5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A thought-provoking premise, let down by some technical issues,
This review is from: The City & the City (Kindle Edition)Have you ever been walking down a street and spotted someone you only half know, a colleague or acquaintance? And then you pretend that you haven't seen each other until you reach an acceptable distance apart, the feeling of 'corriearklet' as Douglas Adams put it?
I think that's what this book is about.
This is the first China Mieville book I have read, so I didn't have any real expectations beyond the review I had read in Interzone magazine. So I was aware I was entering into a police procedural/noir-styled escapade with a slight sci-fi twist. The story follows Tyador Borlu, a detective trying to solve the murder of a young unidentified woman. The real meat of the story, however, is the backdrop of the two intertwined cities of vaguely Turkish Ul Qoma and vaguely Czech Beszel (the actual location of the cities is never given). While the main story arc is competent, for me at least it was the mechanics of the shared yet separated existence of the cities that drove me through the story. Is there some strange inter-dimensional rift? Or are they separated only by groupthink and political motivation? How similar is the 'unseeing' employed by the inhabitants of the cities to my own interaction with the city I live in? How do the seemingly all-powerful Breach work to maintain the separation of the cities?
And what must it feel like to live there? I can only imagine a constant feeling of corriearklet.
The book's only major flaw is that it fails in the difficult task of capturing that feeling sufficiently. Despite that, it triggered enough thoughts to keep me busy for quite some time.
Also, there are two points on the technical side that drop this book from four stars to three:
- There were some moments that felt like the editing had slipped up. One reviewer mentioned the beginning of Chapter 12 especially. I read that sentence at least ten times before moving on, unable to understand it. It really does look like a section Mieville forgot to fill out.
- On the Kindle version I have, the accented 'z' in Beszel comes out too large and pixelated. It's a bit ugly and distracting, and unfortunately it's used a lot throughout the narrative.
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Initial post: 19 Aug 2011 00:42:00 BDT
Hans Bobbletoff: with respect, I disagree with your comment about the beginning of Chapter 12. I understood the paragraph perfectly on first reading. The staccato, partial sentences and ungrammatical style perfectly convey the fractured, flickering experience of being in transit, passing through an unfamiliar place and getting brief glimpses of scenes around you. Mieville reinforces this feeling with his last sentence in the paragraph: "I had not been able to get Corwi even as my escort".
Heavy-handed editing would have robbed the opening paragraph of all it's poetry.
In reply to an earlier post on 26 Aug 2011 16:07:21 BDT
Hans Bobbletoff says:
I suspect you are correct, given that no newspaper review has brought up the same issues. The little grammatical tics do add a certain character to Borlu, but that one sentence really threw me off - my suspension of disbelief just collapsed, which is why I remember it so clearly.
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