The City and the City - China Miéville I find myself with a case of writer’s block regarding the writing of this review. I’m not sure what I want to say about The City & The City.

I suppose my blockage results from a feeling of anticlimax more than anything else – I was expecting more based on the hype and rave reviews surrounding the book. But I’ve seen the theme before – we’re seeing and unseeing, sensing and unsensing things all the time. For example, consider this article at about U.S. prisons. Or consider that I live in Los Angeles and I know that the city I live in is not the same one that my erstwhile students from South Central live in nor is it where the wealthier denizens of my office’s neighborhood (Brentwood & Bel Air) live. And denizens of other cities could say the same thing. Besźel and Ul Qoma are the neurotic extremes of human perception.

This is not to say that I didn’t like the book. I did. I very much enjoyed reading it. The character of Tyador Borlú, the Besźel detective who gets caught up in a murder and conspiracy that involves both cities, is interesting, as was the mystery, which was sufficiently convoluted and not immediately obvious (to me, at any rate). And I was again pleased by the way Miéville trumps expectations – there is no supernatural agency at work or even a super technology – just the normal, if quixotic, self-delusions of the human brain. (He manages a similar upending of expectations in Un Lun Dun.)

And it’s Miéville so the writing can be extraordinary and is always good. Besźel and Ul Qoma may not quite reach the baroque splendor of New Crobuzon but Miéville is an interesting writer and well worth your time.