- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 10 hours and 18 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: May 26, 2009
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002BBXBPM
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The City & The City Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
It's a detective novel written in the first-person; the narrator is Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Beszel Extreme Crime Squad. The writing style is relatively spare, reminescent of Dashiell Hammett. The narrator constrains himself strictly to observable phenomena and tells us nothing of characters' inner thoughts or emotional states, which makes the action seem very immediate and the narration very stark. Police procedures are presented believably but without too much detail. The case itself is not terribly elaborate. It starts with a murder, but about two-thirds of the way through I felt that the murder was no longer the focus. Inspector Borlu's investigation leads to fringe political groups, an archaeological site, a foreign country, and to somewhere else entirely. The setting of the novel is what makes the story work. There wouldn't be a story if it wasn't set in Beszel and Ul Qoma. It's a totally original concept, like nothing I have ever read before.
Beszel is a gloomy, decaying city which seems to be located somewhere in Eastern Europe. Ul Qoma is a bright, bustling city that seems either Arabic or Turkish. The relationship between the two cities is the central theme of the book. I can't tell you much about it without spoiling the beautiful unfolding of the novel. Of course Inspector Borlu takes everything for granted because he lives there; it's all familiar to him .. so instead of explaining things as one would to a foreign visitor, he lets details emerge through descriptions of sights and events, and the reader slowly pieces together details of the setting.Read more ›
There are books that you can read at a surface level, just taking in the words one at a time as they lay out character, setting and plot much like a computer loading an image. Mieville's books - and to a lesser extent his stories - tend to be more like jigsaw puzzles without the box. In his more fantastic work, it's less jarring than here because even at his most outre, he tends to tread familiar paths as far as story and plot, so you can keep up.
This, on the other hand, is a bit of noir fiction/magical realism, and it's a bit jarring to read about a hundred pages of the book before you're really given a handle as to exactly what's going on.
That aside, the overall plot of the book - not to mention the characters and, of course, the cities themselves - makes for a good read, but be prepared to devote a considerable amount of your brain's memory cache to this book until you're finished.
On the plus side, Mieville's style is distinctive, literary and interesting. "The City and the City" isn't something you've read a dozen times before; it's original, and for that reason alone it's worth reading. The SF and mystery genres seem to breed dozens of cut-rate "me too" novels for every truly interesting work, so just reading something new and different is worth a couple of stars alone. The characters are well-drawn and interesting, as are the cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma.
On the minus side, every page of this book talks about the intersection between the cities in some way - the alter, the crosshatching and so on. After a while, we get it; the point doesn't have to be belabored. Speaking of the point, we also get the point about subcultures and minorities and what we see in daily life versus what we don't, which is all well and good. But either I missed the point of the novel as a whole or just didn't get it, because at the end my first reaction was, "so what?" I understand that Tyodor has changed as a result of his experience, but I would expect that from a character written by a good writer; again, my though was "so what?" The ending left me cold, as if the book just stopped. I got the impression that the identity of the killer just wasn't that important; that it just got picked out of a hat, and tossed in right at the end to satisfy those who would be disappointed if a murder mystery never identified the killer.
Having said that, "The City and the City" is at least worth borrowing from the library. The pros outweigh the cons, and if you don't love it, you will likely at least enjoy it.
Reading this book, you are plunged into this very strange concept of the two cites occuping same space right away. As the story develops, you learn how people living there deal with their unusual reality. The reader follows the main character, a police detective, as he investigates a murder. As he finds out more about the murder, the clues may lead to a bigger mystery and conspiracy. Finding out all the pieces of the puzzle as the detective does is part of the fun.
I adore China Mieville, his prose, his writing style and his unique concepts. I love most everything he has written. His books set in Bas-Lag are very intricate and complex and long. This book is NOT set in Bas-Lag, it is shorter than those novels, and a satisfying read by itself. Highly recommended.
One more recommendation: If you ever have the chance to hear the author in person, go see him. He is very gracious in person. He has a wonderful voice and I enjoyed hearing him read from one of his works when I had the chance to see him at a signing event.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I woke up this morning wondering why I finished this book. Maybe so I would feel OK to review it. Mieville often develops very different ideas and that's what I am looking for -... Read morePublished 1 day ago by William F. Wallace
"The City The City" by China Mieville [July 23, 2016 - fantasy - 0714]
My reading experience with "The City & The City" (2009) by China Mieville was... Read more
This is (apparently) my first read of w book by mr mieville. It is also apparently atypical to his style. But I am blown away by it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by matt haines
The City and the City was my recent introduction to China Mieville based on a co-worker's recommendation. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Michael
I hated the premise of this book. It was infuriating. No one would actually stay in this place and put up with these restrictions.Published 2 months ago by Owen
Interesting story line but a bit obtuse and difficult to follow. Some in my book club enjoyed it. Not a real easy read.Published 2 months ago by Thinker
An absolutely excellent book. China Miéville is one of the most lucid and engaging voices in contemporary literature. Read morePublished 2 months ago by May