Unless you’re reading this book as an anthropomorphized thesaurus, this will be a quick and somewhat easy read for you. If you’re not, you may struggle with a word here and there. While I’m not original in telling you that Mieville is a wordsmith, it should be somewhat of a disclaimer to anyone about to embark on their first Mieville experience.
This is the part where I’m supposed to give you a description of the plot but I started and stopped this section more times than I care to tell you. After perusing many reviews on here, I’ve discovered that many fellow readers have skipped this part as well - it’s just too difficult to give this book a standard summary. Mieville is throwing ideas and developments at the reader from all sides.
One thing I can state after finishing this novel:Boy, was I wrong about Mieville.
The important thing to note is that the novel, while it creates captivating characters and intense situations, is more so about the city itself. The sprawling metropolis of New Crobuzon is front and center in this tale. The level of description is so extensive that I have a hard time believing that this place exists within the author’s head and his head only. The details themselves are so intricate that it almost feels like New Crobuzon must exist somewhere in physical form.
I will say that despite Mieville’s habit for the overly descriptive, I had a hard time envisioning Lin. I couldn’t quite understand a creature that had what seemed to be a fully functioning bug for a head. However, after seeking out an artist rendering, it didn’t really surprise me all that much. Despite creating a world rooted in fantasy, China crafts characters that seem real and relatable to the reader - I never felt like I had been taken out of the story at any point.
There is a scene about halfway through this book that is going to stick with me for quite some time. Without going into a whole lot of detail, it’s one of the more terrifying moments I’ve ever read. A character is about to die at the hands of a merciless monster, hunting for food. The way Mieville describes the events disturbed me deeply, unnerving me in a way I didn’t quite expect. I’ve read a lot of horror books and short stories that are intended to get this type of emotion out of the reader but nothing comes close to this.
I didn’t have all that great of an experience with The City & The City so I know that I eventually have to go back and revisit that one but I’ll save it until I’ve run out of everything else.