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The City & The City (Random House Reader's Circle) Paperback – April 27, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Better known for New Weird fantasies (Perdido Street Station, etc.), bestseller Miéville offers an outstanding take on police procedurals with this barely speculative novel. Twin southern European cities Beszel and Ul Qoma coexist in the same physical location, separated by their citizens' determination to see only one city at a time. Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad roams through the intertwined but separate cultures as he investigates the murder of Mahalia Geary, who believed that a third city, Orciny, hides in the blind spots between Beszel and Ul Qoma. As Mahalia's friends disappear and revolution brews, Tyador is forced to consider the idea that someone in unseen Orciny is manipulating the other cities. Through this exaggerated metaphor of segregation, Miéville skillfully examines the illusions people embrace to preserve their preferred social realities. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
To start, this book is BONKERS. But in the best way possible. Admittedly, I found the beginning to be tough to get through simply because Mieville's writing is something I wasn't used to reading; at times it feels very sporadic and seems to "jump around" a lot without much exposition, but after a while I realized that I actually enjoy it that way, things seem more "fast-paced" which fits well with the story itself. It gets really interesting once he starts to describe "Breach" and the way the characters "unsee" the neighboring city. [MILD SPOILER] these details don't get "explained" until some chapters into the book, but I felt that this helped set the tone earlier on by making the character's actions that more intriguing; I kept reading because I wanted to better understand their strange behaviors and "see" the picture that Mieville was creating.
I love the concept (I haven't seen or read other stories like it), and the characters are believable and entertaining. If anyone has other suggestions for books like this please let me know, but in the meantime I would recommend this to anyone interested in more speculative fiction.
This is not as filled with wonders as Perdido St. Station or the Iron Council and the language and imagery is terse by comparison. But as I reflect upon the fundamental message of unseeing in a dense, diverse city, this work gets kudos for opening the eyes. When we walking in a city we know, or one we hardly know there places and especially people we unsee perhaps unconsciously as much as we focus on what we do see. This is also true of amusement parks, where we unsee those that keep it clean and running.
The book's all about building a believable alternate world, and this it does brilliantly.
Apologies if I'm gushing (sure, all the cool kids already knew China Mieville was great...) so in the interests of finding some false balance, let me find a few faults. Tough, but if it were me, I'd have pushed the inspector's relationship with his female constable to see where that might go, and I'da thrown in a bit more humour, but hey, I'm just looking for nits to pick. This is great stuff. Loved it.