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.
I had never heard of the genre “New Weird” until it became the theme for the book club’s monthly read last June. The moderators picked three books all by this same author to be voted on online, and The City and The City won (the other choices were Un Lun Dun and Embassytown). Although I had enjoyed Un Lun Dun more (I read it after I finished The City and The City; will write a post about it soonest), I am still glad this is the book that won the poll.
For me, The City and The City perfectly introduced the New Weird genre to first-timers like me. Another plus was the fact that crime stories are my staple when it comes to fiction. Admittedly, the first few chapters confounded me with unseeing, breach, and crosshatches and grosstopical landmarks, but it was the mystery of the crime that really kept me going. When Inspector Tyador Borlu crossed the borders into Ul Quoma, that was when the initially shady references made sense. I loved the thrill of the investigation and the political intrigues that accompanied it. If Beszel and Ul Quoma were real, I would love to visit them. I would love to see and to learn how to properly unsee, lest Breach will take me away.
It was fun reading The City and The City. Until now, months after reading it, my mind is still reeling at how the story unravelled. I am still mesmerized with the way the mind of China Mieville works. His imagination is so fantastically weird, I instantly
got a crush on him became a fan (he’s not bad-looking, either.)
The ending was one of the things that I liked about the novel. All throughout the book, I was wondering greatly about Breach and Orciny — what they really were and whether they indeed existed — and with the way the story wrapped up in the end, I was satisfied. If I had my way, I would want Breach to be more than what it really was as revealed at the end. However, with China Mieville, nothing is typical, and nothing is predictable.
The City and The City is one of my favorite reads for this year. I am definitely reading more of China Mieville. 🙂
My copy: ebook
TFG Book of the Month (June)