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The City We Became: A Novel (The Great…
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The City We Became: A Novel (The Great Cities Trilogy, 1) (vuoden 2020 painos)

– tekijä: N. K. Jemisin (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1,539679,039 (4)84
"Five New Yorkers must come together in order to save their city from destruction in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin. Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She's got six. When a young man crosses the bridge into New York City, something changes. He doesn't remember who he is, where he's from, or even his own name. But he can feel the pulse of the city, can see its history, can access its magic. And he's not the only one. All across the boroughs, strange things are happening. Something is threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all"--… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:stripymanticore
Teoksen nimi:The City We Became: A Novel (The Great Cities Trilogy, 1)
Kirjailijat:N. K. Jemisin (Tekijä)
Info:Orbit (2020), 448 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):*****
Avainsanoja:audiobook

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The City We Became (tekijä: N. K. Jemisin)

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 67) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
When I started reading this book I had a few moments of sideways déja vu. Jemison’s story begins as the unexpecting Manny becomes an embodied avatar of New York (followed shortly thereafter by manifestations of the other boroughs), and I was getting serious flashbacks to the beginning of Kate Griffin’s Matthew Swift series, wherein Matthew becomes a host to the Electric Blue Angels and then takes on the title of Midnight Mayor of London (with all its power and responsibilities). There are definitely themes that run throughout both books (treading similar conversations about a city’s power, its magical citizens, and having unexpected power and responsibility thrust upon the protagonists in defense of said City), but like the differences between the cities of New York and London, Jemisin’s book stands apart as its own citified entity. I absolutely loved Griffin’s take on manifesting magical London (as much as I love the city itself), so Jemison’s version of magical urbanity was like visiting and falling in love with the magic of a new and equally interesting city. This is only the first book in a planned trilogy, and it’s clear that the Cthulu-inspired antagonist isn’t nearly done yet, so I am very much looking forward to seeing where this story goes! ( )
  JaimieRiella | Nov 11, 2021 |
Ever since I read Neil Gaiman's [b:Neverwhere|14497|Neverwhere (London Below, #1)|Neil Gaiman|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1348747943l/14497._SX50_.jpg|16534] (*wheezes*) 15 years ago I have wished for something like it for New York City. N.K. Jemisin's The City We Became finally, finally scratches that itch.

I was so excited when I learned that Jemisin would be expanding her Tor.com Original short story "[b:The City Born Great|32076617|The City Born Great|N.K. Jemisin|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1497629412l/32076617._SY75_.jpg|74806871]" into a full-length book, and indeed, the story itself serves as the prologue to The City We Became. (The story is free on Tor.com and I highly recommend it!).

The setup is this: once a city becomes "great" enough--rich in history, culture, and story--it is "born" as a living entity in its own right. A human representative of the city is chosen to assist in the birth, and must use objects and ideas quintessential to that city to protect it from the mysterious beings that want to kill cities before they are born.** I laughed and grinned my way through the short story and prologue, appreciating all the NYC references. The final showdown in particular was thrilling and felt like home...but as the book opens, we learn that it took a lot out of our human incarnation, who vanishes.

[** Why it has taken NYC so long to be born compared to other cities mentioned is not addressed.]

As it turns out, the great Enemy of the urban has grown a lot stronger since the last city was born and it's fighting New York City with everything it's got: gentrification, chain stores, self-serving philanthropy, ultra-conservatives, and a whole lotta squiggly semi-transparent tentacles. One manifestation of a city can't do it alone, so embodiments of each of the five boroughs must step up to the plate to figure out what's going on and fight off the forces that want to destroy the city. And they're all glorious, and made me want to explore all the boroughs even more than I have.


There's Manny, fresh off the train in search of a new life on Manhattan; Brooklyn, a former DJ turned politician who still has music in her veins and contacts in every borough; Bronca, director of an art center and gallery in the Bronx whose roots in activism and the city run (very) deep; Padmini, the queen of math, an immigrant and grad student whose family's hopes rest on her success; and Aislyn, whose father has taught her to fear the city on the other side of the Staten Island ferry. There are also fantastic side characters who can see what's going on even when it's invisible to most New Yorkers: an antique taxi driver, an erstwhile roommate, a plucky Jersey girl, and the manifestations of two other cities trying to help control the chaos.


