Review – The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

I’ve had N. K. Jemisin on my TBR for a while. The synopsis to The City We Became intrigued my so much it made it onto my most anticipated reads for 2020. When I saw it on NetGalley I actually waited longer than I normally do to let the targeted democratic request it first. But then I couldn’t stop myself and requested it. I have no regrets! I loved this book!

This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley and Orbit in return for an honest review. Thank you!

The City We Became

by N. K. Jemisin

Synopsis by NetGalley

‘A glorious fantasy, set in that most imaginary of cities, New York’ Neil Gaiman on THE CITY WE BECAME

‘The most celebrated science fiction and fantasy writer of her generation… Jemisin seems able to do just about everything’

‘Jemisin is now a pillar of speculative fiction, breathtakingly imaginative and narratively bold’

Five New Yorkers must band together to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and New York Times 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.

‘The most critically acclaimed author in contemporary science fiction and fantasy’

‘N. K. Jemisin is a powerhouse of speculative fiction’

My Opinion


  • the first person is really funny on the verge of insanity
  • super original (to me)
  • the world


It’s funny from page one, not LOL but “giggles and smiles” funny… Also, the world and building of the world is super well done. The characters are so typical of their boroughs even though I’ve never been to New York I can tell who’s who, but it’s not stereotypical. The author mentions in her acknowledgements how much research was involved and it shows.

The Story

The story is all centred around the birth of New York. And I don’t mean how it was created or anything back in the day. It’s about New York becoming a different entity and being born from this earth as a separate being (or in this case 6 beings) at present. It’s interdimensional.

I can’t get over how original this story was to me.

The ending took me by surprise and I enjoyed reading something I hadn’t foreseen.

World Building

The world is amazing. Yes, we are present day. And yes we are in today’s/this realm. New York. But the author has taken something iconic (New York) and created characters from them. How Manhatten is all sleek and nasty but also caring – a newcomer to New York. How the Bronx is full of art and history and flare – born and raised there. The book turns New York into a living organism is such an amazing way.

If you don’t care about the synopsis, read the book for the world alone – it’s worth it!

Magic/Science System

It’s not genre-specific, and I like that a lot. There are no incantations or words. There are no formulas or equations (unless you are Queens). There are not artificial intelligence or space ships. There is a life force that is out of this world but at the same time belong to this world. It’s multidimensional and complex.


There are several characters and POVs. In total there were 5 main characters along with the helper and the villain. I rarely put the villain up here in the characters. I normally do it if the villain is hiding amongst the good characters but in this book, the villain was obvious from the start and they were always there. It made the villain more human even though they are not.

Manny – Manhattan – newly arrived in New York and Manhattan claims him. He is sleek, raw and fresh. He is black and I think he is from the middle of the US or somewhere (not sure, neither is he). I like him even though he can be rough.

Brooklyn – former MC and DJ now a single mother and politician. I have yet to form an opinion about her.

Aysland – Staten Island – a white woman who is having issues with leaving home and about anything foreign. Doesn’t help that her father makes her stay at home too and talks negatively about anyone who is not white… I felt sorry for her.

Paulo (Sao Paulo) – in New York to help, but he is always a step behind. We only get glimpses of him throughout the story, but funnily enough, he is always a bit disoriented – he’s in the wrong city

Bronca – the Bronx – Native American in origin and the eldest of the group. She runs an art centre in the Bronx and she is feisty. Bronca is probably my favourite character in this book.

Padmini – Queens – new to New York and tries to care for her family back home in Sri Lanka (? She speaks Tamil to I guess Sri Lanka). She is studying finance and thinks in equations and formulas. She loved maths and is really good at it too. She is super sweet and I liked her too.

New York – the 6th part of New York doesn’t have a name. He is the homeless one you meet in the beginning. I liked him. He is on the verge of insane and I love that. As if New York is a bit too much and the only way of coping is by total acceptance and just don’t question shit that goes down. In the beginning, I was confused about what gender this character was. I thought the character was female but then I got handed a male pronoun. By the end it all made sense 🙂


Yas Queen!


Great! Well done! As expected from an award-winning author 🙂


I am a new N. K. Jemesin fan!

I’ll be reading the Broken Earth Trilogy any minute now!

Read this book!

Have you read this? What did you think?

3 thoughts on “Review – The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

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