A Nebula Review: The City We Became, by N.K. Jemisin

A Review by Paige Downey

Holy sh*t! This book is AMAZING!! Let me just say that literally halfway through the prologue I messaged Jennifer that there was absolutely no way this book isn’t winning the Nebula Award, and it just kept getting better from there. I love you Network Effect, but The City We Became deserves this year’s Nebula.

So here’s the basic premise. Cities, once they reach a certain stage in their development, become alive and are manifested in an avatar of sorts. But there is something out there in the universe, in a parallel dimension really, that does not want this to happen and therefore tries to kill any cities during their “birth”. Our story opens as New York City is being born. It’s avatar fights off a pretty insane attack of this mysterious evil force, but something goes… a bit strange. The avatar more or less fragments.

You’ll need to read the book for more details on this one friends. But the split results in avatars for each borough emerging. The avatars represent what Jemisin sees as the true spirit of the borough. Now normally this would be the end of the poor city’s trauma, but this other side is getting craftier and is coming to kill the boroughs’ avatars. They have to find each other, band together, and somehow defend NYC from whatever the hell this other force is. 

The master herself

If you’ve listened to our episode on The Fifth Season, you’ll know that I think N.K. Jemisin is an amazing writer. She earned every Nebula Award she received for that series in my humble opinion. Honestly, I think that this book is even better. 

Also, I just really want to plug the audiobook for this one. This isn’t just someone reading the book to you. Hell, this isn’t even someone reading you the book with the appropriate accents. The audiobook comes with appropriate sound effects, making the thoughts of the characters sound like they are echoing, scenes involving bridges have sound effects that immediately make you think of bridges. It’s a whole experience. For most books I would say it probably doesn’t matter if you read the book or listen to the audiobook. But if you’re able to, I would recommend getting the audiobook over the book for this one. The writing is amazing so you won’t be disappointed either way, but damn does the production of the audiobook go the extra mile.

I give this book 15/10. My only disappointment is that I jumped on this series so early and now I have to wait WHO KNOWS HOW LONG FOR BOOK 2!!

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