The diversity is thick and rich and gorgeous, and Jemisin goes to great lengths in this book to be respectful of the communities she writes about. Her writing style includes quite a bit of social commentary—you might call it “politically correct” or “woke”, and if that’s going to offend you, you’re better off reading something else. Most of it just rolls with the NYC references and action, and I loved that commenting on others’ disrespectful language was actually built into Bronca’s character, given her lifelong history of activism and advocacy.

You can probably tell that I'm incredibly enthusiastic about this book. N.K. Jemisin is a three-time Hugo Award-winning author and it shows in how much I enjoyed The City We Became despite what felt, to me, like some missteps: a lot of sometimes-repetitive info dumps and action-disrupting description (but all so well-written that I dragged my forward-skimming eyes back to do their job); a hidden location that I guessed pretty much as soon as the mystery was introduced; and a Queens who felt flat compared to the other boroughs and seemed to disappear into the background. (Full disclosure: I live in Queens, so I am biased.) But I loved Bronca so much that it was hard to begrudge her what felt like a slight lion's share of the narrative; heck, I'd read a whole book with her as the protagonist.

I'll make two other nit-picks before I call it a day:

The Williamsburg bridge gets destroyed in the opening battle, and this fact does get mentioned occasionally throughout the book, but the way it’s treated—as kind of a curious happening, worthy of note in passing but not much else—is just so oddly detached compared to how NYC reacts to even U.N. meetings: FDR drive isn’t shut down, traffic isn’t diverted, and Brooklyn the politician from Brooklyn isn’t being hounded by advisors and constituents because a major artery into the borough is completely gone. The detachment just seemed a bit odd to me.

I’ll preface my second nit-pick by saying, with the benefit of (almost entirely) pure ignorance, that Staten Island gets very, very short shrift in here. There are a couple hints of the fact that SI isn’t all as white and conservative as its manifestation is, but the overall impression is that it’s an awful, close-minded, paranoid place. I guess I just felt bad that the other four boroughs had mostly good things said about them even despite their downsides but then the only real positive given about Staten Island was that it has actual trees and even farms. SI’s manifestation, Aislyn, seemed almost comically disgusted by anyone different from her. Or rather, not comically—because I have a bad feeling an attitude that seems ridiculously over the top to me probably exists in more people than even my pessimistic self wants to imagine.

Anyway, none of that is my second nitpick, which is best demonstrated with an example: Aislyn’s dad, a police officer, says that he figured a Puerto Rican man sitting and listening to New Age music in his car must be a drug dealer waiting for a sale. When the man protests that he’s just relaxing, the cop arrests him for an entirely invented assault. But the arrest requires paperwork. And then, “[Aislyn’s dad] sighs, as if the Puerto Rican man sat around New Aging while brown just to make him late for dinner” (p. 95). The chapters are largely written from the point of view of the given borough’s manifestation, which makes it sound like Aislyn is the one thinking that sentence…and it just seems a little too Jemisin (or Bronca or Brooklyn) to be coming from Aislyn. There were a few other spots like this in Aislyn’s chapters and each one threw me out of the reading grove when I hit them.


Now, you may have noticed that despite everything I loved about The City We Became, I’m giving this book four stars instead of five. That’s because this is the FIRST in a SERIES. NOTHING on the book indicates this! You have to open to the title page to see “The Great Cities Trilogy: Book One” and in my eagerness to read this book, I did not do that. Curse you, whoever made that design/metadata decision! Curse you doubly because your foul trick worked and made me buy a book I wouldn’t have bought if I’d known it was in a series and I would have returned it if I hadn’t waited over a month since I got it to read it! ARGH!

Anyway, the plot resolves just enough for the book to stand on its own if you can cope without a totally satisfying ending. The twist that allows The City We Became to reach any kind of conclusion seems a bit of a stretch for New York City--though I’m very willing to concede that is probably my personal experience giving this impression--and we don’t actually get a full resolution. Worst of all, there isn’t even an entry on Goodreads for book #2 (eager readers are notorious for setting up records prematurely), so who knows when it’s going to come out. Since it’s not ready for me right now, I’ll probably never get to it, since that is the way of me and novel series these days: finish all at once, or read one and never another.

