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Summary

Winner of Best Fantasy at the Audie Awards.

Winner of the BSFA Award for Best Novel.

Shortlisted for the Hugo Awards.

Nominated for the Nebula Awards.

Five New Yorkers must band together to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and New York Times best-selling author N. K. Jemisin.

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.

©2020 N. K. Jemisin (P)2020 Hachette Audio UK

Critic reviews

"A glorious fantasy, set in that most imaginary of cities, New York." (Neil Gaiman on The City We Became)

"The most celebrated science fiction and fantasy writer of her generation...Jemisin seems able to do just about everything." (New York Times)

"Jemisin is now a pillar of speculative fiction, breathtakingly imaginative and narratively bold." (Entertainment Weekly)

What listeners say about The City We Became

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Terrible accents

I was getting on ok with this book but then there was a character from London and the narrator did a terrible, terrible accent and I couldn’t stand it and had to return the book.

6 people found this helpful

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Atmospheric, original first book about NYC

I just sat and binged the last four chapters of this audiobook. That last chapter was something else; I could visualise the final scene so clearly.

Initially I loved the concept (and the narrator, apart from a cheesy British accent) but I wasn't 100% sold on the writing style - at times I was a little confused by what was going on (this could've been the medium). I'm so glad I stuck with it though because I really started to get invested in these characters and I was willing them through the storyline.

I also really enjoyed the scene setting in the audiobook - there were some really creepy moments, and I didn't realise there would be so many audio effects, which really brought the story alive. Also doesn't Robin Miles' accent in this just scream New York? That could just be me, I am in no way a New Yorker (and yet that didn't detract from the book).

There's a lot more to come, and I'm glad that the first book had a satisfying ending, whilst still leaving questions to answer in the rest of the trilogy.

Now, please tell me someone has drawn fanart of these wonderful characters to tide me over until book two? Without spoiling anything, that final epilogue of sorts really deserves a piece of artwork, if someone more talented than me wants to give it a go!

3 people found this helpful

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New Yorkers will love it. Others, not so much.

Unlike any other Jemisin book I've read to date, this one was a struggle. The major twists & reveals are few and far between, and they don't redeem the plot at large. I had very high hopes from this book, and sadly none of those were vindicated at the end if the read. Still, the prose is top notch, Robin Miles is very good, and some of the scenes transcend the general malaise that sinks this novel to just 3 stars. I'm sure many a Jemisin fan will enjoy this one, and many New Yorkers will adore it. But this stab at a "Great American Novel" - reduced to depict perhaps the country's greatest city and taken a not-often-enough weird trip through action, suspense and equal, skimpy measures of sci-fi and horror - robs Jemisin fans of what is perhaps her most distunguished forte: world building at a colossal scale.

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

I first read the book and then listened to Robin Miles' narration. I love the wonderful mix of accents, the vocal variety and mix of tempo and pace. It's a fantastic exploration of the rich source text.

1 person found this helpful

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Unusual and compelling

It took a little while for me to get into this audiobook though once I did it proved a wild ride. It’s Lovecraft inspired horror with a touch of wry humour.

Definitely recommended

1 person found this helpful

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Enjoyable and evocative. Superlative narration

I really enjoyed this book. So incredibly evocative of New York it made me want to book a holiday immediately. I imagine if you're a love of the place you would adore the book. It made me pine for one about my favourite city (Paris). The characters are well rounded, interesting (and pleasingly diverse). The story rattles along like a subway train, I suspect this is one I'll want to revisit in a few years too. Special mention for the OUTSTANDING narration, easily one of the best read audiobooks I've ever listened to.

1 person found this helpful

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Not for me

Thought I would love this story as heard fabulous things about the author, sadly the start was too slow and I kept losing interest throughout. I persevered and the ending picked things up but still didn’t love it. Will try something else by this author instead. Loved the audio narrator

1 person found this helpful

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Not sure.

