Just City is a story of 21-year-old Nathan who dreams about creating a cool start-up with his friend Jack. To get money for the start-up Nathan starts playing a virtual reality game as part of a scientific experiment. The game forces Nathan to discover what it is like to be in the skin of somebody else, for whom the cards have been dealt differently. The depressing experiences of playing the game make Nathan question his belief in meritocracy and pick a fight with Jack. What is just and what do we really deserve? This is only the beginning of Nathan’s search for a new life credo that will have both love and reason at its core.
Just City plunges readers into engrossing self-exploration alongside Nathan, who plays the classical lost young man seeking the best version of himself. He begins the novel steeped in narrowmindedness and limiting beliefs, but his fight to become a better person is stirring. Readers will empathize with him as they follow his journey and his attempts to surround himself with new people who may (or may not) be looking out for his best interests. The novel culminates in a striking realization for Nathan: “[selfishness] is a value one can choose or not choose for oneself.” Instead, it’s rationality “that helps us find the best approximation to the truth.”
Tymofiyeva depicts Nathan’s growth toward that idea with heart and persuasive power. Despite its philosophical bent, the story is sharply plotted, moving along at a fair pace. The emphasis on increasing Nathan’s awareness of prejudice is welcome, as is Tymofiyeva’s attempt to introduce readers to meditation and concepts of higher awareness. The ending builds to a powerful lesson on free will and human interconnectedness. Young seekers who enjoy contemplative fiction, rich in this is a polished, illuminating read.
Takeaway: This standout YA SF novel invites readers to reflect on life, philosophy, and tech.
Great for fans of: Brittney Morris’s Slay, Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang’s In Real Life.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
"In Just City, readers will be left in awe and inspired as they follow a young man’s philosophical journey through an existential crisis. Just City is a fascinating character study that blends the high-tech world with young adult themes to explore personal identity, social hierarchies, and interpersonal relationships. With deeply emotional moments and highly intellectual conversations, Just City is perfect for readers who are ready to engage and question their own privilege, empathy, and belonging."
Just City receives its first award! The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed the editors with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and the award acknowledges the hard work, dedication, and writing talent of these brilliant authors.