Review: The City We Became by N.K Jemisin

‘Every battle is a dance. She was always a good dancer at the pow wows, and these days? The steel toed boots dwell permanently in her soul.’

In the year of our lord, 2020, N.K Jemisin has declared ware on H.P Lovecraft and my word it’s about time someone did at last. Over the past few years I have seen some wonderful groups that would have been otherwise targeted by the stories of Lovecraft and re imagine his stories for a world that includes them. They shove themselves into these worlds reminding this dude everyone loves that they exist too in all worlds. Then N.K Jemisin showed up to the party and smashed his knee in.

Every great city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got six. But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all

This is book has been one of the most anticipated SFF titles of the year and I was lucky enough to receive this for review and oh my word did it deliver. Jemisin will definitely be an author you would have heard of it you are any way in touch with SFF books, the Hugo’s or just any form of online book spaces for fantasy readers. This is a bit of a step back for Jemisin since this is a book set in our world. Her previous works have been set in far more distant worlds and this one is truly a shining star.

The beginning of a new trilogy, this journey actually began with her Tor.com short story, The City Born Great. I have never been to New York myself but I felt every single twist and turn of the city as it moved off the page. Each and every street and person felt as real and genuine as the book itself. Its hard to write imaginary worlds like the Dreaming, Discworld and Hogwarts but its hard to make a real place live on a page. The impact of the otherworldly dangers felt even more surreal as a result.

Where the book really shines here is through each and every character. Like with many of the author’s books, most characters are PoC along with not being any shape or form of hetero normative. The majority of the book is focused on the characters since they are the city itself and does as a result take a bit longer to assemble them all for the final act but I really liked that part of it. This felt very true to the struggle of meeting people that are supposed to be ‘on your side’ but when you finally meet them they are just a regular idiot like you.

The play off of certain boroughs of New York against was very entertaining but was woven within one of the main themes of the plot. That of course being breaking the mold society has made for you and throwing the plaster dust back in their faces. Noone does confronting bias and bigotry like Jemisin but something I really loved was that despite 90% of the characters being not white, each has to confront some form of bias they have or even in cases, a type of privilege.

I mentioned this already but I challenge anyone to find fault with the writing. This book did take me a bit longer than I thought it would to finish but every time I picked this up I was hooked on every sentence, every word and the flow of the plot is so seamless that I never even realised the end was coming. Jemisin jumps between 3 different persons, from first right up to third , and it is done so well that it will not break the engagement of the story. Every city has a soul and N.K Jemisin has captured it here as a testament to everyone who grew up in one both loving and hating it at the same time.

I want to thank Nazia from Orbit so much for sending me a finished copy of this book to review. This will not disappoint and is definitely one of my favourite books of the year. Thank you for reading this and do tell me if you are going to read this! Happy reading everyone!

★★★★★/5

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Kelly says:

    I finished it yesterday, it was a five-star read for me too, I’m definitely going to look into her earlier books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read The Fifth Season but am not sure if I finished it or not so I’ll be doing the same!

      Like

  2. bkfrgr says:

    I need to get on this I think! As soon as I have some money again I’m going to be all over this book – it sounds sooooooo frigging awesome!!
    Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Glad you liked it! Highly recommend it when you do get the chance! 😁❤

      Liked by 1 person

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