I had previously read Perdido Street Station and found it to be too fantastic, so I was hesitant to download this. The City & The City, however, is very realistic, although with an interesting twist. Taken as a gritty detective novel, the plot is well done, suspenseful, and has some interesting turns.
The atmosphere is augmented by the cultural backdrop. It's not clear exactly where the setting is, but is has a distinct Eastern European, bordering on Middle Eastern, color.
The cultural details that arise from the unique relationship between the two cities in the story are very insightful. The willingness of people to "unsee" others and to submit to a seemingly omnipotent agency recall Eastern European, Communist era politics.
Overall, a very interesting and enjoyable book. The narration is very good. The characters could be a little deeper, and the underlying principle of the two cities is a little difficult to buy into completely. Still, the atmosphere draws you in, and the plot keeps you interested.
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