of their career, The Fifth Season is a textbook in what is possible with the written word once you’ve mastered the craft.
Every possible “rule” taught to authors in creative writing class, Jemisin breaks with ease. And the beauty of it all? Every time she does it, it makes sense. It works. It’s perfect. She uses parentheses, missing punctuation, broken paragraphs, every tool possible to blend voice and tense and perspective and character into the narrative.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The narrative itself is told through three distinct point-of-views which merge and intersect with superb skill. Even when you think you know what’s coming, little curve balls throw you off course and into a new paradigm for approaching the story.
When you finish The Fifth Season, you’re left with more questions than answers . . . but they’re all the right questions, and it leaves you aching for the sequel.
Writing: 10/10. I think I illustrated above why the writing is spectacular. Even when creating her own vernacular, it merges with the narrative with such ease that I never questioned what a word meant.
Character: 10/10. Every character has depth unparalleled in modern fantasy.
Setting: 10/10. The world has more depth packed into its 450 pages than exists within most 700 - 1000 page tomes. And this was just book 1!
Plot: 10/10. When you think you know the truth about The Fifth Season, it’s turned on its head. Again. and Again. and
Yet it all makes sense, weaving the beginning of a tapestry I can’t wait to reveal when I read the next two books.
Overall: 10/10. Seriously, Jemisin, stop destroying my conception of what’s possible when writing fiction.
You must read this book.