A titan amongst modern sci-fi authors, N. K. Jemisin channels Lovecraft with “The City We Became,” the first book in a trilogy concerning a hideous, tentacled, savagely humorous creature out to destroy the Big Apple. Five New Yorkers find themselves as avatars of different boroughs of New York, and are thrust into chaotic discovery and battle, none of them clear on why they are chosen or what they are capable of. The author masterfully embraces the diverse set of heroes, each so different, each brimming with modern challenges drawn straight from this week’s headlines. The complex plot rockets along, sometimes perhaps lacking a fully laid out storyline, and the creature-versus-kinda-superhero battles pulse with virtuosity. I felt the middle section sagged under the weight of too much world-building baggage, but the ending was solid and promises a dramatic second book. Unusual and arresting.