Marzie's Reviews > The City in the Middle of the Night

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
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it was amazing
bookshelves: arc-paper

4.5 Stars boosted because how I loved some of these characters, omigosh!

One of the most distinctive aspects of Charlie Jane Anders' longer fiction has been her strong character development and luminous world building. While I was less than enthralled with her plot in her debut novel, All the Birds in the Sky, which I felt built a contrived battle between science and magic, her characters Patricia and Laurence were memorable, as was the world they lived in. Anders' imaginative gifts meant that it was only a question of time until she pulled together a plot that fulfilled the promise of those gifts. Well, we certainly have arrived.

The City in the Middle of the Night gives us a memorable world with strong female characters, some of whom are not human. The central protagonist, Sophie, is a young woman seeking to break out of the constraints of her social class, initially by attending an elite academy that will turn out the best and brightest in the city of Xiosphant. Her bravery and infatuation with her roommate Bianca derails that plan and leaves her in what could have been dire straits had her inherent nature- kind, curious, and possibly resigned to her fate- saved her in her encounter with Rose, a Gelet. Sophie's encounter with Rose is literally life changing. In the meantime, we meet Mouth, last member (or so she believes) of a race called the Citizens. Less obviously a protagonist, her story slowly crystallizes into a search for understanding her history and that of her people. The truth of history and Mouth's search for meaning reflects a painful process of growth that parallels that of Sophie's coming of age story.

Anders' strong female characters in this novel are masterfully drawn. We see Sophie and Bianca mature into women who diverge strongly from the anchor point of their friendship. We, along with Sophie, begin to reconsider the limits of love and loyalty. Sophie's evolving understanding of where her true loyalties lie, and the moral boundaries she will not cross was a pleasure to read. While the novel is intended to be adult sci-fi, I feel there is rich writing here for young adults. Sometimes we outgrow our friends, sometimes our affections are spurned, sometimes we have to look elsewhere in life for our purpose, perhaps even in the opposite direction from where we first began our journey. Sometimes, in order to become our truest selves, we become something else entirely.

This is easily the best writing of Charlie Jane Anders I've yet read and I am excited to see where she goes from here.

I received a paper review copy of this book from Tor Books in exchange for an honest review.
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Reading Progress

August 18, 2018 – Shelved
August 18, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
February 24, 2019 – Started Reading
February 26, 2019 – Finished Reading
February 28, 2019 – Shelved as: arc-paper

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