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"The City & The City" Discussion > Mieville does Mystery. Whattaya think?

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Brad (judekyle) | 1640 comments China Mieville stated somewhere that he plans to write in every genre over the course of his career, and this is certainly the Meiville version of a police procedural-ish. Thoughts? Fans of Mieville? First timers?


Pickle | 129 comments I loved King Rat, New Crobuzon novels (Perdido, Scar & Iron Council), Un Lun Dun and Looking for Jake but since these ive found his novels not to be of the same standard.

The Kraken has some excellent ideas but was allover the place. I got through it quick enough but cant see myself re-reading it.

City & the City i put down after 100+ pages. Since then ive loaned it to 4 people in work, all different characters, and none of them has managed to finish it.

I dont see myself ever buying Embassytown or any other of his new works unless he goes back to his steampunk/fantasy stuff:(


Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides (upsight) | 542 comments This is the only Miéville I like. (Admittedly, I've only tried this one, Perdido Street Station, and Un Lun Dun.)


Candiss (Tantara) I have really enjoyed nearly every Miéville I've read (New Crobuzon, Looking for Jake, and I'm 1/3 of the way through Embassytown right now.) The only one I haven't been able to get fully into was Kraken. But I LOVED The City and the City! Subtle, twisty, thinky...all hooks for me. I liked the main characters, and I have a strong attraction to anything with an Eastern European flavor (which, along with Middle Eastern, is one of the two genericized cultural milieux central to the book.)

It's been a while since I read this, so my memory of specifics is fuzzy, and I could easily stumble into being spoilery. For now, I'll just say I thought the author did mystery convincingly and certainly unusually, with a pleasing noir wash. I don't read a lot of mystery, as I tend to guess the twist or who-done-it very early on and become bored, but C.M. kept me guessing and interested the whole way through.


Genia Lukin | 269 comments So far (chapter four) I am enjoying it, though I am as yet uncertain this is actually sci-fi. This is my first Mieville, and his writing style is very clean; I like that in an author. I do have to say that, at this point, I've gotten a rather slippery impression of Tyador Borlu; it is as if he has no personality edges to grab hold of. Generic police detective, with few personal traits, very noir-inspired. I hope that as the story moves along we get to see more of the kind of man he is.


Alicia (Alie) | 4 comments This is my first read from Mieville and it was slow going at first. The characters and sci-fi seemed a little vague. The only thing that kept me hooked was the mystery. I'm halfway through it now and I'm really enjoying it, again for the mystery more than the sci-fi.


Evilynn | 332 comments I've read everything Miéville has written, and he's consistently good, although I always feel like he's on the verge of great, but not quite there yet. I think I've rated everything of his 4/5 except The Scar and Looking for Jake (oddly enough, since I generally don't like short story collections!), which both were 5 star reads.

TC&TC is the only Miéville book I don't own a copy of, because I wasn't sure I'd like the whole police procedural thing, but I ended up quite enjoying it and will purchase a copy of my own re-read it at some point. I really liked how the concept of the cities was handled (and that feels like all I can say without spoilers!).


Kelley (badhausfrau) | 16 comments I'm about 70 pages in and it's really starting to drag. I was hooked at the beginning but now it seems like he's going over the same thing over and over. The two cities are side-by-side, it's messed up, I get it. I hope it picks up in terms of the murder investigation and thing actually happening. People who've read it, should I stick with it?


Chris  (haughtc) | 768 comments Kelley wrote: "I'm about 70 pages in and it's really starting to drag. I was hooked at the beginning but now it seems like he's going over the same thing over and over. The two cities are side-by-side, it's mess..."

Wow...sounds ominously like Perdido Street Station by your description. (Or the first half at least. I struggled to that point and stopped.)


Evilynn | 332 comments Chris wrote: "Wow...sounds ominously like Perdido Street Station by your description. (Or the first half at least. I struggled to that point and stopped.) "

Well, I think TC&TC is less than half the page count of PSS, so. ;) It's not the easiest read, and it does deal with a lot of recurring themes in Miéville's work, which'd be hard to pick up/appreciate if it's the first Miéville you read. It does pick up a little plot-wise, but (at least for me) the plot was secondary in TC&TC.


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P. Kirby | 6 comments I loved the New Crobuzon novels, and found King Rat entertaining. But The City & The City didn't do much for me. As a rule, I read Mielville for his settings and use of language and not his characters. Which is unusual for me, since I'm a character-driven reader. In this case, the setting and premise just weren't strong enough to make up for a really bland protagonist. I found Tyador two-dimensional. He's a police detective; he attempts to solve a crime. That's about all there was to him, in my opinion.


Brad (judekyle) | 1640 comments I think you're right about Tyabor, P., but I'd wager that was intentional, as Mieville was trying to adhere to the trappings of the police procedural as much as possible.


Rachel Cotterill (rachelcotterill) | 39 comments This was the first Mieville I read, and I absolutely LOVED it. It's one of my favourite books of all time.

I think I may be the opposite of Pickle because I loved Kraken and Embassytown, too, but couldn't get into Perdido Street Station. But it would be so dull if everyone liked the same things :)


Brad (judekyle) | 1640 comments I may be one of the rare folks who likes everything Mieville is done. I enjoy them all for different reasons and in different ways, but there isn't a book of his I don't like, although I've not read Embassytown yet.


