The City We Became
The City We Became spent several months sitting on my bookshelf unread. I was busy with university homework. Last semester every one of my professors was assigning work like we were only taking their class. With not enough hours in the day to get homework done, books went unread. I really wish I had gotten tot his book sooner. This book deserves all the stars. It has found it’s way onto my list of favourite books of all time. I am going to be hard pressed if I ever have to put those books in order.
First thing is first. The cover is amazing, For the full effect Google Lens needs to do it’s thing.
This isn’t the best video that has been captured showing the cover coming to life, but you get the idea.
The reason I picked up this book, is my cover says “Glorious. ~ Neil Gaiman” on it instead of “A Novel”. Neil Gaiman liked it so it has to be good! At least that was my thought train. Prior to this book I had no idea who N.K. Jemisin was, now I want to read all of her books. Gaiman is right, it is glorious. It is also so much more.
Books are usually either plot driven or character driven. Somehow, Jemisin managed to do both. The book opens up in the middle of the action and rarely comes up for air. At the hear of the story is human nature and what it means to belong, no matter who you are. The characters grow and change, and not always for the better. The characters aren’t perfect, and that is what makes them likeable
The City We Became throws the reader into the world of H.P. Lovecraft to bring a remarkable and unique book that tells a story of New York City and the people who make up it’s burrows. Five unlikely people from different walks of life have been chosen as the avatars of the five boroughs of New York: the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. They are tasked with finding each other and the avatar of New York City in order to protect it from an Eldritchian horror straight from out of the pages of Lovecraft as the city gains a soul. But it isn’t just about driving back the evil that threatens to eat the city, it is also about fighting the xenophobia and racism that are almost always found in modern societies and in the work of Lovecraft himself. Stereotypes are both reinforced and broken. Jemisin has held a mirror up to society and provided the reader with an insightful social commentary. All the reader has to do is listen.
This is also a story about betrayal. It serves as a reminder that those we count on may end up letting us down. Someone will step up though, and take their place and sometimes it’s not the person we are expecting.
One of the many things I love about this book is Jemisins writing style. One my favourite descriptions is “Generic all-American boy (nonwhite version).” It’s not really much of a description, but you know exactly what is meant by it. Quips like this are a breath of fresh air as they replace the wordy descriptions of many authors.
The book ends on a happy note with a cloud hanging over it, both literally and figuratively. There are supposed to be more books in this series and the ending does leave room for the saga to continue. I, for one, am waiting impatiently for the next book. The City We Became has set the bar unfairly high for other books.