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Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  2,871 Ratings  ·  333 Reviews
Alan is a middle-aged entrepreneur in contemporary Toronto, who has devoted himself to fixing up a house in a bohemian neighborhood. This naturally brings him in contact with the house full of students and layabouts next door, including a young woman who, in a moment of stress, reveals to him that she has wings--wings, moreover, which grow back after each attempt to cut th
Paperback, 315 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Tor Books (first published 2005)
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Pia Mogollon My sentiments exactly, I tried to think of it as quirky and fun, but after awhile it is just annoying and I keep wondering if there is ever going to…moreMy sentiments exactly, I tried to think of it as quirky and fun, but after awhile it is just annoying and I keep wondering if there is ever going to be an explanation for it. It's kind of a shame because other than that I am really enjoying the book. (less)

Community Reviews

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Aug 15, 2007 Brooke rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008, science-fiction
This novel contained two stories that were smushed together in a not-entirely-convincing way: a story about blanketing a neighborhood in Toronto with free WiFi, something I'd expect from author Cory Doctorow, and a story about a man whose parents are a mountain and a washing machine, a magical realism twist that I wasn't expecting. The result felt incomplete since neither story was fully fleshed out, and they just didn't seem to go together. The WiFi plot seemed like it was just a platform for t ...more
Mar 06, 2008 Fritz added it
This maddening book contains two major plot threads which happen to be, respectively, the least banal and most banal I have ever encountered:

Least Banal: The protagonist's father was a mountain and his mother was a washing machine. He is trying to save his brothers, who may or may not have been eaten by another of his brothers, a zombie whom he himself killed years earlier. I wish stories like this were spread on every morning's breakfast toast.

Most Banal: The context for the brother-hunt is the
This is one of those books that makes strenuous demands on the reader, defying classification and pushing metaphor as far as it will go. Depending on whether you throw it down in disgust or allow it to seduce you, you will love it or hate it but you cannot remain unmoved by this stunning tour de force unless you have the imagination of a pea. But then you would never have found this book.

Raised in a dysfunctional family by a remote father and a mother who provides only comfort and clean clothes,
Dany Burns
I thought this book was only good. I hated the first 40 or 50 pages which is something I can't just ignore. Those first pages seemed very male oriented and I felt like I couldn't relate to the story or characters at all, but once I got passed those first pages I became more engaged in the story, especially once the character of Kurt was introduced. Kurt was definitely my favorite character and he made the story actually enjoyable to me. I was okay with the other characters. They didn't really tu ...more
Sep 17, 2010 Juliet rated it really liked it
A truly weird read. We meet the central character, Alan, as he prepares to move into his new apartment by sanding the floors obsessively, then rocks up on his unknown neighbours' doorstep early in the morning with coffees for everyone, and insists they get out of bed to be sociable. This is the protagonist? How can we ever empathise with him?

The story gets ever stranger as Alan's throwaway references to his father the mountain, his mother the washing machine and his nesting dolls of brothers pro
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
There were some amazing beginnings in this book. Or some potentially amazing ideas. That is, they could have been amazing ideas, had Doctorow seen any of them through to completion. While that is almost the hallmark of Doctorow's novels, I found that the first three in particular were so scattered and poorly structured that the ideas themselves actually suffered. In this case there are also two main stories at play which really have very little to do with each other: the story of A and his bizar ...more
Eden Frost
Dec 07, 2016 Eden Frost rated it it was amazing
This book is truly spectacular. It traces the story of the son of a mountain and a washing machine, something that isn't really explained, but you come to feel is somehow right. More specifically, it traces him, his family, and his friends through the story of his life and, more broadly, his family. The writing presents the world in such a way that "normal people," the human race as a whole, becomes its own character, a special dynamic that really makes the story great.
Astray Penguin
Apr 11, 2008 Astray Penguin rated it it was ok
I felt the book had a lot of promise but failed to deliver on it. The story seems to just be the beginning and then comes to a climax of the side story while leaving the main completely in the dark.

I enjoyed some of the characters, but found them to act at random and be dull in general. Relationships were unexplained and why two characters team up together is just impossible to work out.

