Thursday, July 02, 2009
Book Review - The City and The City by China Mieville
The City & The City Review
May 26, 2009
There is no doubt that China Mieville is one of our greatest new urban poets but when I began reading “The City & The City” I became very disappointed. Generally, Mieville requires his readers to work a little harder than most for the payoff and “The City” is no exception. I expected the odd Mieville characters in bizarre settings which is (kind of) what I got. But the language, especially the scenes, dialogue, and conversation was written in such an affected style, (stop... and never finish a thought… and go) that I was left wondering many times what any one character was trying to say to another. I have read all his other work and found them less difficult to decipher then this story. But then, in true Mieville fashion the book hits its stride in the last third and somewhat redeems itself. What could have been a terrible mistake of form becomes less cloudy and a really good murder mystery story begins to emerge. The elements that were difficult to understand early on became somewhat clearer and the story suddenly fell into place. I am concerned that first time readers will be put off by this style but perhaps this novel was written for the established fan and not the neophyte. In either event this turned from a confusing story into a satisfactory murder mystery who-dun-it which kept me guessing (yet somewhat confused) until the last page.
I think a more straightforward approach to this story would have eventually made it a time-honored and respected murder-mystery. As is, I have to rate it slightly better than mediocre.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars