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.
Hi and welcome to my review of The City We Became!
You guys, I don’t even know where to begin… This book! This book got under my skin in unexpected ways. Is it the current corona situation, and people working together towards a common goal, i.e. defeating a common enemy, that got to me (and perhaps more than it would otherwise)? Is it my love for the city of New York, the city where I spent part of my honeymoon and the city I’ll always have the fondest memories of, that enhanced my reading experience and enjoyment? Or is it just plain excellent storytelling that got me feeling this way? Probably D all of the above, and then some.
New York City is unlike any other city in the world. No city has featured more in TV shows or movies than NYC, no city holds such an allure. The City We Became is a love letter to NYC, but doesn’t shy away from criticising it either. It made me want to hop on a plane and go back there, and visit all the boroughs I missed out on the first time around. (Someday I will, but given the current situation that day is not today.)
In The City We Became, the world is exactly as we know it, except that one by one, cities come alive. The shortest way to describe it, although not entirely correct, is that cities are born into a person, as a person, and if you hurt that person, you hurt the city, and vice versa. When a city awakens as a person, it faces total annihilation from this kind of extra-terrestrial power that wants to take its place. Few people realise that’s what’s going on though, think of Katrina in New Orleans or the earthquake in Port-au-Prince.
And now NYC is (re)born. In a person, as a person. A person who is now NYC. However, New York isn’t simply New York. It is Manhattan and Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, it is Staten Island. So when the city comes alive, it comes alive in 6 people, one for each borough and one to bind them. Until they find each other, each of the boroughs needs to fend off the enemy out to annihilate them, and even when they have found each other, the battle is not so easily won.
The City We Became is top-notch urban fantasy, but it is much more than that. I love how Ms Jemisin depicted each of the boroughs, giving them specific characteristics, truly bringing them to life. I loved each and every one of them, I enjoyed their journey (both literally and figuratively) tremendously and I found the finale highly satisfying. The first instalment of the Great Cities trilogy, The City We Became still brings closure. Obviously, it leaves the door open a crack for a second novel, and believe me I can’t wait to find out what happens next, but it doesn’t end on a major cliffhanger, which I very much appreciate.
The City We Became is a well-written, well-researched piece of art, displaying so much love for NYC and its multicultural inhabitants, scratching an itch I hadn’t even realised I had.
Highly recommended to fans of urban fantasy, fans of NYC, fans of a great story!
All my thanks to Nazia @ Orbit for the gorgeous hardback! All my opinions are still my own.