Jessica's Reviews > The City of Mirrors

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
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really liked it
bookshelves: werewolvesnvampires, science-fiction, literaryfiction

The grand finale.
The End.

And a very satisfactory ending it was, too. An exciting adventure, with plenty of romance and explosions and tragedy. And it was certainly better than the last one. I have this memory of The Twelve being kind of a slog. I remember being frustrated with the format, where every chapter seemed to be the backstory of a different character, leading up to a quick scene of action before heading into the next backstory. That format is gone here, and the backstory that we do get is just as interesting as the action, if not more so. And I say more so because . . . Well, to be honest, these books are problematic.

I love the story. I love the premise. But basically, thanks to what I will go ahead and call Cronin's "fancy pants writing" (hat tip to my sister for that), I feel like he's convinced us that these books are better than they actually are. They're written in a very literary style, which is (let's face it) unusual for both post apocalyptic and vampire novels. And since these books are so classy, and written so fancy, he lulls us into thinking that there's no way that there could be a plot hole. Or that a character might be two-dimensional. I honestly started to think it was my fault that the science didn't make sense, and that I just couldn't empathize with the one character at all. And then I thought, Wait, isn't it the writer's job to make me care about the characters? Isn't it the writer's (or possibly the editor's) to make sure that the science doesn't take hugely illogical leaps? The book has a winning combination of science and magic going on, which is great until he breaks his own rules. Which is . . . frustrating as a reader and a writer.

I loved the characters. (Except for Alicia, I know she's supposed to be this amazing heroine but . . . nope. Never liked her. Cronin's in love with her, but I see no reason to be.) I was anxious about what was going to happen. Would our heroes save the day? Would mankind survive? After three books and probably around 1,500 pages I was ready for the payoff. And I got it. I got the ending I wanted, though it came about in delightfully unexpected ways. But again, frustration, because at times there were leaps over years and sudden bursts of magic that left the characters themselves shrugging over what had happened, in order to get to that great ending. Now, with three books and so many pages to work with, I would imagine that Cronin could have laid more groundwork so that this ending could have come about more organically. I guess I was supposed to be so dazzled by his prose that I didn't notice, but I did.

So overall I loved the series, and I think it's going to up there with the best of Stephen King and the like. But I guess I just need to point out that this is not a perfect book.

On a side note, this book contained something that I'm becoming increasingly aware of in futuristic fiction that I find amusing. That is: the few salvaged books that have survived the apocalypse are 19th century classics by white male authors. Why is it, when the world falls apart, all that is left is Tolstoy? Melville? Dickens? Shakespeare? I swear, if people aren't finding comparisons between their own lives and Moby-Dick, then it's Hamlet. (And the Shakespeare reference is ALWAYS Hamlet! How about a zombie outbreak comparison to Much Ado?!)

Do you know what books will actually be so ubiquitous that they'll be in every Postapocalyptic Library? Harry Potter. Twilight. The Fault in Our Stars. The Hunger Games. But if we must throw in a classic, how come nobody ever finds a copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and compares their life to it? Or One Hundred Years of Solitude? And how come nobody in the future ever thinks that Narnia is real, or that Percy Jackson is scripture? And what's happened to all the James Patterson books? I mean, seriously: he puts out roughly twenty books a year! Some of them must have survived! Or Agatha Christie? How about some Michael Crichton, for heaven's sake! John Grisham, maybe?Nobody ever finds a copy of Dracula, which would be a better comparison than War and Peace. Or Interview with the Vampire. Maybe we're all hoping to rebuild society on a solid foundation of British Literature, but let's face it: we're far more likely to be teaching our future generations to read using Diary of a Wimpy Kid than A Tale of Two Cities.
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Reading Progress

April 7, 2016 – Shelved
April 7, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
June 3, 2016 – Started Reading
June 9, 2016 – Shelved as: werewolvesnvampires
June 9, 2016 – Shelved as: science-fiction
June 9, 2016 – Shelved as: literaryfiction
June 9, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Elliott (new)

Elliott Sipple Ah! I loved your last paragraph! I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, is undoubtedly one of my favorite books.

message 2: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Shumate There's also that box of bodice-rippers in the first book.

Kevin Beck My biggest issue is the amount of time between books. When reading "The Twelve" I had trouble keeping up with characters since it had been two years since I had read it. I would have enjoyed these books more if I had waited until they were all published and read them back to back.

Jenn No love for Catch-22 or Hitchhiker's Guide or Their Eyes Were Watching God? My books of all books? ;) I fully agree with you!

message 5: by *Amelia* (new)

*Amelia* The thing with all the classic books in the future is something that's always bugged me too. I have a theory that this might be something to do with copyrights and such, not being alowed to publish names of the more current books, but really I know nothing about publishing, so this may be entirely inaccurate.

Jessica You can totally name drop another book without it being a copyright issue. Also, you can describe the book or the cover (to be more coy). But I swear, people just pick the most pretentious classic they can find to keep bringing up in sci fi, so that they can compare their book to War and Peace or whatever.

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