Review: The City & The City by China Miéville

by @edent | # | 1 comment

A medieval city is superimposed on a modern city.

When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined.

I didn’t want this book to end. I wanted to play it like a video game. I wanted to dive deeper and deeper into its backstory. I craved a glossary, fan sites, and detailed maps.

It’s almost impossible to review this book without spoiling the intricate plot. On the surface, a police officer investigates a murder – beneath the surface, the officer investigates the ridiculous society everyone is trapped in.

It is pure psychogeography and social conditioning distilled into a whodunnit.

The plot is basically fine – interview the suspects, work with a different squad, break the rules, tramp the city. But the plot is second-to-none – explore the contradictions which keep society functioning.

I can’t begin to imagine how this was turned into a TV series – it reads more like it was designed to be a work of interactive fiction. Especially the way the intricacies of the plot gradually build up into a fully formed world.

A bloody good read. Highly recommended that you go into it cold, with no idea of the central plot devices.

One thought on “Review: The City & The City by China Miéville

  1. mike says:

    I read this years ago. If I had to say how it was turned in to a TV series in one word I’d say disappointingly. I’m surprised anyone dared to try and depict the environment in a TV show but I think done about as well as is possible to do. I stopped watching after an episode which ended with a weird sequence I’m pretty certain isn’t in the book. The TV show has a bunch of stuff about Borlú’s wife which isn’t in the book because book Borlú doesn’t have a wife.

    There is at least one real place that has a significant element of The City & The City but I won’t mention it because of what you said about going in to the book cold.

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