Book Review (SERIES): The Great Cities

If you haven’t read something by N.K. Jemisin, you need to. She is one of the best fantasy writers of now, and you will be hearing her name for years to come.

The Great Cities Series by N.K. Jemisin

  1. The City We Became
  2. The World We Made

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In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn’t remember who he is, where he’s from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power.

In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it’s as if the paint is literally calling to her.

In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels.

And they’re not the only ones.

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


It’s books like this which make me glad I am part of a book club. I would have never stumbled across this incredible book otherwise. A mix of multi-dimensional physics; a love/hate/extreme emotion relationship with New York; differences in personalities based on age, upbringing, culture; with a solid narrative which will keep you turning pages.

Amazing characters, powers, and physics.


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All is not well in the city that never sleeps. Even though the avatars of New York City have temporarily managed to stop the Woman in White from invading—and destroying the entire universe in the process—the mysterious capital “E” Enemy has more subtle powers at her disposal. A new candidate for mayor wielding the populist rhetoric of gentrification, xenophobia, and “law and order” may have what it takes to change the very nature of New York itself and take it down from the inside.

In order to defeat him, and the Enemy who holds his purse strings, the avatars will have to join together with the other Great Cities of the world in order to bring her down for good and protect their world from complete destruction.


In “The World We Make”, readers return to the Great Cities universe where a Sword of Damocles, in the form of the Woman in White hovers over New York.

But the world has changed, not the written world of the Great Cities, but our world with COVID – which drastically changed the book and series. The author originally planned a trilogy, but *hand waving at the world* things changed making it a duology. Entire sections of the multiverse died stillborn as real world overtook planned plot.

Reading the first book, and having it be so relevant to life, one forgets what a March 2020 publication date means. The book likely was in the editing phases in June 2019, and the original concept came from “The City Born Great” way back in 2016. But March 2020 … that is when America acknowledged Covid was really, really a thing.

Jemisin wrote and edited the second book of the series as the world stumbled.

As a result two books got trimmed into one – excess story plot lines, deviations, and character development got slashed. The rambling 481 page first book is followed by a trim, fast read in a 369 page second book. I found the first book a slow read – pushing through it in a week, but finished the second book in less that 24 hours.

Is there more I want to know about this universe? Heck yes. Would I have liked a longer second book as much as the one this universe of the multiverse got? I don’t know.

A much faster, more traditional read than the first book, but still true to the universe.

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