China Mieville creates an incredibly rich world populated with interesting characters and creatures. Very decadent and character driven (at least for the first half). John Lee's narration and character voices are also great.
The phrase "a child of his/her time" is often used to excuse a person in history's behaviour and to deflect from looking deeper into their character and nature. In this book however, I think the concept of being of a certain time, and what this can mean in the different contexts of individual life stories, is brilliantly explored in the portrayal of two young people living a seemingly very typical North American life in the fifties.
Yates renders intricate, unforgivingly blunt portraits of Frank and April Wheeler as they try to navigate their lives around societal expectations and norms, repressed hopes and dreams and their own and each others deep personal flaws. As both people increasingly relinquish their individual ideals in order to reach the promised land (as they see it) of Europe, where both are sure that their lives will finally come into fruition, the desperation that lies at the heart of this novel becomes more and more apparent, until it culminates in a horrific ending - an outcome composed equally of the failings of a particular society at a particular time, and of the timeless, flawed and weak nature of humanity.
Mark Bramhall does a solid job narrating this audiobook. Without going over the top, he manages to give each character a distinct voice and conveys the subtlety of the characters' emotions and interactions very well.
I'd listened to Perdido Street Station and absolutely loved it - what I liked about it were the broad variety of characters, how they developed and interacted, and also the characters, creatures and stories apart from the main plot that sketched out Mieville's fantastic world. In comparison to that, The City & The City is very minimalistic and plot driven, qualities I don't much enjoy. The two cities never really came alive for me, the way Bas Lag did. I'm sure it is a great listen for people who like detective novels, but it wasn't for me.
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