One Long, Two Short: The City We Became, Remote Control, and The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

If you have been following me for any length of time, you will have noticed that most of the books I read, I get from the library.  (I think that at my daughter’s current rate of reading, we would be buying upwards of 500 books a year if we bought everything just the two of us read ourselves, and who can afford that? )  But here, dear readers, are three recently-read books by authors that I trust enough to buy them to be part of my personal home library.  

The City We Became
by N.K. Jemisin.

Orbit, 2020.

ISBN 978-0316509848. 

Read from purchased copy. 

New York City is awakening – and as it does, one person from each of its boroughs can suddenly sense what is going on in their borough, the other avatars, and the struggling person who’s meant to unite New York City as a whole.  Manny, a soon-to-be graduate student of indeterminate ethnic origin, forgets his own name as his whole consciousness is filled with Manhattan.  Brooklyn is represented by a former hip-hop star turned politician, also named Brooklyn, while the Bronx is represented by Bronca, a Lenape art director.  In some, the instinct to find the others is strong, while others resent the other boroughs.  But even as they aren’t getting along with each other, New York himself is in danger, and an ever-shifting Woman in White is making her way around, leaving waving white tentacles in her wake.  Paulo – the avatar of Sao Paolo, the most recently awakened city – is there to help, but even he can only do so much…

I admit when I read this, after finishing her Inheritance trilogy, I was rather afraid that it would require more brain power and emotional strength than my pandemic-addled brain and heart have.  Happily, even though the stakes are great, I was able to keep track of all the characters and enjoy the epic struggle against Cthulu-woman.  When, oh when is the next book coming?

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor.

Tordotcom, 2021.

ISBN 978-1250772800.

Read from purchased copy. 

Once upon a time, a girl named Fatima in Ghana climbed a tree and read the messages in the stars.  When a mysterious box fell from the sky, she took it and cared for it in secret – until both the government and powerful international tech companies came looking for it, willing to do anything to get it.  In the explosive incident that follows its theft, leaving her family dead, the girl forgets her name and becomes Sankofa, the adopted daughter of death, feared by all as she wanders the earth following the pull of the box and tries to avoid using her powers.  This book combines a mythic feel with descriptions that bring Ghana to life.  It’s a short, sad and powerful reflection on the meaning of life, and who has or does not have power.  

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water
by Zen Cho. 

Tordotcom, 2020.

ISBN 978-1250269256.

Read from purchased copy.  

A too-handsome stranger walks into a coffeehouse and starts a brawl in his efforts to protect the waitress, obviously a nun by her shaven head, from a handsy patron.  As Fung Cheung, said stranger , is enjoying his martial prowess, his much less beautiful companion, Tet Sang, comes in to save the day. Drawing attention by starting fights and taking souvenir copies of one’s own wanted poster is exactly the opposite of what one should be doing when one is an “independent contractor.” Though they leave the town immediately to complete their current mission (multiple layers of smuggling), the nun, Guet Imm, follows them and begs to join them.  Her tokong has burned down, she’s been fired from her job, and she has nowhere else to go.  This innocent helpless front hides a stubborn character and the magical skills that come only from deep faith and long practice in the service of the Pure Moon.  

This is a short book set in a magical historical Malaysia that packs in an enormous amount of both character and world-building – even though our main point of view character is hiding a lot of secrets himself, things we only learn as Guet Imm figures them out.  It starts off with the feel of a classic wuxia movie, and while the action remains through the book,, the focus on faith, compromise, and survival in a world at war told through the eyes of characters left out of most stories even today makes it exceptional.  Also, lots of laugh-out-loud funny moments.  I’ve now bought two copies of this – one for my goddaughter and one for myself. And since I was slow getting to it, her new book, Black Water Daughter, is coming out later this month.   

About Katy K.

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
This entry was posted in Adult, Fantasy, Print, Sci-Fi and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to One Long, Two Short: The City We Became, Remote Control, and The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

  1. lydiaschoch says:

    I really liked Remote Control. Good reviews.

  2. Really looking forward to Black Water Daughter!

  3. Pingback: 2021 in Review – the Books | alibrarymama

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