The City and the City by China Miéville (Abandoned)

I’ve owned a copy of this book for about two years now. Something about the title makes the book seem so allusive and mysterious. Unfortunately, if you hadn’t already caught on by the title of this post, the mystery alluded me and I abandoned the book at the halfway point.

At this point in the book, the reader is introduced to two cities existing in the same geographical area. I never could tell exactly where Besźel and Ul Qoma are located, although Miéville makes references to Canada and the United States so maybe the cities are located along the borders of these two North American countries. I’m really not sure.

Anyways, these cities function largely as countries and the citizens of each city are taught not to see the existence of the other. Ul Qoma citizens can only see Ul Qoma citizens, infrastructure, and governmental officials while Besźel citizens can only see those items attributed to their own city. The murder of a college student threatens to destabilize this delicate balance.

I cannot pinpoint exactly what about this novel did not work for me. It just felt so long and tedious that I simply could not pick the novel up one more time. I started it late last month but gladly set it aside during finals time. I picked the novel back up on the long journey home but gave up again when I realized that I was forcing myself to read a book I was simply not enjoying.

Others’ Thoughts:

Book Mentioned:

  • Miéville, China. The City and the City. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010. Originally published 2009. Print. 329 pgs. ISBN: 9780345497529. Source: Purchased.
Book Cover © Ballantine Books. Retrieved: May 13, 2012.


  1. I congratulate you on being able to abandon the book! Especially since there wasn’t a specific moment that turned you off but more a feeling. This is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn to do. There’s always that little part inside that feels guilty for stopping because I will have wasted both time and/or money.


    • It’s still very much so an evolving skill, Jenna. I have so many books on my shelves that I’ve started but failed to finish yet cannot seem to officially abandon. One day I will overcome the guilt.


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