The City & The City cover

Review: The City & The City

The City & The City

The City & The City coverAuthor: China Miéville;
Genre: Fantasy/Mystery/Thriller;
Format: Audiobook;
Narrator: John Lee;
Publisher: Random House Audio (2009);
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5).

I’ve had this book on my TBR list for years, but some comments on Goodreads reminded me of it recently. I grabbed the audiobook and was off.

As you can see by my “genre” choices above, this book isn’t easy to catalog. It’s basically a police procedural, but the unique setting is where the confusion—and the wonder—comes in. The book takes place in an imaginary Eastern European city that exists within another city, but the two are totally separated by allegiance. Citizens must choose to see only their own city and ignore—or “unsee”—the other. This leads to some wonderful quandaries where the book really shines. To investigate a murder, the detective must officially visit the other city and work with another police force. Meanwhile, a mysterious entity above all other authority is lurking and watching for those who “breach” the boundaries.

The characters are not the focus, and most of them are pretty bland. Yes, we want the main character to succeed on his tenacious quest for a murderer, but we never really get a sense of who he is. We’re never sure who the good guys are, either, which is difficult for an author to pull off, but Miéville does it in several of the works I’ve read. I don’t admire the author’s politics, but I do admire his writing.

John Lee does a terrific job with the narration (as usual). His pacing was excellent and his accents were good enough to differentiate the characters.

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