Bee (Benbarian) | 39 comments I love Perdido Street, it was so haunting and twisty, and also really enjoyed City. But then again I didn't read them, I listened to them from Audible.com. It really changes the experience, I'm a lot more patient when listening, because it's passive, so any book that drags is for me at least easier to listen to.


Brad (judekyle) | 1640 comments I've read all the books of his except Kraken, which I listened to, and listening had much the same effect on me, Bee. I actually loved that book, and I know many people who were very disappointed.


Chris  (haughtc) | 768 comments Bee wrote: "I love Perdido Street, it was so haunting and twisty, and also really enjoyed City. But then again I didn't read them, I listened to them from Audible.com. It really changes the experience, I'm a..."

I actually found an audio copy of Perdido so I'll try to switch to that and see if I can finish. If not, I guess I'll give up....but good to see encouraging words about the audio.


Catherine (catjackson) I'm listening to The City and absolutely loving it. Wish I had time to read because I want to be able to see the way he plays with words and language.But with my schedule, the only way I can get to read The City and The City is to read it during the long times I'm in my car. Read Embassytown this summer and fell in love with the book. Wouldn't want to listen to that one, though, because of the importance of linguistics and language to the story. I would want to see the written words, but that's the way my mind works.


Bee (Benbarian) | 39 comments Catherine wrote: "I'm listening to The City and absolutely loving it. Wish I had time to read because I want to be able to see the way he plays with words and language.But with my schedule, the only way I can get to..."

Hi Catherine, he does play magic with words doesn't he?! There should be a word for the warm fuzzy feeling you get when reading a well crafted sentence. ;}

However Listening to a well written work is also pretty awesome. just finished Terry Pratchett Snuff, and wow, he just plays you like a fiddle! Love hearing him even more than reading him!


Catherine (catjackson) Bee wrote: "Catherine wrote: "I'm listening to The City and absolutely loving it. Wish I had time to read because I want to be able to see the way he plays with words and language.But with my schedule, the onl..."

I've heard so much about Terry Pratchett but have never read any. Guess that should be my next read.


Bee (Benbarian) | 39 comments @Catherine, omg, you really have to read Pratchett. He is very off-the-cuff, it is technically humouristic fantasy, so the emphasis is more on the punch-line than on world-consistency. But over the last 20 books he really has just gotten exponentially better. He tackles topics from a very human perspective.

I'm not going to babble on about him, just read him. Small Gods is a good place to start, but so are all the others. ;}


Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides (upsight) | 542 comments Bee wrote: There should be a word for the warm fuzzy feeling you get when reading a well crafted sentence.

There's probably a better term for it, but I just call it "the word-happiness." And yes, Pratchett gives it to me sometimes, and so does Miéville in this book.


Catherine (catjackson) Snail in Danger (Sid) wrote: "Bee wrote: There should be a word for the warm fuzzy feeling you get when reading a well crafted sentence.

There's probably a better term for it, but I just call it "the word-happiness." And yes,..."


I like what you call it, "word-happiness". It's a sense that words matter, that language matters, that syntax matters, that it's all important for communicating meaning. That's the feeling I get from Mieville. If that's the way Pratchett deals with words and language, then, yes I've got to get some Pratchett too! I got the feeling, though, that Mieville wasn't as comfortable with mystery. This was a little stilted at times, almost stereotyped.


Veronika KaoruSaionji (KaoruSaionji) | 76 comments This is my first read from Mieville and interesting for me. I love idea of invisible parallel city, because I am from Czech republic and there are some legends about invisible streets (or "city") in Prague, our capital city, which can be only sometimes seen (and visited as sort of dream world which really don´t exist, or do it?). I love it. :o)
I never imaginated that this "invisible city in our capital city" can be part of other country, similar as two parts of Berlin in cold-war´s era. Superb!
But, the main plot was a little weak for me. Usual mystery about murder, nothing special.
But I will try to read King Rat by Mieville and maybe start love his novels. :o)


Peggy (psramsey) | 294 comments I have to confess, I was underwhelmed by TC&TC. I mean, I appreciate the imagination that went into it, and the writing is beautiful - I can totally see why people love it. But in the end, it didn't make me care - I wasn't compelled to keep reading. In fact, I came close to putting it down a couple of times. To me, Mieville wasn't telling the story I wanted to read. I didn't care about the mystery, but I was burning to know more about the cities and how they came to be split, and how the people managed to "unsee." I wanted to know how everything worked and who/what Breach was, and ahh - all we kept getting was more mystery.

Normally, I like a story that just plops me down in the middle without explanation (it's one of the things I love about Roger Zelazny), but this one just frustrated me.


Esther (eshchory) | 40 comments I was enthralled by TC&TC and as I was reading it felt it is one of the best books I've read in a long time.
I felt the 'reveal' on the 2 cities was just right intriguing me without confusing, explaining as part of the story with no info-dump and the references throughout were subtle without being too obscure.
I liked Tyador Borlu and although I agree there wasn't much in depth characterization it was enough for me to really connect with him.
The end was a little weak but I skimmed as I was to impatient to find out what happened when I was both ill and busy so a reread of the last part is in order.

*****Spoiler****
My jaw dropped when Breach actually appeared. I was sure they didn't actually exist.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Perdido Street Station (other topics)
Un Lun Dun (other topics)
The Scar (other topics)
Looking for Jake (other topics)
Embassytown (other topics)