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The City We Became

(Great Cities #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  35,021 ratings  ·  6,498 reviews
Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city.

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 an
Hardcover, 437 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by Orbit
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Kathryn Fulton I know this one! I've only known the one AZZ-lin; most Aislyns that I've known (in the Irish dance world) are AYZZ-lin. The actual Irish pronunciation…moreI know this one! I've only known the one AZZ-lin; most Aislyns that I've known (in the Irish dance world) are AYZZ-lin. The actual Irish pronunciation is ASH-lin.(less)

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Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  35,021 ratings  ·  6,498 reviews

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Victoria Schwab
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit, this book was so weird, and so good.
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
literally amazing
chai ♡
find this review & others on my blog

New York might be born in the world only to be shown right out of it.

Early in “The City We Became”, New York’s human avatar, a young queer Black man living in the streets, tries to salvage the City, to hold the breaking jar, keep his fingers over the cracks, but a battle with the Enemy—who sent forth the police as its harbingers—had worn him to little more than edges. He is weak and unsteady as moonlight on water, and the City was a candle that might b
2021 (written after the shine wore off): It’s disappointing when on the second read the shine wears off. Leave your darlings alone, I guess?

I love Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy with fiery passion that held up on rereads. But this one should have remained a single frenetic read last year (when grappling with pneumonia and burning with fever) because a slower, more focused revisit was a different experience.
“Well, now we know what her super-special power is, I guess: magic xenophobia.”

What Je
Nilufer Ozmekik
Apr 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Oh no! I think this review will earn me so much glances, hater looks, curses and a unique place in the minority because when you get one of your favorite authors’ book into your hands, you get excited, hardly slow down your heart rate and want to devour it at few bites! You truly expect more and deserve more because you know what the author is capable of and how unique talent she is. So this is first for me giving three stars to one of my most anticipated reads of the year. Stop booing me or thr ...more
Surprisingly underwhelming for me. Admittedly, I'm not a huge new-adult fan, and this has 'coming-of-age' plot line all over. I was also surprised that there was a strong Lovecraftian vibe going on here--add this to the growing body of work subverting Lovecraft's (white) universe. So perhaps there were a couple flavors that were not intriguing to my reading preferences. On the other side, I like N.K. Jemisin, and one of her books is in my top twenty list. I'm also fond of NYC in its many varieti ...more
S.A. Chakraborty
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt, one of the most brilliant books I have ever had the honor of reading. A brilliant homage to New York City, packed with all its love and harshness, and so incredibly inventive that I felt my own imagination and the boundaries of what fantasy can be expand.
Alix Harrow
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I want you to understand that you're not ready for this book. Even if you've read Jemisin's other work, even if you've read The City Born Great, which is the starting place for this book (

You're not ready for the fun and pop of it, the rhythm and beat. You're not ready for the wit and weight of it, the subversions that are both subtext and said out-loud. You're not ready for the cleanness and cleverness of the prose, the daring of it, the way the whole t
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Nope. On to the next. Don’t ask me! Sometimes I love her books and sometimes I don’t 🤔🤨

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Rebecca Roanhorse
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully inventive love letter to New York City that spans the multiverse. A big middle finger to Lovercraft with a lot of heart, creativity, smarts and humor. A timely and audacious allegorical tale for our times. This book is all these things and more.

The story started a bit slow as our team assembles, but once our heroes are together (or as together as they're gonna be), it was a blast - sharp and insightful but also just fun. There are definitely some creepy and disturbing moments, and
Apr 02, 2020 marked it as dnf
Shelves: 2020, urban-fantasy, ppb
Tragically, not one thing about this novel is holding my attention. You also have to be very open to social justice issues (the issues I whole heartedly support in real life) being bluntly jack hammered into the narrative, something that was never present in Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy, where the author’s political and social commentary was woven into a tremendously interesting fantasy story with nuance and measure. Jemisin’s ability to show rather than tell disappeared somewhere in the proce ...more
Claudia ✨
“Come, then, City That Never Sleeps. Let me show you what lurks in the empty spaces where nightmares dare not tread.”

When I first read The Fifth Season, it was like taking a cold shower - almost like waking up, since I had no idea that you could actually write like that. But N.K. Jemisin doesn't play by the rules; instead she creates her own, stomping all over both genres and everything binary to create something amazing that is purely hers. I love it, and I love her. That's why it broke my hea
Anne Bogel
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of my favorite books of the year, and I'm grateful this is the first installment of a planned trilogy. How soon till I can read book 2?

Every city has a soul, and the great cities of civilization—like Rome, Athens, São Paolo—finally reach a point when they come to life. Now it’s New York’s time to be born, but the city itself is too weakened by a gruesome attack to complete the process. If New York is to live, five people—or, more precisely,
five avatars, one for each of the city’s bor
Many things die so that something else can live. Since we’re the ones who get to live, we should offer thanks to those worlds for contributing themselves to our survival—and we owe it to them, as well as our own world’s people, to struggle as hard as we can.
This has been referred to before as an homage to New York and a call to arms. It is a genre bending amalgamation of storytelling. Part Lovecraftian horror, part speculative fiction, part inter-dimensional superhero sci-fi, part fa
Robin Brown
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
The positives:-

Says some interesting things about race and inclusivity both in general life and within the Sci-Fi genre. There is a fair amount of intertextuality with the work of H.P Lovecraft, as well as repeated criticisms of his world view. Lovecraft is a pillar of the genre, despite his now widely publicised racism, anti-semitism and homophobia. He remains hugely popular so it’s good to see a big name name in contemporary sci-fi confront him like this.

