Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town” as Want to Read:
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,680 Ratings  ·  314 Reviews
Alan is a middle-aged entrepeneur 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 the ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Tor Books (first published 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom RiggsWilliam Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian DoescherHollow City by Ransom RiggsHorrorstör by Grady HendrixWilliam Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher
Quirk Books
16th out of 64 books — 67 voters
Britt by Alan  HardyGabriella by Alan  HardyThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsMagic America by C.E. MedfordCat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Quirky Books
116th out of 149 books — 132 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 07, 2008 Brooke rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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,
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
Sep 17, 2010 Juliet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Astray Penguin
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 05, 2008 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 21, 2011 Christina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patrick H
Jan 09, 2014 Patrick H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Patrick O'Neil
Jul 29, 2008 Patrick O'Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
May 24, 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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
James Lowe
Mar 26, 2015 James Lowe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first listened to this in 2009 when the author read it over the course of 36 episodes of his podcast. Earlier this month something made me want to listen once more, so I tracked down and downloaded all 36 episodes again. (You can get them here:

I didn't remember it well, other than remembering that it's wonderfully weird. It's also quite violent and disturbing in places, which I barely remembered. What I did remember, and what was most striking this sec
Jul 18, 2014 mina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The real rating: 3.5
I love the book, really satisfies my craving of odd stories. It's just that, I don't really understand it. I want a clear insight:
(view spoiler)

A lot of bizarre things in this book: the characters, the storyline sequence, the plot.

How do you feel about the background of the protagonist: he's a man, a son of a washing machine and a mountain, with 4 pecul
C.B. Daring
(Review written at 4am after finishing it, may come back to edit.)

I read this book in essentially two sittings over the course of several days. It’s imperfect, sometimes lacking in plot satisfaction, but absolutely captivating. In other words, it’s a fantastic account of the writing process. The protagonist Alan, refers to the story he is going to write at various points, although it is not until the final 30 pages that we begin to see it take shape.

“He went back upstairs and sat down at the ke
LynAnne Smucker
Jan 27, 2009 LynAnne Smucker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 02, 2015 Hmpf rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: digital-reading
Strange, strange book. Almost impossible to rate, for me: I often give four stars to flawed books that have *some* parts that work incredibly well for me; I've been known to give five stars for that, even, in a few cases. But the parts of this book jar badly, sometimes, and the whole internet connectivity theme feels shoehorned-in and distracts from the other, weirder strand of the novel. So my rating is three and a half stars, I guess, but goodreads doesn't do half-stars.
Speaking of that other
Jun 17, 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
Mar 21, 2007 Jenne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 26, 2014 Kathryn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book looked like it would be a unique read. And it is. I kept reading because I truly enjoyed the author's writing style, even as I began to care less and less about the story itself. The book has two tales that it follows, the one of Alan (or any other male "A" name) and his family, while the other is about Alan trying to help set up free wireless internet for his area. The first one was interesting, for the members of the family were not made up of the usual characters. The seco ...more
Feb 19, 2014 Mel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Molto strano.
Ci sono due storie: nella prima Alan cerca di creare un circuito wi-fi libero nella città, nella seconda va a caccia del fratello che ha ucciso i suoi tre fratelli.
La prima è molto alla Cory Doctorow, ma non mi è piaciuta molto, l'ho trovata un po' noiosa e di sfondo alla vicenda principale (uno sfondo inutile direi).
La seconda è quella veramente geniale: Alan è figlio di una montagna e di una lavatrice, ha tre fratelli "matriosca", un fratello sensitivo e un fratello cadavere, e si
Oct 17, 2015 Louise rated it liked it
Shelves: read-my-age, zombies
All in all an interesting story - I love quirky and different tales.

I'd have liked Alan's reaction to what happens at the end (view spoiler)
I don't get why Alan bothers with the free Network at all - it seems completely irrelevant to the rest of the story - and his motivations, like another story that's been pasted on a whim into the one abou
Jun 09, 2015 Esther rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So disappointed. So much meandering sciency infodumpy not-even-a-plotline mingled with sighingly wonderful plottish fantasy, neither coming to fruition. Total letdown. The sciency stuff reminded me of what had me stop reading Little Brother: PREACH PREACH PREACH. But three stars for this one because the fantasy part is wonderful. He has two novels here and should've surgically separated them to realize each fully.

Edit: I changed this to two stars because Doctorow could've done so much more with
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Behemoth: β-Max (Rifters #3.1)
  • Halo
  • Postsingular
  • Scratch Monkey
  • Budayeen Nights
  • Everyone in Silico
  • The Jazz
  • Ventus
  • Memory Wire
  • The Caryatids
  • Bear Daughter
  • In the Drift
  • Criptonomicón III: El código Aretusa
  • The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl
  • A Signal Shattered
  • Elvissey
Canadian blogger, journalist and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing.

He is an activist in favor of liberalizing copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licenses for his books.

Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, file sharing, Disney, and post-scarcity economics.
More about Cory Doctorow...

Share This Book

“All secrets become deep. All secrets become dark. That's in the nature of secrets.” 52 likes
“You know, there comes a point where you're not giving advice anymore. There comes a point where you're just moralizing, demonstrating your hypothetical superiority when it comes to doing the right thing. That's not very fucking helpful, you know. I'm holding my shit together right now, and rather than telling me that it's not enough, you could try to help me with the stuff I'm capable of.” 8 likes
More quotes…