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The City in the Middle of the Night

(The City in the Middle of the Night)

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  8,495 ratings  ·  1,621 reviews
Would you give up everything to change the world?

Humanity clings to life on January--a colonized planet divided between permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other.

Two cities, built long ago in the meager temperate zone, serve as the last bastions of civilization--but life inside them is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelan
Hardcover, 366 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Tor Books
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Charlie Anders Hey, I'm sorry I didn't answer this question sooner. Somehow I didn't see it! The answer is, this book is a standalone. No plans to write any more boo…moreHey, I'm sorry I didn't answer this question sooner. Somehow I didn't see it! The answer is, this book is a standalone. No plans to write any more books in this universe, whatsoever. That said:
1) There's a short story that follows a couple of the supporting characters and shows what happened to them after the book ended. It's going to be published online (for free) in February.
2) This book has been optioned as a TV show by Sony and Mom de Guerre Productions, and if the show actually gets on the air, we would definitely try to continue the story after the end of the book. (If the show lasts more than a couple seasons.)(less)
Rita Marie It's billed as adult, but I thought it felt very much like a YA book. Some lead characters are "in school," whatever level of schooling that might be.…moreIt's billed as adult, but I thought it felt very much like a YA book. Some lead characters are "in school," whatever level of schooling that might be. (less)

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Average rating 3.52  · 
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 ·  8,495 ratings  ·  1,621 reviews

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Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
I probably would have DNF’d this book if I wasn’t reading it for the Tome Infinity Readathon. While I think the writing was beautiful at times, I don’t get what the story was trying to tell me. This standalone feels incomplete and honestly, like barely anything happened. Conflict is resolved in a single chapter and we move on to the next thing, which makes everything feel like there’s no stakes. There is implied romantic tension between two characters that ends up in the last minute being unrequ ...more
When I first read this book about a year ago, it left me baffled and irritated. It had potential but kept failing to live up to it. But I did not have much choice but to finish it — I was stuck on a long flight (ah, those carefree pre-Covid times), and my other reading entertainment would have been the in-flight magazine.

Then recently I saw that it was a Hugo nominee, and realized that for the life of me I could not recall what it was about. Maybe it was jet lag, I thought. Maybe I should give
Charlie Jane Anders writes prose that is infused with imagination, compassion, heartache, and a deep exploration of what makes us human. The City in the Middle of the Night is a huge departure from her first novel, All the Birds in the Sky, in almost every way: tone, rhythm, subject matter, milieu; but what the two novels share is Anders’ transporting, invigorating confidence as a storyteller. Anders trusts her audience to follow her as she spins a tale that unfolds with precision, presenting wh ...more
Charlotte May
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
“We measure the freedom of human beings by their ability to change with their environment. The only truly alien influence is the dead grasping fingers of our own past.”

I’m trying to expand my horizons by reading more Sci Fi. But this did not float my boat. There were some pearls of writing, but that didn’t make up for the rest.

Two POVs. Sophie, in love with her best friend Bianca takes the fall for Bianca’s mistake and ends up cast out into the never ending night. Bianca thinks Sophie is dea
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
I received an advanced reading copy of The City in the Middle of the Night through a Goodreads giveaway. I was excited by the premise, and looked forward to reading my first Charlie Jane Anders story. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the experience.

I think The City in the Middle of the Night was aiming a little for a The Left Hand of Darkness feeling. Admittedly, I was primed for this comparison by a promotional quote on the back. However, I think the comparison of two anthropologically different
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm caught in gravity's tug. I'm stuck between two massive bodies forever tidally locked. ; ;

You know those books that have that certain something that could make them truly great but then they stumble because of the characters within them?

Yeah. This is one of those novels. I can see and appreciate where the author is trying to go here with the characters so full of themselves, their ideals, or their misunderstandings of one another. It fits so nicely with the greater misunderstandings between t
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not since 2018's Blackfish City by Sam J Miller has a novel captured my imagination and enveloped me in a complete shroud of the other worldly as The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders by virtue of its intricate and epic world building.

Set many years into the future, mankind has taken to the stars in search of a new home. In January, they've found one, but the planet has a dark side; one which bathes half its surface in perpetual darkness while the other endures a never endi
Holly (The GrimDragon)
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
"I close my eyes and imagine that when I open them again I will have outgrown all of my feelings. Sometimes I clasp my eyelids until I almost see sparks."

