Book Review

REVIEW: The City We Became

May 5, 2020
The City We Became Book Cover
The City We Became Great Cities #1 Fantasy Orbit Paperback 437 pages

Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every 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 five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

My Thoughts:

This was one of those books that I read the synopsis of and I had to read, HAD TO! the hype was helped with knowing that Jemisin had won the Hugo award three years in a row for each installment in her Broken Earth trilogy. I loved the idea of human avatars of cities, and that big complex ones like New York City had multiple avatars. The richness and diversity, of the cast and the way that they shine through the complexity of this city, were instantly apparent.

I am so thrilled at how much not only did this book deliver but it hit the ball out of the park! It exceeds my expectations and the world-building and magic system was complex and unique and brilliant. We get to explore the complex and astounding thing that makes New York City the wonderful and magical place that it is with people flocking to it for generations. Our cast is diverse from new immigrants to Lenape natives, asexual, lesbians, and more. The chapter swap places showing the perspective of various characters as they each struggle with what they are now. They try to protect their lives and in turn the life of the newborn City.

What I did not expect was the way this book challenges the racism of Lovecraft while drawing from the richness of his work. The Enemy as it is first called shows its self repetitively has a tentacled being trying to spread it’s bland whiteness and aggressive close-mindedness through the world to take down this newborn city and destroy the avatars. As the book moves on our foe takes the shape of the Woman in White, who is indeed absolutely white and representation of both modern white supremacy movement but also at her core the racist aspect of Lovecraft’s work.

This isn’t just left to subtext either, the characters actively talk about his work and it’s racism and xenophobia, along with his disgust in New York City. In the end, the book hits home with a powerful message of how the white nationalism which is on a rise in America seeks to destroy everything that makes New York City what it is. How the twisted way Lovecraft saw the city, and other races robs people of a richer experience of life. A life with feminist cubist art galleries, Vietnamese crepe fusion restaurants and so much more!

I give The City We Became:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Review Copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin was published on 24 March 2020 by Orbit Books. You can purchase your own copy at Mighty Ape, Whitcoulls, Booktopia, Hachette , or wherever you like to purchase books.

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  • Reply dominds May 6, 2020 at 11:40 pm

    You’ve written a great review, I hope to read this one soon! <3

  • Reply Sarah Fairbairn May 9, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    Loving the sound of this! Have added it to my TBR list.

  • Reply littlemissstar55 May 15, 2020 at 12:04 am

    I know how excited you were for this one, and it makes me so happy that you loved it! 💜

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