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REVIEW: The City we Became by N.K Jemisin

We begin our tale with the introduction of Manny. He is a grad student that is new to the city and has a past but does not remember it. We later find out that he is Manhattan, the embodiment of Manhattan at least. The human form of Manhattan. We find out throughout the novel that the embodiment of New York was too weak and needed help to defeat the evil that is incoming, so he split into the different sections of New York and that’s when Manny came alive. Manhattan is joined by Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island. Brooklyn is an African American woman who was once a rapper and now is a city councilwomen. Queens is an Indian math whiz that shocks herself when she realises who she is. Bronx is a tough Lenape woman who is queer and runs the Bronx art centre. Staten Island is a frightened Irish woman who doesn’t know what has hit her. Her life has been pretty insulated with her racist dad who is abusive to her mother so when she is hit with this realisation, she wants nothing to do with it.

The Enemy is an infectious life form that is otherworldly who wants to kill the city of New York. Guess who the enemy is going to see first? That of course would-be Staten Island. Staten Island whilst being afraid, puts her trust in the wrong person, the enemy, instead of the rest of new york. The Enemy appears in many forms such as the woman in white and Dr. White and the tendrils. Staten Island decides she wants nothing to do with this battle and finds the island moving away from the rest of new york both geographically and mentally. Instead, a new borough rises up, Jersey, taking in the form of Veneza, a woman who works for Bronx at the Bronx art centre who has been a long for the ride. There are arguments whether Jersey city is apart of New York but a borough needed to step up and Jersey was there for them. The gang must find the avatar of New York and wake him up from his coma so that he can join them together and defeat the Enemy.

This book as a concept is amazing and it follows through with it even in writing. N.K Jemisin really wrote a love letter to the city of New York. A city that has gone through turbulences must come together and to defeat the enemy and that’s what happens in real life or should do at least. Jemisin pretty much says, without each other, nothing in this city will run the way it should do and that joining together is a perfect way to make it happen.

4 out of 5 stars.


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