The City We Became

(The Great Cities Trilogy, Book 1)

437 pages

Published Aug. 8, 2020 by Orbit.

ISBN:
9780316509848

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (25 reviews)

In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn't remember who he is, where he's from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power. In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it's as if the paint is literally calling to her. In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels. And they're not the only ones.

8 editions

Wild ride

4 stars

This story will make such a great movie one day. Clearly cinematographic writing takes the reader through a fast-paced urban adventure. The main characters, city avatars, have been transformed into boroughs of New York. In other words, the City comes alive through the lives and bodies of Manny (Manhattan), Bronca (The Bronx), Brooklyn (Brooklyn), Padmini (Queens) and the primary avatar. They have to work together to defend the city against the invasion of a foreign being aiming to halt the growth and spirit of the city, and consequently cause conflict, pain and suffering. Aislyn (Staten Island), will find herself at a crossroads and have to choose which side she's on.

New York is the main character of this book, which is a complete whilrwind tour of a city under attack, but fighting back. Special appearances by avatars Sao Paulo and Hong Kong bring even more diversity to this urban mix …

my review of 'the city we became'

5 stars

Listened/read on Libby. Exciting present-day fantasy by an author quickly becoming a favorite! I really liked the way that the author played with cognition of multiple realities at the same time so that things were there/not there. By the end she set up a very intriguing moral dilemma surrounding life and the death required to sustain it-- can't wait to see where this takes us over the rest of the trilogy. Sometimes the conversations felt a little forced or on the nose, but it feels fine amidst the context of exhilarating sequences where the boroughs tap into their embodied powers. Read another review where someone described this as an allegory for a graphic novel -- which I agree with in a positive way :-)

Also shout out to the narrator for the audiobook, Robin Miles-- really kept me interested especially with all the different character voices.

A comic book allegory, artfully done

3 stars

I think this is a brilliantly woven allegory to modern NYC: racism, gentrification, and over-retailing.

As well-crafted as it is, it felt like a comic book to me (graphic novel would be a better term, I suppose). Superheroes on a quest, moving through a carefully defined universe of rules that need to be laid out before every next step.

Well-made, but not my cup of tea in fiction.

My review of 'The City We Became'

5 stars

Oh my. This book is so good! It's such a phenomenal subversion of Lovecraft's notion of horror while also being an excellent piece of Cosmic Horror that people have come to thoughouly associate with Lovecraft. The characters are vibrant and compelling, and so delightfully diverse! They are all very different people and it matters in the story, their diversity is a reflection of the diversity that is essential to the plot. This might be a go to example for me to point people to what meaningful diversity in characters looks like.

And the worldbuilding! I love it so much! What an incredibly cool and thought provoking was to construct a fictional reality. And I'm not entirely sure that it's all that fictional. The worldbuilding is born directly out of real problems and real struggles of communities. The birth of a city both invokes and evokes ideas that I'll be contemplating …

Putting "urban" in "urban fantasy"

4 stars

The City We Became is urban fantasy, in that it features a bunch of magical stuff happening in a modern day city. It's also urban fantasy in that it is about cities. People are cities and cities are people, and not in a metaphorical way, but in a more supernatural and literal way.

N. K. Jemisin manages to channel the spirit of New York City (where the novel's action focuses) through the novel's characters, without resorting to tired and popular stereotypes of the city and its people. While in a way the book is an ode to New York, it also doesn't shy away from some of its more dark and shameful aspects. All of this is wrapped up in writing that manages to be evocative and sufficiency casual to flow well. The book paints an engaging picture of both the real New York, and its fictional, supernatural, embodied New …

Review of 'The City We Became' on 'GoodReads'

3 stars

I think that if I lived in New York, or if I had even been there once, I would have considered it great. As it is, this was as fictional a setting as any other.The ending might have been the best ending for the story Jemisin was telling, but it felt very sudden and rushed and glossed over to me.## Why I Picked It Up ##Read all of the Fifth Season books and Jemisin instantly became one of my favorite authors. I was excited to see what she did with some more realistic, urban fantasy.## What I Liked ##I like the premise of sort of modern gods, living embodiments of the Great Cities.## What I Didn't Like ##Aislyn was creepy. I never could tell whether she was despicable or sympathetic. Maybe this should go under What I Liked. She was an interesting character.Like I said earlier, I didn't care the …

The City We Became

4 stars

This book was unlike anything I've read before (which is totes what I say every time I read one of Jemisin's books, but yanno). I loved how far out this one is, and how vividly I could see all of this coming together in my head even when the prose didn't... super make sense. There was some scifi/fantasy plodding at moments, and some of the characters didn't get as much airtime/development as others, but by and large this was a wild ride, exceedingly creative, and highly recommended. PS: I <3 Bronca and I hope she's in the next one!

Review of "The City We Became"

3 stars

I rarely think, "this would be better as a graphic novel", but strong vibes in the first third. It improved, unexpectedly, as it wove in heavy threads of current racial injustice and lovecraft-but-confronting-his-racism-head-on. Ultimately, a love story to NYC and tragic superheroes, which I'm just not enough in love with.

Review of 'The City We Became' on 'LibraryThing'

4 stars

There's a lot in this book. A love letter mainly to NYC but also to cities in general. And at the same time a really powerful allegory about whiteness and the terrible work it does - one which has only felt more timely in the few weeks since I read it. But I also found it kind of a frustrating read, because Jemisin repeatedly interrupts a good, clear story to somewhat condescendingly say "look reader, this bit's about whiteness", when the plot and characters were doing the work and really didn't need that help.[return][return]I do want to read the next in the series, but I hope that in book 2 she's more content to let the storytelling work.

Review of 'The City We Became' on 'Unknown'

5 stars

If I only knew how to write a fitting review.



The timing of this book's publication is as perfect as the story itself. This is a beautiful book despite dealing with a prime selection of the most horrible things life can throw at us: hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia, intersectionality, gentrification and even a very little dash of MRM.



Now, we just need to wait for the rest of the trilogy.

Review of 'The City We Became' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This was an excellent book. Jemisin manages to take an already well-established setting, the "mythological" New York, and take it to new heights with surrealist magic and eldritch horrors. A diverse set of characters lead the story as the avatars of the five boroughs of New York and it's really neat to see them embracing who they are and interacting with each other. Thanks to a fast paced plot, I finished this fairly quickly and kept wanting for more as there are some tantalizing mysteries left out in the open. I was presently surprised to hear in the acknowledgements (yes, I read those too) that this is the first of a trilogy. Looking forward to more books in this strange new universe!



For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2020/04/book-review-city-we-became-by-nk-jemisin.html

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