Aimlessly Going Forward

blog by Tomas Sedovic

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

book, review

5/5 star

The City We Became is a Lovecraftian antiracist (and therefore anti-Lovecraft) urban fantasy about the city of New York becoming alive.

The birthing process is never easy, but in this case it’s particularly fraught. The city’s main avatar is in deep recovery and five people awaken representing each of its boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.

They need to survive, learn what the hell is going on, meet and actually agree on doing what needs to be done. Learn to trust one another, cooperate, help each other.

Facing an onslaught of Lovecraftian horrors, but with a twist. Instead of using black as the colour of the otherworldly evil, it is white and with one exception, all the avatars are people of colour. People of different backgrounds, lives, priorities and sexuality. Far from being their ally, the police is controlled by the enemy and concepts such as gentrification will walk around, sporting tentacles.

The subtext is right there on the surface, but here, in this book, in this time, that feels right.

This is a love song to all the cities, well aware of their issues. And as best as someone who’s only observed its vibe through television and writing can judge, it offers a fantastic personification of the Greatest City In The World and all its contrasts.

The story goes places I didn’t expect, surprising me along the way. And even when I thought I had the final twist figured out — it showed me that I was right but also very (delightfully!!) wrong. The ending brought me tears of joy, shouting "yes yes YES!", pumping fists.

Easily my 2023 favourite.

This review was originally posted at Goodreads and imported here later on with next to no spell/grammar checking.

Screenshot and link to the website for the Dose Response game

Hi! I wrote a game! It's an open-world roguelike where you play an addict called Dose Response. You can get it on the game's website (pay what you want!), it's cross-platform, works in the browser and it's open source! If you give it a go, let me know how you liked it, please!