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All booksFantasyThe City We Became
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

The City We Became

by N.K. Jemisin

Quick take

The latest from N.K. Jemisin is both an epic fantasy adventure and an ode to New York City in all its imperfect glory.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_WellKnownAuthor

    Famous author

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Series

    First in series

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Magical


Why I love it

Chloe Gong
Author, These Violent Delights

I grew up in awe of New York City, dreaming of the day when I could see the hustle and bustle for myself. It’s the city that everyone writes songs and poems about, the epicenter of so much art and magic. When I heard about the premise of The City We Became, my first thought was, “New York coming alive? That makes more sense than anything else, that’s for sure.”

Just as five boroughs make up New York, five “avatars” of each borough construct the main cast of this book, each with their flaws and strengths. When an otherworldly threat rises in the city, fueling bigotry and destruction, Manny and Brooklyn come together to search for the avatar of Queens, otherwise known as Padmini “Math Queen” Prakash. Elsewhere, Bronca must protect The Bronx until the other avatars reach her, while Aislyn on Staten Island is lured in by The Enemy, the antagonistic cosmic entity intent on laying waste to New York.

There are some books with a setting so fully-realized that the city is a character itself, and The City We Became fulfills this in both the literal and metaphorical sense. New York is a throbbing, frantic force, one that desperately wants to survive. It is complicated, as are the avatars who represent every facet of it. And in this emerges the most fulfilling story of strength, integrity, and resistance—of laying claim to a city that will live until the very end, human enemies or cosmic eldritch forces be damned.

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In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn't remember who he is, where he's from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power.

In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it's as if the paint is literally calling to her.

In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels.

And they're not the only ones.

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.

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Get an early look from the first pages of The City We Became.

Member thoughts

All (1886)
All (1886)
Love (803)
Like (723)
Dislike (360)
1969 ratings
  • 41% Love
  • 37% Like
  • 18% Dislike
  • Grand Rapids, MI

    Join the characters as they wrestle with being themselves and a city. Adventure and prose interweave an intricate pulse of a city's identity. The imprint of power and magic stay with me months later

  • Ellicott City, MD

    Mindblown - loved this! Started it and it took a bit for my brain to adjust so restarted it and buckled down for a highly creative and wild ride. Loved it - cant wait for the second in the trilogy!

  • Pittsburgh, PA

    So smart and weird. While I have some issues with world building, really Mexico City isn't embodied? Or Edinburgh? Or Dublin? Or Buenos Aires? The book is riveting, well paced, funny and great.

  • Mount Rainier, MD

    A trippy love letter to NYC, honoring all of its beauty and flaws. Great writing and heavy symbolism; gentrification and the white-washing of cities being the enemy. A bit tedious in some parts.

  • Gorham, ME

    This book was NUTS! It is maybe one of the weirdest books I have ever read, and I could not put it down. You just need to be okay with the epically weird. So cool, can't wait for the next two.

  • Cincinnati , OH

    I loved this book. It was very creative, and I would say a mix of mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy. It took me longer than normal to finish, but gave me the time to think and savor the novel.

  • Laramie, WY

    Jemisin create a world as fantastic as all her others, this time hidden in plain sight. Love the interactions of the characters and their journeys to embracing their true identites.

  • Vineland, NJ

    I'm not normally a sci-fi/fantasy person but this story just grabbed me and didn't let go. Very American Gods in feel and honestly scope. I can't wait for the rest of the trilogy.

  • San Diego, CA

    This is a wild ride of a book! I don’t consider myself a fantasy or science fiction reader, but this one really pulled me in! All of the characters are great, and so diverse.

  • blawnox, PA

    It has been a while since I have sat and just STARED in shock at a book having the AUDACITY to be SO good. I am incredibly excited to see what the rest of this trilogy holds

  • Lawrenceville, NJ

    Couldn’t put it down! As a New Yorker I loved all the references but also how NK Jamisin captured so much of the ethos of NYC. It truly is a love letter to the city.

  • New York, NY

    A fascinating, funny look at New York City through the lens of Lovecraftian horror (with some hefty critiques of Lovecraft — and Staten Island — along the way).

  • Ararat, VA

    I loved all the characters and greatly enjoyed the backstories of each. The description of New York is so vivid and surreal that I wish I could go there.

  • Budd Lake, NJ

    So weird, so brash, this is definitely one of the more unique reads I've had. Horror-infused fantasy with lots to say about the state of our world.

  • Washington, DC

    This is one of the best books I read in 2020. NK Jemisin is a wizard with words & worldbuilding. I am so thrilled that BOTM is offering it here!!

  • Brooklyn, NY

    A love letter to New York City — especially beautiful for those of us who live here but still accessible and engaging for those who don’t.

  • Darlington, MD

    This book was amazing. Completely drawn in, complex story line and characters, really interesting concept. Can't wait for the second.

  • Denver , CO

    My first Jemison and I loved it. This was a high-concept sci fi book set in reality. The way New York was represented was fantastic.

  • Philadelphia , PA

    Harder to get into than some of her other books but really liked the direction the story went! Looking forward to the next book.

  • Forest, VA

    This book is so interesting. It was a little slow and dense at first but the more i think about this book the more i like it.

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