Book Review: The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

The City we became n.k. jemisin book review
city we became n.k. jemisin

Title: The City We Became
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Release Date: March 24, 2020
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 437
Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo
Rating: Book Club It
Disclaimer: Mild Spoilers.

summary book review

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. (Goodreads)

Thoughts book review

This book has to be one of the most unique concepts I have read in years.

It had insane worldbuilding, developed characters, diversity and representation everywhere you looked, and a writing style that was impossible not to lose oneself in.

I listened to both the audiobook and read the e-book for this one (I didn’t finish the audiobook in time with my library – classic me), so I had to switch. I was really disappointed in myself on that point because this book is easily one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to. The narrator, Robin Miles, was phenomenal. She did accents and voices for each of the characters and she didn’t just read this book, she acted this book. I felt like I was listening to a movie this audiobook was that well produced.

As someone who has never been to New York and dislikes the very idea of cities, I’m the last person to comment on how well this book represents New York. Nevertheless, from a reader’s perspective, it felt like I was right there in the city. This book was one big homage to the city from its pavements to its skyscrapers, to the people of all the boroughs, to the emotion and anger and hatred and passion and love that lives in every nook and cranny of New York.

I couldn’t get enough of Jemisin’s writing. I have now added her Broken Earth Trilogy to my TBR and expect to fall in love with it. She has one of the best grasps of worldbuilding I have read in years and it was refreshing and emerging. I honestly don’t really love science fiction or urban fantasy (if there aren’t swords I don’t want it) and I didn’t expect to like this. Especially when it threw in Lovecraftian elements. My first thought when tentacles shot out of the East River was ‘Oh no, this book is not for me’, but I am glad I kept reading. This book had me in its tentacled grasp from page one.

The one place where I struggled was that this book felt like it was trying to say too much. Jemisin explored so many topics including racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, police brutality, classism, politics, LGBTQ+, and pretty much anything else that occurs in or plagues New York. It was about an entire city after all. At times though, it just felt like a lot. Each character was dealing with different issues and the narrative was jumping so quickly between all their POVs that it was hard to focus on one point or another. With that, it was also hard sometimes to know what was going on in the story. This book starts off extremely confusing. I honestly checked my audiobook about ten times to double-check that I hadn’t accidentally fast-forwarded a few chapters. The reader is thrown in from chapter 1 and it can be a bit hard to get your bearings from there. The ending also felt a bit weak and anticlimatic. There was a lot of build-up and then the ending felt a bit easy and quick.

Overall, I loved this book for the writing and the absolute genius that was the concept. If you plan on reading this book, definitely check out the audiobook first. I feel like the way it was produced really added to my enjoyment of The City We Became.


Have you read The City We Became? Have you read any N.K. Jemisin?

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3 Comments

    1. I keep hearing that! I’m planning to pick it up soon. I haven’t been in a fantasy reading mood lately, but as soon as I am that’s the first book I plan on picking up. I wanted to read it before reading City We Became and after that book I definitely need to read Broken Earth! – Amber

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