I read Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy last year and loooooooved it, so when The City We Became showed up as the choice for a meetup group book club, I was excited enough to plan to attend and not just lurk. While I did like it, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did Broken Earth.
When a city has enough people, history, culture, and personality, it can come alive, with a person becoming the living avatar of that city. New York City has hit that tipping point, but has the interesting addition of the boroughs, so instead of one city representative, it gets six (each borough, plus an overall New York). These avatars have to figure out what the heck is happening to them (one day you’re a grad student, the next day you’re the living embodiment of Queens?!), find each other, and help NYC become alive. Of course, it’s not that easy, and there’s an Enemy that has been fighting the birth of new cities for centuries. Sao Paulo is on hand to serve as a guide, but the Enemy has grown stronger and changed tactics since he became a city, so everyone has a lot to learn.
As you’d expect from N.K. Jemisin, it’s beautifully written and wonderfully creative. Bronca (the Bronx) was my favorite character, but all the boroughs were interesting. The lack of five stars is a personal preference, not a problem with the book at all. I like my fantasy and sci-fi books to be escapism, and the ones with a real-world aspect are never my favorites. I don’t really go for urban fantasy. Like, I love China Mieville’s Bas-Lag series, but don’t really care about any of his books set in London. So while I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the book club discussion about it, I don’t know that I’ll finish the trilogy (unless future CBR reviews change my mind). But I do plan to read all Jemisin’s other fantasy stuff!