Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review: China Mieville's 'The City & The City'

'The City & The City' is an intoxicating blend of genres that crosses one great divide into another and back again with seamless beauty. An enriching tale that's utterly unique. Borlu of Beszel's Extreme Crime Squad is a sharp protagonist who walks on a knife edge between worlds. Accompanied by a like-equivalent from Ul Qoma, and a sidekick in Corwi, the three set out to solve a murder mystery which threatens to disrupt peace in both the cities which occupy the same space.

The overlapping city sprawls have a past and present vibe - except where ghosts may wonder, real people walk the streets unseen by others from the 'neighbouring' city in fear of breach. Adding to the complex concept, is what lies between Beszel and Ul Qoma, Breach - and perhaps something more sinister and occult-like in Orciny.

Much like a thread, the plot unravels distorting the perception of reality - two, three, four - or more cities possibly exist within the same space. The crime - murder, turns terrorism, civil unrest through unification groups and conspiracies, artifact smuggling, to government cover-ups and schemes beyond dimension. Mieville makes the difficult read believable and pulls off a remarkable concept without flaw. 4 stars.

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