The negatives:-

The writing is patchy; v
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Coming back to Jemisin, my expectations are extraordinarily high. After reading the short fiction that this novel was based on, it made me wonder and scheme and imagine where it would go.

I mean, hey! This is all about human avatars being created out of a City, FOR the City's own protection and soul! It's like crossing American Gods with a NY monster movie with the SOUL of xenophobia (or any other kind of prejudice).

Coming into this, however, I should recommend that you manage your expectations.
This is a wild ride, and reading it I felt the exhilaration of watching the incredibly talented N.K. Jemisin riff on many tropes of popular speculative entertainment in increasingly fun ways. Tropes surrounding the superhero origin story, the diverse fellowship of strangers joining together to defeat an Enemy story, the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft, and stereotypes of what New Yorkers are like; Jemisin filters them all through her abundantly humane, fiercely progressive, and joyfully propulsive p ...more
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2021
I have never been to New York (although it is definitely on my bucket list) but after reading this book I feel as though I know the city well. Jemisin has a wonderful way with words and she makes you feel the energy and excitement of the place, as well as providing vivid descriptions of the settings.

I loved her characters too. Each one represents a part of the city and has characteristics in keeping with their chosen home – and - I can’t think what to write next without going into Spoilerland.
Meagan ✊🏼 Blacklivesmatter ✊🏼Blacktranslivesmatter
3/27/20 I am reading 3 other books right now and I tried desperately to finish at least one before starting this, BUT FUCK IT. I am starting this tonight! :)
3/24/20 did I say I didn't like this cover?? Because now that I have it in my hands, I fucking love it! It's giving me all the 90's vibes! Ah I can't wait to start! I can't believe release day is finally here!
2/15/20 so close to the release date now! Can't wait!!!! 🥰🥰
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
I want to start by saying that I've read all of Jemisin's novels to date, and have enjoyed all of them thoroughly! They are vibrant, dynamic, fascinating and fresh. This applies to The Killing Moon duology, as much as it does to The Broken Earth Trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky. I've been a huge fan for years, and I think the author is truly one of the most innovative voices in the new generation of fantasy fiction.
Unfortunately, I can't say much of this applies to this
Zitong Ren
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
The City We Became is N.K Jemisin’s newest book and it is the first novel in the Great Cities series and overall, it’s a pretty solid start. I had a good time reading it, and while I didn’t love it, it’s pretty solid fantasy, with an almost creepy and mysterious vibe to that was cool. There are a lot of primary characters and for a book that’s four hundred pages(which is not very for fantasy), it tried to accomplish a lot all while introducing the reader to a pretty interesting concept.

All of t
Laurie Anderson
Absolutely brilliant. Read it twice for the sheer joy of it.
Plamen Nenchev
Apr 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
If you picked this up because you liked Inheritance and The Broken Earth, check your expectations at the door: The City We Became is nothing like them. And while saying that this book has rubbed me the wrong way is an understatement, this is hardly motivated by subjective reasons alone:

IDEA: Call me simple, but I like my stories human, my characters relatable, my conflict engaging. Cities that are ‘midwifed’ through song and afterwards battle Lovecraftian monsters through human avatars? How can
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this because it was included in the Tournament of Books' Camp ToB 2020 (you can see the final discussion on their website.) I like N.K. Jemisin but I don't always read past the first book of her series, and I think a closer examination of my feelings of this book help explain why.

In the book, people are transformed into different boroughs of New York City (one person per borough,) because the city is under attack. Some stereotypes are at play in those sections but it's fun as each person
Not quite as masterpiece like the Broken Earth trilogy. It might also be the wokest novel I ever read. It is even woker than The Future of Another Timeline since it does not only touch the gender issues, but also race and identities. Considering the political climate nowadays in the US, readers will have no problem to immerse themselves inside the world.

Speaking of the world building, at first I wish I had been to New York before I read this book. Sure, it is probably the most famous city in th
Allison Hurd
Don't read if you are preparing to read for SFFBC and want to go in without outside opinions!

(view spoiler)
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physical-owned
Whew, can we just appreciate the talent that is NK Jemisin? The writing in this is so specific to her style & is honestly the star of the show here. I think the metaphors, while incredibly apt, where *slightly* too spelled out on the page for my tastes, but other than that... yeah. This is just a super solid piece of speculative fiction that is shockingly relevant for everything that has been going on this year. Don't over think this one-- if the description appeals to you & you like a strong wr ...more
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. This was so weird and cool and I loved every second.
Words! I don't know her! I can't describe her! All I know is that my hands are still shaking even though it's been almost two weeks since I finished this book. My body still feels jittery. My skin still feels tingly. This book reached out from within its bindings and dipped into my soul, clutching its fists around my heart. It hasn't let go since. I am in awe. I am amazed. I am shaken! How on earth is this the first N.K. Jemisin book I'm reading?!!! What on earth happened to me that I went this ...more
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Such a fun and light read! In The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin writes about a fantasy world in which when a city reaches a certain population or status, it receives a “soul” as embodied in a human form. Thus, we follow five humans who each personify a borough of New York City: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island. We learn early on that they face a dangerous enemy bent on destroying their city – both each individual borough and all of their respective inhabitants. While it l ...more
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N. K. Jemisin lives and works in New York City.

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