Book review- The City We Became by N K Jesmin

The City of New York takes centre stage in this urban fantasy.Here is my review of The City We Became by NK Jesmin.

Series The Great Cities Trilogy

Genre :Urban Fantasy

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

Review

The idea of a city coming to life  is urban fantasy in it’s most literal sense and is  really well described and vivid with language that grabbed me from the start. The book is told from the viewpoints of the ‘boroughs’ of New York, most of these characters are diverse in their race, sexuality and in age. Bronca is an older woman, a grandmother and a general badass. Brooklyn is the mother of a teenager and former rapper but motherhood is not the only feature that defines her.Brooklyn and Bronca are the reasons, I kept reading this book-it is rare to read about women of a certain age in fantasy,

This was an interesting and novel concept, with engaging characters in an unusual urban fantasy, but full of real-life problems that made this really hard for me to get through- I read fantasy for escapism from real-world problems. I finished the book but it was really hard work to get to the end and has put me off visiting New York as a result.

I couldn’t get into the book. It was a hard slog to get to the end and I suspect if I hadn’t treated myself to a hardback copy, I may have given up. I found it hard to warm up to many of the main characters especially Staten Island. I bought the book after reading a chapter in another book as I liked the energy of that character ( the avatar of New York)  but he only appeared in the first and final chapter.

Content warning

Use of racist and anti-Semitic language (considerable), misogyny.

Perfect for Fans

American Gods by Neil Gaiman, The city and the City by China Mieville

This was an amazing concept, a range of diverse characters and a great climax but far too grounded in reality for me but others will no doubt love this book for those reasons.