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437 pages, Hardcover
First published March 24, 2020
“Come, then, City That Never Sleeps. Let me show you what lurks in the empty spaces where nightmares dare not tread.”
“This city will eat you alive, you know, if you let it. Don’t.”
“Well, now we know what her super-special power is, I guess: magic xenophobia.”
“So, I mean, it’s awesome that, uh, you’re a city? Congratulations! I want to be accepting of this new stage in your identity formation.”
“I have hated this city. I have loved this city. I will fight for this city until it won’t have me anymore. This is my homage to the city. Hope I got it right.”I always start a new book by a favorite writer with a bit of trepidation: Please be good, please stand up to the earlier ones, please deliver that satisfaction that you tend to feel after reading something that is solidly strong writing. With her ‘Broken Earth’ books N.K. Jemisin touched something in my soul that has never been the same since. She raised her own bar so dizzyingly high that I was afraid she would not be able to get there again.
~ N.K. Jemisin
“Manny’s been in New York for less than an hour and yet he knows, he knows, that cities are organic, dynamic systems. They are built to incorporate newness. But some new things become part of a city, helping it grow and strengthen—while some new things can tear it apart.”
“A city is never alone, not really—and this city seems less solitary than most. More like a family: many parts, frequently squabbling… but in the end, against enemies, they come together and protect one another. They must, or die.”
“My God, why are you attacking us?”
“Because I don’t know you,” [she] snaps, “and you were standing on my lawn.”
“The alternative is to challenge her own belief that the Woman in White isn’t so bad. This would force her to question her own judgment and biases and find them wanting. And given how hard she has fought lately to feel some kind of belief in herself, she is not ready to doubt again. So it’s fine. Everything is fine.”
“Discovering that one’s roommate is actively undergoing a break with reality is high on the scale of “things one wants to learn before signing the lease.”——————
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 fantasy— it is a vivid tapestry about New York becoming sentient to fight an unknown evil that preys on the most realistic parts of New York from historical times to present day.
Manhattan is perfectly positioned for Manny to stare at for most of the drive, and he does so greedily, fascinated despite the knowledge that he is staring at himself. He’s a little overwhelmed by all of it: the bright, startling order of the highway, even as half of its drivers seem determined to run their own private speed races. The high-rises that loom over or alongside the highway, and the fleeting vignette glimpses he gets into other people’s lives: a couple arguing in front of an ugly painting of a boat; a roomful of people, which must be a dinner party; an old man pointing a remote at a TV with both hands and yelling.For a story that’s so untraditional, it’s grounded in realism. You could almost question whether it’s possible. Whether maybe, just maybe, Jemisin has seen the light and we are finally getting an answer to life’s most common question. Why are we even here?
most of you just stay here, hating this city, hating everything, and taking it out on everybody... But then you meet somebody fine at the neighborhood block party, or you go out for Vietnamese pierogies or some other bizarre shit that you can’t get anywhere but in this dumb-ass city, or you go see an off-off-off-Broadway fringe festival play nobody else has seen, or you have a random encounter on the subway that becomes something so special and beautiful that you’ll tell your grandkids about it someday. And then you love it again. It glows off of you. Like a damn aura.” She shakes her head, smiling to herself a little wistfully. “I get on the train to go home every day, and sometimes I look around and see all these people glowing. Filled with the beauty of this city.At the core of it, this is a story about a group of people coming together to save a city from destruction. The Reluctant Prevengers. The SFF and Lovecraftian elements only served to make the story that much richer. I defy anyone to read this book and not be blown away by it. It may not have been perfect, sometimes getting caught up in its own intelligentsia. And the ending felt a bit rushed. Plus, there were actual math equations in this book. After what Calculus did to me in college, I never want to see equations in my escapism. Regardless, this book has firmly cemented me as a Jemisin fangirl. I can’t wait to see where this story becomes...