The City and the City

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Mieville tends to get overly wrapped up in his worlds. So it becomes "good if you like that sort of thing". Of his books, I really only liked Kraken. The Perdido Street series was OK. Both Embassytown and Railsea were so drawn out that I kept skipping ahead to find out when things might start happening again. I've not read The City and the City yet, based on my meh experiences with Mieville, but after this review, I'll read it.If you want "weird pulp science fiction" then you might wish to read some of Jeffrey Thomas' "Punktown" novels (particularly "Punktown", "Monstrocity" and "Everybody Scream"). They're somewhat Lovecraftian, much like Charles Stross' Laundry Series, but a bit darker and set on another world.
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I've read Perdido Street Station recently and I'm still gaining courage to plough through the rest of the series. I quite liked it, overly verbose at times but, other than that, the cityscape was interesting and very much alive. If the city was made solely out creepy-crawlies, I wouldn’t be too surprised.I’ve read good things about Kraken, and I’ve been curious to try out Railsea, as well. I might just push them to the top of the list and finish the Perdido series a bit later lolI am reiterating, but you might find yourself also skipping the first few pages of The City and the City. The only reason why I didn’t do it myself was because I was so dead curious about knowing more about the divide between them. It's much like you put it, if those sort of things catch your attention, you can expect a good read, if they don't, heh, might as well skip a bit, it's still a good book.I never read anything by Jeffrey Thomas, but yeah I do love sci-fi/horror so thanks for recommending it.
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I read King Rat by Mieville and found it pretty shallow, lacking any real substance. I then started Kraken and it was woeful. So much so that I gave up on it after around 50 pages, something I rarely do with books.I keep being told to stick with him and, especially, give City and City a read but I am very reluctant based on my previous 2 experiences
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I can see why many people don't like Miéville's books, but for me they do work and I have a wonderful time reading them. The City and The City in particular is a difficult book to describe, because the premise sounds so poor (or at least it does when I try to describe it), but if you're willing to read it and let it take you then it's an engrossing story.
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I second that, and I admit I found myself having a bit of a hard time trying to review this book and my own perspective of it. There just doesn’t seem to be much the author can expand on the premise for the cities and the mystery plot might get a bit underwhelming because certain details are left unexplained. I’m not sure if I made the book any justice but I certainly gave it my best try. And if someone ends up picking it up and loves it too, it will make my day.
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You should give The City and the City a try, for sure. He has a very meandering and dense writing style which is not everyone's cup ov tea. So if until now you haven't had a good experience reading his books, maybe Miéville just isn't your thing. vOv
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I really enjoyed this book.

The City and the City is a book that, to be sure, needs quite a lot of patience to keep on reading. The premise might seem confusing at times and it does require sheer endurance to read through the first 70 pages. Past that point, you find an utterly fantastic novel.

At first, the novel starts like typical detective fiction. The plot is engaging, but on the whole it seems like a pretext to write about the surroundings in which it happens. In fact, the murder mystery almost completely fades to the background as you get more and more absorbed in The City and the City. The true protagonists of this novel are the eastern European city-states of Beszél and Ul Qoma.

Both places share a common history, and there is evidence that they were once a single city until they were split by an unexplained event called "Cleavage" centuries before the start of the story. Now, the cities of Beszél and of Ul Qoma exist overlapped in the same physical space. People inhabiting one nation are conditioned to ignore – to "unsee" and to "unsense" – the citizens of the other, even if there are events are happening inches away from them. They must at all times be wary of the "crosshatched" areas where both cities merge geographically and which are perilous. Acknowledging the people or buildings from the other city is the worst violation possible, called a "Breach," and is punishable by a sinister and omniscient Orwellian law enforcement agency that remains independent from either city.

The story follows a disgruntled detective from Beszél investigating the murder of a young woman. What makes this more than a routine murder investigation is that the woman, a foreign exchange student, most likely has committed Breach. This leads the detective to try and retrace the steps of a woman who interacted with both worlds, in the process challenging his own conditioned behaviour.

China Miéville has an incredible mind, with a vast and creative imagination and a capacity for detailed world building. He understands the connection between a people’s sense of identity (their national identity) and the place where they live. He has cleaved a country in half and observed it as the citizens compete for the same reality and space.

At the time of the novel, the languages of each city have become distinct, their customs altered and even their fashions different. Many other idiosyncrasies distinguish them, from their odd and puzzling conventions to their strange habits. They even have distinct relations to other countries in the world and interact with those to varying degrees. Each country in itself is an amalgam of the seemingly meaningless beliefs and traditions that define a nation and its particular identity. But excluding certain small factions where their feelings can escalate to xenophobic nationalism, they don’t seem to have a problem with one another, no deep-seated hate or prejudice. They seem to live in relative peace when undisturbed by the Breach and the temptation to watch the other side.

The City and The City is the weirdest pulp science fiction story I’ve ever read. Miéville regularly mixes genres, and this novel is a noir crime thriller set in fantastical surroundings, with elements of existentialism and strangeness. It might not be the best choice for hard sci-fi fans, but for those readers inclined towards Lovecraft, plough through those difficult initial pages and immerse yourself in the plot that connects these two cities.

Lamora has been playing EVE since—well, not that long ago. When it comes to books, she takes in everything available. She is the online alter ego of a sleep-deprived reader, gamer and film addict. What else is there to do? On twitter @LamoraSolette