18 Sept 2020

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: THE CITY WE BECAME by N.K. Jemisin #SFFFridays

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays

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Author: N.K. Jemisin
Series: Great Cities #1
Source: Audiobook via Audible Daily Deal
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: March 24, 2020

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.

TLDR Review: This was an extremely well-produced audiobook and I highly recommend listening to it if you can! I thought that the beginning was really interesting and had a lot of really great elements too it, but the middle got a little too big to handle. It has really intricate characters and fantastic worldbuilding, but something was lost in the middle. But the 70% onward mark brought it all back together and the ending was fantastic! I can't wait to see where this story goes into the next book in the series.

This was a really interesting story and an even more interesting concept. I loved the idea of people being the embodiment of a city, or in this case that five people came together to be a full city with each representing a specific area. I have been to NYC and seen a bunch of the boroughs, so it was so interesting to see them come to life in a person, but not just in a token or stereotypical way. I enjoyed how we met each of the avatars, which is what these characters are called, and how they decided to work together. I loved the "found family" aspect to it and how they figured out how to best work together.

I loved the overlapping themes of social justice and how it is to be Black in America, especially as a woman. I also appreciated the youth perspective as well as feeling isolated or alienated because of a Zip Code. I think that this was a good story and one that was needed for the time. Do I think that some people will be turned off because of the way that Jemisin writes about being Black? Yes. Are they wrong? Also yes.

But the writing style in general isn't for everyone. Something I also struggled with when I read Jemisin's THE FIFTH SEASON was the writing style and getting into the character's mindset. With five perspectives, this was even more difficult for me. Everyone was unique and felt different - I didn't have an issue figuring out who was who - but I definitely didn't get into everyone's heads the same way. I felt that this lost it's way in the middle because of that but it did pick up again around 70% with the climax of this book.

I appreciated that instead of using the "city" as a character, the city was divided into characters. That made for such an interesting worldbuilding and made me appreciate the surrounding and setting that much more. Knowing that the city was the main catalyst for this, made it a really interesting way of viewing how the characters grew and developed. But I still wanted more - I think often using the backdrop of New York was an easy way of getting out of having some more difficult conversations or growth for the characters.

I am definitely excited to see where this goes next, how the characters become a full team, and what that means for their individuality since they need to be together to "be" New York. But this is definitely worth the read, especially if you love Jemisin's other works!

Have you read this one? Are you going to pick it up?

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