The City We Became – N.K. Jemisin

Evil Monster…


Humans that become superheroes in order to save the city…

This book gave me a serious Marvel Avengers vibe, but laced with serious issues of racism, classism and many other serious topics. As a huge Marvel fan, I’m pretty sure this makes me super biased when I say I LOVED this book.

I even tried to do a bit of research into when the next book will be coming out.

I need N.K. Jemisin to release it ASAP… before the end of this year would be amazing!

The City We Became Synopsis:

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. An 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.

Okay firstly, I have to emphasise this isn’t your typical fantasy novel. N.K. Jemisin took issues of racism and made it into a novel that explores just how dangerous white privilege can be to ethnic minorities. Through, the dangers of generic stereotypes and the history of New York, Jemisin sets the scene of a city with souls that come together to fight “The Woman in White”.

The supernatural attack of this villain within New York is a metaphor for bigotry, white nationalism and colonialism.

It’s a beautifully crafted novel to explore to reveal just how dangerous the racism pandemic is and it’s foundations are deep rooted within America.

A quote that I love and often to refer to is, “when you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

This is what we’re witnessing with racists. They’re used to the systematic society which give them the privilege to get further ahead in life. Equality would mean they would have to perhaps, work harder and compete at a much fairer advantage with everyone else.

One of the characters in the novel really made me think about why racists choose to live the life they do…

And I came to the conclusion that, a big part of it is that, they’re genuinely scared of change.

Fear makes people do crazy things.

I want to say I can understand. I can sympathise. I too have experienced fear.

But I can also put my hand on my heart and say, ‘Never will I ever treat an individual a certain way because I’m fearful of change.’

Whilst racism was interwoven into the novel, it gave me hope. Maybe, too much hope. It reminded me that eradicating racism isn’t an independent effort. It will take communities of all colours, genders, age and more to finally combat it. It’s the recognition that racism isn’t a Black community issue…it’s everyone’s issue.

It’s also not as simple as battling an evil monster. If one person still has a racist mind-set, the racism pandemic is still alive and kicking. All it takes is that one person convincing someone else or having a children and teaching them their racist ways and the racism pandemic begins again. Maybe not as serious but there’s a high risk of infection.

Regardless, this novel was a true ‘ode’ to New York City and its resilience to stand firm against the threat of hate that attempts to break down the diverse culture.

Jemisin thought about every borough within New York and what they’re most famous for. Manny (Manhattan) is a charming, ruthless black guy who manifests his magic power by throwing money around. Which is quite ironic for Manhattan, considering its wealth currently. There’s Bronca (The Bronx), a tough elderly native artist, who’s power is rooted in tradition and history. Brooklyn (Brooklyn) is a middle-aged black woman who used to be a rapper and uses music to fight the villain. Then there’s Padmini (Queens), an immigrant grad student, who loves maths and consequently, finds her strength in theoretical mathematics.

These boroughs were a real embodiment of the diversity within New York City. There’s power in diversity. There’s power in being different. Your differences make up who you are so for something to threaten that, it’s horrifying as it is frustrating.

Why does it matter so much if someone is different to you?

Really and truly, it shouldn’t.

Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Learning about people’s differences is an opportunity for you to grow and to become more knowledgable.

This mind-set allows ignorance to be eradicated.

And diversity to flourish.

3 thoughts on “The City We Became – N.K. Jemisin

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