I also feel the book is too much of a political statement by the author. The more I read about the Wireless ne
Jun 19, 2009 Guy rated it it was ok
Intriguing but ultimately unsuccessful mixture of magical realism and technopunk. Doctorow does not lack for creativity, but he does lack focus... and perhaps either a good editor or the willingness to listen to the one he has. There are numerous problems: the two strands of the story don't fit together well, the narrative jumps back and forth haphazardly (at times leaving the impression that whole sections have been inadvertently left out), the ending leaves too much unresolved (in sort of the ...more
Jul 31, 2010 Ryun rated it really liked it
Up until recently, I’d been avoiding Cory Doctorow’s books. Seriously! I would have these internal dialogues every time I saw one of his books at the store:

Good Me: “Hey, Cory Doctorow has a new book out. He’s supposed to be awesome.”

Evil Me: “Don’t believe the hype, you wannabe hipster. That dude is totally milking his involvement in the blog phenomenon. He can’t be as ‘all that’ as they say. Nobody’s that ‘all that.’”

GM: “If you say so. I just heard he’s a good writer, is all.”

The first 18 pages described the perfect house for a bibliophile. Yes! Walls that have bookshelves, floor to ceiling, filled with books, in every room --- perfection. I wanted to live there.

After page 18, the novel focussed on other areas. I wasn't pulled into the events post-page 18, but I was willing to give the novel some time to tell its story.

I tossed the novel when it began describing how our hero's brothers were birthed by his mother (around pages 35-40). It wasn't gross or anything lik
Feb 24, 2009 Dale rated it liked it
First, read the description. Now you know why I had to pick this book up. It is some of the most original and unique fantasy I've read. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world Doctorow creates. He's also has some interesting ideas about writing. My particular favorite was the way he played with the names of his characters. That said, I did have some problems with the plot. I couldn't rap my mind around how Alan would get distracted from a family members murder, which could easily be followed by ...more
Patrick O'Neil
Jul 29, 2008 Patrick O'Neil rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of science-fiction/fantasy, or just plain wierd (in a good way) books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 25, 2008 Morgan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Morgan by: Sean Cote
Shelves: fantastical
(Because Sean Cote is evil.)

I loved the premise for the book, which was all the information I could get about it when Sean handed it to me in the midst of a barrage of props tasks for the day. I mean, who comes up with things like that? Amazing.

It started off great. I love Alan's flashbacks, detailing his life as an outsider and what it was like living at home.

But then all the technobabble entered the picture, all the stuff with the wireless access points that occupied a large proportion of the
Jun 27, 2009 Michael rated it it was ok
Aldus's dad is a mountain and his mom is a washing-machine. He has six brothers. One can see into the future. One is an island. Another was evil, and is dead now. The final three can fit inside of each other like Russian nesting dolls.

As the story begins, he's moving into a new place where he plans on writing a story, although he has no idea what the story will be. He meets his neighbors, a bunch of punks who think he's extremely strange. Because he is. He's very interested in one of the girls
Patrick H
Aug 04, 2011 Patrick H rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Cory Doctorow is somewhat famous on the Internet.

A journalist, blogger, sci-fi writer, and liberal-copyright proponent, Doctorow should know better than to write a book that makes no sense.

The main character--who is called "Alan" initially but answers to and is referred to by any masculine name beginning with A--and his siblings are all children of a mountain and a washing machine.

One of Alan's sibling is prophetic, one is undead, one is an island, and three are Russian nesting dolls.

And that's
Feb 26, 2011 Christina rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 04, 2008 Howard rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 05, 2008 Bruce rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
There were moments when I was thinking, 5 star book? But no... while this book was a very enjoyable read, something I was glad to read rather than having felt like I was just sort of killing time in a not unpleasant fashion, 3 star style, it has a couple of flaws.

First, it is a novel of x,y,z, and internet connectivity. The IC is a hobbyhorse of the author, but does not actually contribute anything to the plot of this book, other than to give the protagonist an excuse for a friend. Second, weak
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
I first read this around the time that it was new. And even though it's only been seven years, the tech-related parts of it already feel kind of dated. Laptops are still a thing, but smartphones are so much more of a thing that it seems odd that the characters in this story are so incredulous about phones being used to do Internet stuff.

