The City and the City By China Mieville
Audiobook Edition, Narrated by John Lee
Finished on 2/12/2017
2 Cities, 1 Cop, 1 Dead Researcher and 1 Ancient Conspiracy out of 5
‘The City and the City’ is a New Weird Police Procedural novel based in the Eastern European City-states of Ul Qoma and Beszel and the interstitial spaces between the two. These two cities have the quirk of sharing the exact same location, so a person standing in Ul Qoma can literally be mere inches away from someone in Beszel but be completely unable to perceive them. I don’t even think this can accurately be described as a book of the fantasy genre, but instead a high-concept novel. The plot’s endless tension suspends what disbelief might be resultant from the cryptic rules which separate cities and the Breach in between.
My biggest problem with the book was that the characters were un-memorable. Even just after finishing the book I can hardly remember any of their names, and none of their character traits. I don’t even remember if the main character has a family, friends, lovers, hobbies, pets, quirks, political party, religion, personality, phobias, the works. He is a ???????. It’s obvious the author poured all his attention into the setting and story, and forgot the characters.
Net total a fantastic experience, however I don’t think it will hold up to future rereads (once you know the trick, the spell is broken). If you like reading reasonably challenging books, and you’re willing to swing a semi-fantasy book, give ‘The City and the City’ a whirl. I certainly was impressed.
And a note about the audiobook edition: the narrator did a bad job of verbally differentiating the different characters. Usually a voice actor speaks with a different voice for each character, but for this book the narrator took little effort in playing the role of the different characters. It made listening harder.