Bingo 17: North America
This might be a little obvious but since The World We Make could actually fit several categories, I’m using for North America because it takes place largely in New York City, and most of the main characters are living avatars of the boroughs of NYC, as well as an avatar for the city overall.
The gist of the novel remains similar from the prequel (this is part 2 of a duology): the avatars of Manhattan (Manny), Queens (Padmini), Brooklyn (Brooklyn), Bronx (Bronca), Jersey City (Veneza), Staten Island (Aislyn), and NYC (Neek) are still contending with how to rid their world of the influence of the Enemy aka the Woman in White, avatar of R’lyeh. One of the big manifestations now is the mayoral election, and one of the main candidates is using the slogan “Make New York Great Again”; you can probably guess what he’s like (also, the name Panfilo as a sly allusion is much appreciated). Even Aislyn, who as Staten Island seems to get along better with the R’lyeh than the rest of the avatars, feels like there’s something wrong with what’s going on around her. The vigilante racial attack squads are here as is probably police (or are they ICE?) harassment of immigrants like Padmini.
There’s an author’s note in the back that points out that a lot of this novel was written during the pandemic and that she had to make some adjustments to her plans because as it turns out history kind of went that way she was planning to go (like a certain 2016 Presidential candidate and interference etc.); turns out this was originally going to be a trilogy, but is now done at volume two. I’m a little sad about that because this is the first series of the author’s that I’ve really been able to get into; I tried her other more fantasy leaning series, but that was DNF about 100 pages into the first novel. Just not my style or thing.
In spite of the clear allusions to some ugly realities in today’s US, there’s also a lot of hope; when Bel, the normal human roommate of the group, is ambushed for looking foreign, a bunch of local New Yorkers stand up for him. This sort of thing seems to happen a lot, until the final general confrontation which reveals who the main threat behind the visible might be. The final resolution is a little dumb, but the post-Boss fight scenes are still pretty good. Manny, who as it turns out has kept a pretty big secret, makes a decision about his future, and he an Neeks finally actually talk to each other about starting the relationship everyone knowns they both want (not spoilers, you see both of them thinking about it from the opening chapters) but can’t quite admit it for most of the book. The winner of the mayoral race and trying to get their boroughs back to normal affects most everyone else, so there’s a sense that everyone is finding where they’re really meant to be, and it’s not always where you’d guess. Really the only complaint I’ve got is that it feels a little like Bronca for some reason gets a lot less page time, and I don’t see why that it.