Well.. fuck.

I'm a quick reader, this book isn't that long to begin with.. yet it derailed some of my TBR plans because it was seemingly endless. It just felt like a fucking slog to get through at times!

Unfortunately, this feels like an incredibly ambitious story that just didn't come together fully. It wasn't given enough room to breathe. It's
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
3.5 stars

I was a huge fan of Anders' debut novel, All the Birds in the Sky, and so I was really excited to read her new book. The City in the Middle of the Night is absolutely and completely different in every way. I'll be honest, it did take me awhile to warm up to it, but by the end, I was pretty much sold.

I did for the most part enjoy Anders' writing, and I liked the general idea of the story. However, I found the first half a bit difficult to engage with. I had a bit of trouble with the inc
Matthew Quann
Compared with the fast-paced, kinetic, and campy All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders opts for a more languid and slow approach in The City in the Middle of the Night. This book was a struggle to get through for the majority of the read. Anders’ two leads, Sophie and Mouth—*sigh* yes, Mouth—spend a good portion of the book wallowing in their respective trauma. It’s not that these narratives are inherently boring, but Sophie’s endless deferral to the entitled Bianca rarely felt like exci ...more
Daniel B.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This book manages to do everything well, without doing anything exceptional. It is like a solid dome. There are no real weak points, but nothing stands out to the reader. I do not regret reading it, but I am left wanting something more.

The most glaring weakness The City in the Middle of the Night suffers from is asking so many questions, without providing many satisfactory answers. The framing of a codependent relationship also became a bit... bothersome to deal with.

The strongest point of the
Jan 25, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 5000-2021
I absolute loved this author's first book All the Birds in the Sky so I was quite shocked when I started this one and just could not get into it. After a few chapters I put it away and a couple of days ago decided to give it another try.

This time I was prepared for the start and although it still did not grab me I persevered. It was worth it. After a while I got into the story and the characters and I ended up finding it quite enjoyable. The world building was intriguing and so complicated it wa
Wow. This book. All the stars. This is a science fiction novel steeped in the politics and prose of relationships. Humanity has arrived on a cold, tidally-locked planet, January, with searing sun rays on one side and constructed societies of survival in different pockets on the dark side of the planet with different rules and regulations. Trade has suffered and many ethnic communities perished on the generation ship on the way to January; the remaining society's class structure is still based on ...more
Mary Robinette Kowal
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
This was a completely fascinating, fully realized world full of deeply flawed characters. I loved the hope that came out of damage and also kept wanting to take Sophie and Mouth away and ply them with tea and warm blankets.
Nicky Drayden
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Geeky. Weird. Awesome. Ticked all my boxes.
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The layers. Oh the layers.

4.5 stars

I almost didn't read this, but then it was a Hugo Award finalist, and I'm so glad I changed my mind. The City in the Middle of the Night has some of the most interesting worldbuilding I've read in a while, character dynamics that deeply appeal to me, and writing so beautiful I could cry.

At its heart, this is a story about a toxic relationship between two women, the kind of toxic relationship queer women in a heteronormative society are intimately familiar with:
Bonnie McDaniel
This book has an interesting concept, but the execution is....less so. This tale of a human settlement on a tidally locked planet (half in white-hot killer sunlight, half in frozen dark wastelands, with only a narrow center strip of habitable land) with slowly decaying technology, failing crops, changing climate, governmental upheavals, and deadly encounters with the native species, could have been an exciting adventure story in the right hands.

Unfortunately, that isn't this book.

There are a l
Allison Hurd
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fem-author, scifi
That was a refreshingly good story! Charlie Jane's niche seems to be books for YA audiences that break the mold.

CONTENT WARNINGS: (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The main characters. I love that we see different experiences of womanhood, friendship, belief, trauma and love through these women. They felt multi-layered and complex, but also relatable. I th
Susan Kennedy
This one really took me some time to get through. I really wanted to like it and there were parts that I did enjoy. Overall, it was a bit of a struggle to get through.