I've never really enjoyed any urban fantasy but love N.K. Jemisin so thought I'd give it a whirl. Unfortunately not even the mighty NKJ could persuade me otherwise. I found the characters a little stereotypical but then that was kind of the point so I can't really criticize there. Dunno, I just found the lack of nuance in any of it a bit disatisfying.

Mostly a very good range of vocal characterisations but a couple that didn't work for me. Have to say though that Robin Miles managed to make the characters instantly identifyable which most of the female narrators I've listened to find tricky so she gets two thumbs up for that.

1 person found this helpful

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just excellent

I need more cities and their personhoods 🥺🥺🥺
it was just so incredibly good in every way

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Amazing story, can't wait for the next one!

Best N. K. Jemisin yet, what a ride, makes me want to go back to NYC, despite the interdemetional threats in this book!

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  • John
  • 04-05-22

A really cool concept but execution is lacking.

I loved her series so was pretty excited about this book and it was somewhat enjoyable but I really found quite a few points in the story very strange and overall confusing.

It was building up the tension and meandering for the whole book and then suddenly just deus ex and everything is good.

The Island character is really not believable at all (although I guess Trump supporters exist and I find this unbelievable as well).

The rest of the characters are barely any better.

I really don't like fiction where the ground rules are not set and then pretty much whenever there is a tight corner voila let's change the rules to fix the problem. I.e. give me an umbrella to play Don Quijote while riding a taxi...

The main issue really is lack of cohesion to the story, too many random things happening for practically no reason and the actual main plot points get very little "screen time".

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  • Nicola A.
  • 28-02-22

wonderful and amaizing!

This book is amazing I loved it so much! the story is incredible and well written and well narrated! Robin Miles does a great job and N.K. Jemisin has become one of my favorites! Will be looking what else she has! And the feeling of NY.. and it's people! loved it!

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  • Lassi*aL
  • 05-02-22

Challenging, slow, strange

Didn't make me care for New York.
Based on author's earlier work, I was expecting a novel concept. Book's got that all right. But the implementation isn't that great.

The book is so packed with today subcultaral references out which I'm only well infused Lovecraftian ones that I felt missing big chunks of the fascination from early on.

The audiobook performer is really professional but for me, in the whole, over does it and only amplifies my alienation. Great work still.

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  • Michael Flattery
  • 10-06-21

Brilliant, engaging and fun!

Eldritch horrors, interdimensional rap battles and a serious examination of manifestations of systemic opression both personal and abstract? What's not to love!

This book might seem terrifyingly prescient but it really is just a sign of how skilled Jemisin is at bringing worlds to life. This New York felt almost too real despite the surrealism and abstraction that overlays everything. Not a sappy love letter but something raw, honest and true from someone who nevertheless clearly loves the city a great deal.

The story fairly clips along. Despite having so much ground to cover it never feels like it's dragging. If anything it feels like it can be a little abrupt and could have used a little bit more room to breathe - particularly with one character (P.P.) - but as the first in the series it's not something that bothered me at all. There was maybe a little bit too much exposition but to paraphrase from the book "there's a lot of weird ****" and a sizable cast of POV characters with different perspectives, so it didn't grate.

Speaking of, the characters are great. For manifestations of archetypes they are very human with hopes and flaws and their own peculiarities. Some of the most fun superheroes I've ever had the pleasure to spend time with. Even when you want to give them a stern talking to. The prevalence of queer characters without their queerness being ancillary or all-consuming is wonderful to see as always.

And the performance by Robin Miles was amazing - as per usual. Though this audiobook does have some production elements (music, sound effects, voice manipulation) that are used sparingly but prominently. To me, it felt a little like listening to a really good one-woman radio play, but if that's not your jam then here's your warning. Should still read the book though, it's amazing.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-05-21

AMAZING

The narration, the writing, the characters the plot everything came to life (ha see what I did there?) I loved it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-08-20

10 out of 5 stars

Favourite read of 2020 by far! Dynamic and interesting and wonderfully performed! Highly recommend reading!

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  • Jorgo Kapow
  • 16-06-20

Intertextual extravaganza

This is one book out a small handful of others, that made me laugh out in sheer joy more than once. Highly highly recommended.