I remember being blown away at the time that I read it. The city-wide wifi network built by homeless kids and a professional dumpster diver; the name-shifting ch
Jun 05, 2013 Ken rated it liked it
I started reading this book a couple of times, but just recently completed a successful run at it. I enjoy it - yet it wasn't quite a four-star read for me, though it was wonderfully inventive and unique.

It's a fable-like story, and that's both a good thing and a bad thing. The characters are clever on the surface, but they remain archetypal - even the more "ordinary" ones feel less like people and more like sketches. This seems largely intentional - but still, it's distancing. Like Russian nest
LynAnne Smucker
Jan 27, 2009 LynAnne Smucker rated it it was amazing
At first I really didn't like the main character, but as the book went on I realized that part of what I didn't like about him was that he was so controlling, but in a polite sort of creepy way. However, as the book progressed, and Alan's past story unfolds you begin to understand why he is who/what he is. Strange story, lots of interesting characters, and I have no good way to say exactly what I liked, but a fasinating quirky love story in the end.
Mar 21, 2007 Jenne rated it liked it
A guy whose father is a mountain and whose mother is a washing machine (and no, this is not metaphorical, that's really what they are, and one of his brothers really is an island and not in the John Donne way) gets involved with a winged girl and tries to bring wireless connectivity to Toronto while battling his murderous dead brother.
I am not making this up.
Pia Mogollon
Jun 20, 2016 Pia Mogollon rated it liked it
Loved it. Seemed like a departure from Doctorow's usual fare. A sort of fantasy horrorish kind of thing. With a bit of technology shoved in to keep it science fictiony. It was a great story though and the characters were well developed, likeable and despiseable. And a few twists.
Brian Hoffmeister
Feb 26, 2017 Brian Hoffmeister rated it liked it
What a strange little tale. Doctorow’s writing pulls you in and I’m a believer, but I haven’t been able to convince my library patrons of his chops, due to his far out topics. A family of strange creatures goes to live in a new town. Some of the children live inside of each other, some are evil and all of them live in a cave, trying to pass for human, though the homo sapiens in the tale are the evil folk. The main character meets someone even further outside of normalcy; someone desperate to kee ...more
Trey Hunner
Jan 10, 2017 Trey Hunner rated it it was ok
I'd give this 2.5 stars if I could because I'm torn. This was definitely an interesting book, but I don't think it was a good book.

There's a few different things going on in this book, none of which I really understood as well as I feel like I should have. The absurdity had no purpose sometimes and I'm not sure what the point of this story was.

I like Cory Doctorow, but I wouldn't recommend this one.
Gareth Otton
This is definitely a book that suffers from a case of not really knowing what it wants to be.

On the one hand, it is a wonderfully written and unapologetically strange tale that was reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's writing at times. On the other, it was a book that pushes the personal agenda of the author in regards to his views on technology and freedom of information. It simultaneously pushes a number of different stories with various tones in many directions, and these stories never seem to blend
Oct 13, 2013 Tim rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 03, 2015 Francesca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Non sono molti i libri che riescono a stupirmi e a lasciarmi qualcosa di nuovo, sia a livello di trama che dal punto di vista di stile narrativo. Questo tipo di amore a prima vista l'ho avuto con pochissimi autori, tra i quali il compianto Pratchett e il geniale Gaiman. Nella triade degli autori della migliore nonsense fantasy fiction aggiungo anche Doctorow, magari con una medaglia di bronzo (lasciando ai primi i posti che si meritano).

Se lo staff che ha curato il libro per l'edizione italiana
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Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of the YA graphic novel In Real Life , the nonfiction business book Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free , and young adult novels like Homeland , Pirate Cinema and Little Brother and novels for adults like Rapture Of The Nerds and Makers . He is a Fellow for the ...more
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“All secrets become deep. All secrets become dark. That's in the nature of secrets.” 55 likes
“I used to want to understand how the world worked. Little things, like heavy stuff goes at the bottom of the laundry bag, or big things, like the best way to get a boy to chase you is to ignore him, or medium things, like if you cut an onion under running water your eyes won't sting, and if you wash your fingers afterwards with lemon-juice they won't stink.
I used to want to know all the secrets, and every time I learned one, I felt like I'd taken--a step. On a journey. To a place. A destination: to be the kind of person who knew all this stuff, the way everyone around me seemed to know all this stuff. I thought that once I knew enough secrets, I'd be like them.”
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