Review: The City We Became

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A love letter to New York meets Lovecraftian Horror and you get this book.

I believe this is probably one of those love or hate books with very little room in between. As someone who married into a NYC family, I was able to nod along with a lot of the narration in the book. I could see some of it going over the heads of people less familiar.

The narrative also tackles a lot of the racism and misogyny in the world right now. I could see some folks finding it a bit preachy. I was mostly just nodding along, but Jemisin’s narration wasn’t saying anything that I didn’t agree with on some level about what’s going on in the world and seems to be making it head in the wrong direction.

If I had to find fault in the book, it’s perhaps in the way that, at least at first blush, it seems to lay the blame for everything going wrong with NYC – gentrification, the loss of city businesses to national chains, etc – on a Lovecraftian entity. It slightly robs the human agency out of those things. That said, a more charitable reading would say that those things are going to happen anyway and the enemy is just latching on to it.

I listened to the audiobook and the narration was incredible. The narrator did a great job on different accents for all the boroughs and characters. There was some extra production – a few bits of sound effects here and there that enhanced the narration at key points. So, it wasn’t like the Graphic Audio books where sometimes the background and music is fighting with the narration. Here it was complimentary.

Overall, if you want to read a modern Lovecraftian Urban Fantasy, this is a really good book and a fantastic audiobook.

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