437 pages

Published April 7, 2020 by Orbit.

ISBN:
978-0-316-50984-8
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4 stars (138 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.

9 editions

Superhero Story

4 stars

It took me a while to get into this story but I'm glad I stuck with it. If you like stories with a lot of battles between heroes and monster villains, this is your book. While I enjoy a superhero show as much as the next person, reading fight scenes in a novel is not to my taste. As the story unfolds, the social commentary ramps up. Would be especially relevant to New Yorkers who are familiar with personalities of the city's boroughs. As an outsider, I understood enough to see where the story was headed but I'm sure it offer more to New York inhabitants. I read this book via audiobook and enjoyed the voicing and dramatization.

Must Read Urban Fantasy

5 stars

NK Jemisin is an incredibly good writer. This book makes me feel the injustice happening to these charters in such a strong way, that I have to take breaks. This book also celebrates black joy, and the important place various cultures have in our cities. This book feels like a victory lap, and after winning 3 straight Hugos, Jemisin continued on to show why she is one of the best writers of our time.

And What a City It Is!

5 stars

“The City We Became,” by N.K. Jemisin, reminds me a lot of Neil Gaiman’s works. Not necessarily in prose, but certainly in worldbuilding. The concept of Avatars of cities, the power of stories and belief, and using old myths to spin modern fantasies, all certainly do.

The characters are all very well done, with each having a very distinct personality and perspective, and by extension give an interesting view of New York according to the author - a place I have admittedly never been (drive-through doesn’t count, I think). They also bounce off each other in interesting, dramatic, sometimes charming and sometimes tragic ways. I find the dynamics fascinating when the Characters ARE the setting.

That was aided in how I read this book - the audiobook version - which was an absolutely fantastic experience. The reader was able to give each character a very distinct voice, mannerism, and accent, …

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

3 stars

A poetic urban fantasy with a taste of cosmic horror that functions as (yet another) love letter to New York city. The fundamental concepts, that cities can inhabit one of their denizens who function as their avatar and defend themselves from nefarious beings from across the multiverse, lay a grand stage but the mechanics didn't make much sense to me. There is a lot of hand waving that means you just have to roll with it, and combined with the decorative language it makes for a surreal read, the sort of thing I'd normally enjoy. It feels like the sort of thing that would adapt well to animation, or at least you can see how animation may have inspired it.

However, the book also functions as an intersectional feminist tract, employing an extremely diverse cast of characters and watching them wind each other up. The big bad is the personification …

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

3 stars

Promising idea; disappointing execution. The villains were cartoonish, full-on evil with no depth or nuance whatsoever; I kept hoping for a mustachio twirl, it would’ve made them more believable. Going with the Lovecraft mythos—not just inspired-by, but literal straight-out-of-his-books stuff—annoyed me; it brings attention, indirect validation even, to someone who doesn’t deserve it. And, far too many convenient little miracles: even with the handwavey “the city takes care of its own” rationalization, the improbabilities were too much for me. So were the plot inconsistencies.

Possibly fun for a resident of New York, especially someone with tribalistic attachment to one of the subdivisions (Brooklyn, Bronx, whatever). Probably a lot of insider references that they can enjoy and relate to. For the rest of us, fun light reading with interesting, likable, strong female characters and passable tension. Just don’t expect anything as rich and complex as Jemisin’s earlier work.

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. …

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