The City & The City by China Mieville

Summary from Goodreads:

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

From among the books I have read so far, this year, The City and The City will be among the memorable ones. Mieville presented a fantastical world, one that defies one of the the laws of physics, that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. It opposes the saying that we can never be in two places at once. The two cities, Bezel and Ul Quoma, are both in the exact same location, but has different inhabitants, culture, customs, laws, language, fashion. The residents of each city grow up being trained to “unsee” those on the other city, failure to do so brings a mysterious arm of the law called “Breach” upon them. Unfamiliar words such as “topolganger” and “crosshatch", pop up occasionally. Reading it felt like having a newfangled gadget. But one that is far from gimmicky. Mievielle has a way of making it all very credible and real. On top of that, the fact that the narrative, at it’s core, is a murder mystery, adds much to its believability, and just makes it a little less outrageous than the backdrop from which it operates. 

But I found myself less satisfied with the mystery story. I guess I was kind of expecting it to be as intricate and complex as the setting. The unraveling of the mystery felt a little lackluster to me. A light bulb went off Inspector Borlu’s (the protagonist) head and, boom, pieces of information starts to trickle into his brain, information that leads him to finally solve the murder case. It's just that I expected something bigger, somehow, something a little less straightforward. I also wished the story probed more on the  whole “unseeing” thing.  What's the reason for it? Why are the repercussions so grave upon commitment?  But still, I found it to be a solid detective story, one that will have you turning page after page.

Comments

  1. It's not good to expect too much. Haha! :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kaw kasi, hype maker. Haha! Kidding. Ako yon. :P

      But I still gave it 4 stars naman. :)

      Delete
  2. It could have been a trilogy or something if the history of the Breach, unseeing, etc., were discussed. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. And I really wouldn't mind if they made it into a trilogy. Meliza mentioned something about people asking China about this, and him saying that it's not the focus of the novel, Mahalia's murder case is. But I am being a nitpicking little nerd and wanted some Breach lore. Haha!

      Delete
  3. Hey, 4 stars is better than good. Really glad that you liked it. ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, 4 stars ain't too shabby. The whole two places in one location really tickled my fancy. :)

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders

George Saunders and an Attempt at Reading More...Hopefully...Maybe

Trese: Murder at Balete Drive by Budjette Tan, Art by Kajo Baldisimo