Review: The City We Became

Author: N. K. Jemisin
Genre: Urban fantasy

If you took Neil Gaiman, distilled him into a liquid, boiled that liquid down until it was pure refined Gaiminum, and then turned that into a book that is well written yet somehow still stumblingly awkward on occasion, you’d have The City We Became.

For this book Jemisin does a hard switch from her trademark “High Fantasy but Black People Exist,” to “Urban Fantasy but Also Black People Still Exist.” The premise is incredible, and the fantasy elements really worked for me. Every part of her magic system made sense to me somehow, despite its squishiness. God, writing this I’m revisiting just how _cool_ the world was. Once I fully understood how the world works, I was convinced this was going to be my favorite book this year.

But…Jemisin fumbles it a tiny bit. Her signature “relatable but sort of unlikable” characters are still there, but the ensemble is so large and there is so much going on that most of them fall a little flat. At times the dialog gets a bit stilted. I was a bit disappointed, since I _know_ Jemisin can do better.

Even with those roadblocks the premise was enough to rocket me through the book, genuinely delighted by how much trust Jemisin was willing to place in me to fill in the gaps of how her world worked. It’s the first in a trilogy, so fingers crossed she irons out the wrinkles going forward.

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