Quote/Thought Roundup

p. 26) There’s a kind of surreality to the moment as he finally realizes he’s having this blackout or delusion or whatever it is in the middle of a crowd of thousands. No one seems to notice, except these three people [who are taking care of him]. He feels alone in the city. He is seen and cared for in the city. The contrast is going to take some getting used to.
I have felt this. New Yorkers are notorious for looking the other way from and ignoring things that make them uncomfortable, but I have also had some incredibly caring people help me when I really needed it.

p. 136) They swap the N for the 7 at Queensboro Plaza. … [Later] they get off and head aboveground.
Um…the 7 doesn’t go underground in Queens between Queensboro Plaza and Flushing. If they’re headed to Jackson Heights it should have been the R, M, F, or E, or else they'd have been heading down to street level from the 7. Jemisin isn’t the only one whose Queens subway geography has seemed off to me. In [b:Something New|22694572|Something New Tales from a Makeshift Bride|Lucy Knisley|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1443874935l/22694572._SX50_.jpg|42207666], Lucy Knisley mentions being on a subway going over a river to Queens…but all the trains from midtown go under the river. In her case, I did wonder if maybe she’d taken the train from Brooklyn, because the Q goes over the East River on the Manhattan Bridge. Anyway, I’ll shut up.

p. 170) “Jesus, B. So, I mean, that’s awesome that, uh, you’re a city? Congratulations! I want to be accepting of this new stage in your identity formation.”
This made me chuckle. Definitely felt both the love and the humor in it.

p. 261) “You okay?”
“Well, I mean, just the sight of something awful and incomprehensible isn’t going to send me off frothing at the mouth. … I’m from Jersey.”
Just realized both those quotes were from the same person. And she’s fantastic, by the way.

p. 357) “The land here hasn’t been healthy for a hundred years, but this is a new sickness. … They’re destroying everything that makes New York what it is, replacing it with generic bullshit.”
I feel yah there. I’ve gotten to see a bunch of crap moving into our neighborhood in the last ten years: Starbucks, Bareburger, UPS, Pelican Chicken, Chipotle, Taco Bell, TJ Maxx, freakin’ IHOP, and now a Target. I dread whatever’s coming next.

p. 385) Time is running out and our heroes must race the length of Manhattan despite all the squiggly tentacles everywhere. How are they going to do it?
“I’m gonna drive like a motherf***ing New Yorker, is what I’m going to do.” And then she cuts off a truck and accelerates to fifty.
Note for non-New Yorkers: the speed limit on Manhattan is 25. ( )
  books-n-pickles | Oct 29, 2021 |
This novel is a great example of urban fantasy. It's not just fantasy in an urban setting but a story that celebrates and explores the different facets of a city. It has been nominated for the 2021 Hugo Best Novel award and is a strong contender. I'm eager to see how Jemisin will continue this series. ( )
  mathgirl40 | Oct 3, 2021 |
My heart is full. This was what I hoped American Gods would be. Still the last part didn't feel fully fleshed out. A bit too short for an climax. So 4.5rounded down. ( )
  Jonesy_now | Sep 24, 2021 |
This is a lovely homage to New York City. The opening volume of a planned trilogy introduces the concept that cities can come alive with the assistance of a human avatar/soul. Typically, there is one such person per city being birthed, but New York City has six (primary plus one for each borough), each of whom is brought to life by Jemisin's lyrical prose. They're ethnically and sexually diverse, each with an attitude that is the embodiment of the overall image fitting their home borough. And each of them is unaware of their destiny until the moment New York City comes to life. But a creature from another universe, an old enemy of living cities, is working hard to destroy the city before it can finish the process.

There are a couple of details that seemed off to me re: New York City, but mostly, Jemisin captured the city, with all its faults and wonderfulness. I like quirky books, the ones that straddle genres and/or explore new concept, or simply ones that defy description and confound expectations. I don't read much fantasy, but I'm looking forward to the rest of this trilogy. ( )
  ShellyS | Sep 17, 2021 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 67) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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» Lisää muita tekijöitä (1 mahdollinen)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
N. K. Jemisinensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
ArcangelKansikuvataiteilijamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Miles, RobinKertojamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Panepinto, LaurenCover designer, mapmakermuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu

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I sing the city.

Fucking city. I stand on the rooftop of a building I don't live in and spread my arms and tighten my middle and yell nonsense ululations at the construction site that blocks my view. I'm really singing to the cityscape beyond. The city'll figure it out.
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"Five New Yorkers must come together in order to save their city from destruction in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin. Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She's got six. When a young man crosses the bridge into New York City, something changes. He doesn't remember who he is, where he's from, or even his own name. But he can feel the pulse of the city, can see its history, can access its magic. And he's not the only one. All across the boroughs, strange things are happening. Something is threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all"--

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