New York City has been born as a great city of the world and she has chosen her avatar. This happens from time to time as enough people and ideas coalesce in one spot. It happened to Rio de Janerio, to Hong Kong, to London, and many more. And now it’s happening to New York. Except this time, one single person is not embodying the entire city like has always been the case. Instead there is an additional avatar for each of the five boroughs as well as for the entire city. These five embodiments of their boroughs must band together to figure out what’s going on with them and find and protect New York from the extra-dimensional monster that seeks to destroy the city before it can fully come alive. They each have their own skills and weaknesses based on the borough they represent, but can they put aside their differences enough to keep New York alive?
Through and through, this novel is a love letter to New York City. It was written by someone who has lived in New York long enough to know the ins and outs, to love what make the city so spectacular, and to accept the less than ideal parts of the city. Jemisin does not write with rose-tinted glasses. And she writes in this way for both the city and the characters that embody each of the boroughs. They are each uniquely wonderful and flawed in their own ways.
Jemisin has a knack for taking things that are wholly out of this world and so bizarre to our understanding and explains them just enough. I can make sense of what is happening but there’s still a little mystery. I felt the same way reading this as I did with The Fifth Season. I can’t imagine that I would understand what it fully be like for a human to expand to gargantuan size in alternate dimension still tied to our own, yet Jemisin gives me just enough to visualize and marvel at the possibility.