Sunday, July 18, 2010
The City & The City by China Miéville (Book Review)
If this all sounds confusing, I submit that it is probably due to my inability to capture what Miéville has done in this novel, which is to take a speculative premise that completely jars against our expections and sense of what should be, and make it work and flow.
We are introduced to Beszel and Ul Qoma through Inspector Tyador Borlú, who's investigation of a murder leads him to travel through and explore both cities. As the plot develops and at least ostensibly follows a police procedural, the implausibility of Beszel and Ul Qoma lessens and we begin to accept the cities as they are. It does help that the cities are in Europe, which allows us to recall Berlin when it was divided and find something familiar and real to which we can compare Beszel and Ul Qoma. By the end of the novel, the notion of two cities occupying basically the same physical space or unseeing someone or something right beside you doesn't seem strange at all.
I don't normally give books a numeric or star rating, but if I did, I would hand out top honors for The City & The City. Both thought-provoking and enjoyable, this is speculative fiction at its best.