The City in the Middle of the Night
By: Charlie Jane Anders
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
“If you control our sleep, then you can own our dreams…And from there, it’s easy to control our entire lives.”
From the brilliant mind of Charlie Jane Anders (“A master absurdist”—New York Times; “Virtuoso”—NPR) comes a new novel of Kafkaesque futurism. Set on a planet that has fully definitive, never-changing zones of day and night, with ensuing extreme climates of endless, frigid darkness and blinding, relentless light, humankind has somehow continued apace—though the perils outside the built cities are rife with danger as much as the streets below.
But in a world where time means only what the ruling government proclaims, and the levels of light available are artificially imposed to great consequence, lost souls and disappeared bodies are shadow-bound and savage, and as common as grains of sand. And one such pariah, sacrificed to the night, but borne up by time and a mysterious bond with an enigmatic beast, will rise to take on the entire planet–before it can crumble beneath the weight of human existence.
The premise of the novel sounded really interesting and I had All the Birds in the Sky (review) lined up to read at the time so yeah, I picked this book up too. I read this book right after her debut novel.
The book was conceptually interesting: a world at the edge of night with its own world-building, the politics and its teetering towards revolution. The kind of stuff I dig, right? And the first chapter was quite the cracker. But after that opening scene the story plodded rather slowly, and by the time I picked up the book again to continue from where I left off I had no idea what was going on and what came before. The characters didn’t interest me, and I just lost all interest in the plot. The book did however remind me of China Melville’s Perdido Street Station with its crazy unique worldbuilding (didn’t like that book either, so I guess we have a running theme with me there).
By the end of the book I came to the realisation that her books just aren’t for me: they are interesting conceptually but that’s about it, either I need to read the book from start to finish in one sitting as to avoid losing what little momentum I had latched on to when I started or yeah, the characters just don’t intrigue me enough to keep going.