The characters were okay. Sophie and Mouth were the better characters while the others were just okay. None of them really stuck with me. I found Bianca to be quite annoying. It was almost as if she had several personalities and it drove me a bit crazy. Other than that most of the characters I found to be forgettable.

The story was
Varlan Georgian
Jan 26, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most stupid books I've ever read. It was like reading a resume of Amonit with stupid characters that have even more stupid motivations, that doesn't transmit any emotion to the reader. ...more
Sep 29, 2020 rated it liked it
A weird reading experience for me where I was so drawn in by the prose that it overcame my general lack of interest in the characters or the plot. I think too much was happening in this book, which made me feel less invested in the book as a whole. That said, I'm definitely interested in trying more from the author, as the writing & world building were very strong ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
It takes longer than you'd expect to figure out what kind of book exactly you're reading when you read THE CITY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. It doesn't follow the rhythms and patterns you might expect, every so often the whole plot gets thrown on its head, and sometimes it seems that the only constant is the small group of characters at its center. But eventually, when the book is done, you can look back on it and see the tapestry it's been weaving all along the way. It's a story of friendship an ...more
Dianne Trautmann
Mar 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
If someone handed me this story and said this is a draft for a book, I would have said that with some polishing and editing and maybe even some rearranging (the end should have been in the middle of the book) I would have said that there was potential for a decent sci-fi story. I feel that several of the named creatures have 'place-holder names' that don't really match up with their brief descriptions.

World building is hard work.
This book was so weird! And yet, I liked it more than I liked her first book, which I just never gelled with. I'm not sure that I liked every bit of this book (hated some of it, actually) but overall it was interesting.

It takes place on a tidally locked planet (a planet that doesn't spin on its axis, so that one side is always in dark and the other in light). The planet is called January, and humans migrated there hundreds of years before on a generation ship. They have inhabited the only place
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This novel was quite different from CJA's "All the Birds in the Sky". The tone is much darker, the struggle of the protagonists much more hopeless.
I was instantly drawn towards one of the MCs, the young insecure Sophie, who's hopelessly in love with the popular Bianca and willing to give everything (sometimes even common sense) up for the wellbeing of her beloved. This YA plot is set in a human society on a tidally locked planet where human life is only possible in the small zone between the ev
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Many centuries in the future a portion of humanity has colonized the tidally-locked planet of January. The colonists live on the thin band of the terminator in perpetual twilight between the searing day and the freezing night. But after centuries the climate is becoming unstable, the space between the two main human cities is becoming more hostile and the native intelligent alien species have their own agenda.

In Xiosphant, a time-regimented city of brutal oppression, Sophie's infatuation with he
Dawn C
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
There were sooooooo many 5-star things I loved about this. Especially the characters Anders has created felt organic and real. They made me laugh and feel with them, and frustrated and hurt me. There was a lot of dialog and moments between them that was deeply affecting and moved me to tears. The ending was absolutely flawless.

But there were unfortunately quite a few moments where I lost interest and struggled to concentrate. For a long time I felt it floundered. I couldn't really see where it w
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh dear. The pace is slow, the prose lovely - I do like the way CJA writes - but I was never won over by the protagonists (or their terrible toxic relationships) and so it felt awfully long. There was so much along the way that intrigued me, except the characters, and this is more of a character study and coming of age than a save the world from political insanity and climate apocalypse story. So much world to explore, with a considered history of two races, but this is set in a time when most o ...more
Elle (ellexamines)
Nov 28, 2018 marked it as tbz
release date: 12 February 2019

me when i was like 12 is shrieking. i love planetary dynamics let me live
Lady H
Jul 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
The City in the Middle of the Night takes great care to develop its characters, character arcs, character dynamics, and its worldbuilding, and pretty much forgets all about having a cohesive plot. The biggest criticism of this book would be that it is meandering and slow. It's not that it doesn't know where it wants to go - now that I've finished, I can step back and see the general plot arc meant to be established here - but it doesn't get there clearly or quickly enough. There's a lot of waffl ...more
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My latest book is Victories Greater Than Death. Coming in August: Never Say You Can't Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times By Making Up Stories.

Previously: All the Birds in the Sky, The City in the Middle of the Night, and a short story collection, Six Months, Three Days, Five Others.

Coming soon: An adult novel, and a short story collection called Even Greater Mistakes.

I used to write for a si

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