So, I gave this 3 stars, and that's not very good. That said, I think this book is probably amazing, but it's just so complicated. Mieville bit off a lot with this exploration of language using aliens. You need to be a reader/listener who can listen to an audiobook attentively enough that you do not miss details. Because I promise you, if you zone out or lose focus, you will have to rewind! For that reason, I feel like this is not a good choice to listen to as an audiobook as opposed to reading as text.
The performance is a little tough for me. The reader is British. I am not British, but I've certainly listened to plenty of audiobooks narrated by British people and enjoyed them. However, in this case, the performance seemed a bit of a British accented drone to me, which made the complex material all that much more difficult to follow in audio format.
My husband and I had long talks after both listening to this book, so despite my negativity here, it is an intellectually stimulating book. If you like Mieville in general you may enjoy this book, but it's not an easy listen.
The author could have showed up in the first 18 chapters.
The Art of War.
I think she was even confused for the first 18 chapters.
The author of the book. Oh, that's right he is not a homonym!
Dry reading. This book should be used as ..... Whom ever thought, "This author thinks out of the box"; sorry. If young readers were to have to read this book in school; no one would ever want to read another book...ever. Tragic.
Very engaging and challenging. The way the author kept the reader in the dark with the use of Language and language. Similes versus metaphors. It's like a puzzle for the reader to solve while being immersed in a story about a human colony on a alien planet. I listened to this as an audiobook. I can't imagine reading this because of terms. After a slow start, it picked up speed because I wanted to learn about the terms that drove the plot. This was a true production for an audiobook and the narrator was superb.
Some need to have everything explained to them with alot of action and movement. This book is like stepping into a real, working culture. It doesnt explain itself, doesnt define its idiomatic expressions or its history to the visitor like a museam exhibit, It just IS and you are left to figure it out. It is like dropping yourself into a foreign country and getting to know it without an interpreter. I loved it.
As you would expect from the China Mieville book, there are some unique and original concepts being presented here alongside the life story of Avice Benner Cho who has a profound and compelling arc. It's excellently narrated by Susan Duerden.
You'll be forgiven for thinking it has a slow start - I only realised about halfway through that Mieville had been subtly exposing me to all the information I'd need later in the book. He's an expert at presenting the reader with the complex concepts surrounding his storytelling without you even realising it. You just find yourself swept along with the story.
This one won't be for everyone - it's much heavier going than something like Kraken - but is well worth it. This is fine example of hard science fiction!
This is a solid, slow pace, well thought out novel. It deals with how language and the brain interact to produce culture, and how alien cultures will have alien languages and will have motivations and desires completely alien to us. It's a first contact novel that takes place hundreds of years later when forces conspire to tilt the careful balance of Embassytown off kilter.
However, it is both dense with ideas and not an engaging writing style. Very interesting; many ideas that you must pay attention to. However, it's narrative didn't carry me away with it. But China Miéville paid good attention to the society and characters of the Embassytown compared to the rest of the galaxy, as well as the alienness of the Hosts and their unique language.
Rated: PG13 for violence, strong despairing situations
Static or Dynamic: Relatively static story; there are strong plot arcs but for the most part the story has a localized concept; it's not an adventure book.
1st or 3rd Person: 1st person female
Abstract or Concrete: Leans more towards abstract. Most of the intrigue of the book is what is hypothesized about the actions that happen. The content is intellectually challenging and thrilling. You really have to think about some of the events to get a real appreciation for the book. large chunks of it are hard science but it's not the purpose of the story.
Linear or Non-Linear: Linear; the story progresses firmly down a timeline and tells a story.
Narrator: The story telling is done quite well. At parts I was a little out of touch with the reader but it's a long book and so that should be expected. Her inflections can become emotional though a lot of the story is her internal dialogue which is "cool".
Plot Outline: In a distant space port on the edge of known hyper-space, a race of creatures has a very unique way of communicating that has shaped the culture and epistemology of the local earthen colony. The story progresses as the unique barriers of the communication become more and more complicated.
Embassytown is a rich, vivid imagining; everything one would expect of China Mieville. It's an intelligent medidation on isolation, and on the power of language to break through (or appear to break through, with many side-effects and consequences) that isolation.
I very much wish I had just picked up the text rather than the audiobook, though. The narrator's overly-dramatic rendering of voices and emotions makes several pivotal moments in the audiobook nearly un-listenable. Her 'Posh Spice' rendering of the protagonist's voice destroys any credibility that character might have had. The narrator also reads certain dialogue with a spitting, acerbic, anger that is completely inappropriate to the text, and has one repeatedly wishing that there were a button to move the track *forward* 30 seconds.
In Embassytown, Mieville once again slips your brain into realms it never could have imagined. Stupendous ideas brilliantly developed. Duerden's narration could not be improved upon.
It's very original, interesting and even suspenseful but the author seems to be obsessed with his treatment of the "language" and the story gets to almost becoming an academic essay in the field of linguistics.