City & The City, The

China Mieville
New York Times bestselling author China Miéville delivers his most accomplished novel yet, an existential thriller set in a city unlike any other–real or imagined.When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel’s equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, and struggling with his own transition, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.Casting shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & the City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2019-01-12
to-read
Reviewed: 2018-04-21
What would it be like if two cities occupied the same geographic space but not the same mental space. Occupants of the one city unseeing the occupants of the other city as they walked along side each other. Never touching but always avoiding each other. Now place a secret force in the mix making sure that the mental space is always enforced disappearing anyone who interacts with the wrong city. This is the setting of a mysterious murder of a forgein student who appears to have died in the wrong city. This is the most mind blowing mystery sine the Yiddish Policemen's Union that I have read.
Reviewed: 2016-11-25
Very interesting setting and idea - really stretches your brain just to imagine yourself in Mieville's world. And it hangs together as a police procedural well.



The City and The City was my first Miéville book to make it to my TBR pile, but I’ve got Bad News. It’ll be awhile until my TBR stack will see another Miéville…

I’ve found it wanting, mostly. It seemed like an ambitious exercise that was poorly executed. For the most part, it’s a withered novel, and the story suffers as a result. There’s not a lot of world-building, and in an existential and fictionalized world, it takes away from the reliance of these places. It just seems like a run-of-the-mill crime novel in an extraordinary location. The main character, Borlu, suffers from chronic lethargy and a lack of personality. The other characters, namely Corwi, were bland nothings. Simple as that. He tried to stay away from the usual cynic that we see in the best Crime Fiction, but left me seeing no personality. Borlu was more a vehicle than anything. There are lots of gaps between me and what he was trying to communicate. His made-up words, without either defining them or including them in a context that might have implied their meaning is what creates the abovementioned gaps. I kept wondering whether he had established a SFictional vocabulary in other books. In every great book there’s always a dividing line between a writer’s understanding of their own ideas, and the readers’ grasp of that same ideas. Good writers manage to offer cognizance over that line, without actually stepping over it. Not having read anything from him before “The City and the City”, I’m not sure what to think. At the end of the day, I didn’t care about the world he had conjured, because it seemed only half thought-out.

Another pet peeve for me was the fact that he kept spelling out the main themes of the book in the dialogue of his characters (a really, bad, bad literary device in my book).

Concept wise is the only point where Miéville scores and he scores in a big way (3 stars for that). Unfortunately cool ideas are not enough to make a book.

SF has a lot more to offer than being just okay. I can’t see how it won the Clarke Award, I sure don’t.



Item Posts
@aemostrom
@aemostrom began #citythecitythe... on 2015-01-20