Part of Jemisin’s genius is rooted in her ability to come up with fantastically inventive premises that, while unthinkable before her writing, feel intuitive once read, to the point that one is baffled that nobody came up with them before ... After introducing us to each character in engrossing and vivid set pieces, the bulk of the novel is dedicated to the team tackling parallel crises ... filled to the brim of fantastically clever details that infuse focused political points with wild imagination ... At times, though, it’s exactly the neatness and wit of the premise that trip up the book ... The novel is at its best when the conflicts facing each borough’s avatar feel as human as they do symbolic ... While the larger metaphors...are clear, the narrative is gripping, not just because of the systemic catastrophes the “Alt Artistes” of Jemisin’s fantasy (because of course they call themselves the Alt Artistes) represent, but also because of the specificity with which Jemisin literalizes that system ... Jemisin’s brilliant allegorical premise lands with an uncanny prescience.
The City We Became...is, in a way, a metaphor for Jemisin's success, through her incredible body of work, at redefining the science fiction and fantasy genre—a genre that has long been defined by the tastes and stories of mostly white men. The monstrous forces that threaten the living New York City parallel the forces authors like Jemisin and her contemporaries have fought against for years ... My only real issue with the book is that it comes to a relatively abrupt end. I want to binge on the entire series right now, which is the ultimate magic and allure of Jemisin's work. She pulls you into her world and makes you want more; she makes you want to stay there forever ... [the book] is...a celebration and an expression of hope and belief that a city and its people can and will stand up to darkness, will stand up to fear, and will, when called to, stand up for each other.
... a reclaiming of the New York that Lovecraft vilified. In perhaps the greatest fuck-you to the man behind the Cthulhu mythos that has had such widespread influence on speculative fiction, Jemisin gives voice and human-ness to the objects of Lovecraft’s hatred ... one of the most stunning features of this book is its positioning of capital waging war against the human beings of a place as a sort of Cthulhu ... Nobody-makes-fun-of-my-family-but-me energy thrums through the novel ... readers are shown a New York beyond the tunnels and bridges and roads named after men who no longer exist. [Jemisin] shows a New York, not of unmade communities, but of remade ones, the scar tissue stronger than unbroken skin.