The City in the Middle of the Night

The City in the Middle of the Night

Book - 2019 | First edition.
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January is a dying planet, where humanity clings to life in two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk. Sophie serves coffee at an underground cafe, staying in the shadows and listening. She does not draw attention to herself for one simple reason: Sophie is supposed to be dead. When a nationalistic revolution forces Sophie from her safe haven, she must make a dangerous journey to a new city, one that revels in hedonism and chaos. After joining up with a band of smugglers, she finds herself close to the truth of her entire world-- and to the dangers that lurk even in the light of day.
Publisher: New York :, Tor/Tom Doherty Associates,, 2019.
Edition: First edition.
Branch Call Number: SCIENCE FICTION
Characteristics: 366 pages ;,25 cm.

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From Library Staff

Cross-species, conceptually rich, different

Fee's pick: CJ Anders realises an amazingly visual and colourful world, balancing action with introspection, great characters and incredible creatures: three cities: one authoritarian, one hedonistic, and one alien. Can all three work together to share resources and avoid climate catastrophe? Win... Read More »

Fee's pick: CJ Anders realises an amazingly visual and colourful world, balancing action with introspection, great characters and incredible creatures: three cities: one authoritarian, one hedonistic, and one alien. Can all three work together to share resources and avoid climate catastrophe? Win... Read More »

An odyssey set on a dying planet with two cities in the only habitable zones. A story that follows Sophie, a reluctant revolutionary, and her story of survival and overcoming prejudice that will ultimately change the world.

An odyssey set on a dying planet with two cities in the only habitable zones. A story that follows Sophie, a reluctant revolutionary, and her story of survival and overcoming prejudice that will ultimately change the world.


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wildeilisrose
Aug 12, 2020

I really enjoyed this book and found it rather touching, in the end. While I did find some things that didn't work (a rather distracting problem with pacing being the chief offender, in my opinion, with an honorable mention going to at least one unhealthy relationship not getting the resolution or closure that I think it deserved), nothing was so poorly executed that it spoiled the rest of the read for me, personally.

What I've taken away from this book is that it isn't an action-packed adventure with a complicated plot, but rather a highly emotional story about people who are living with trauma. It's about how that trauma affects their relationships, their view of themselves, and how they learn to live with it and heal it. Or, at least, *begin* to heal it. You could even say that the planet they live on has endured some kind of trauma itself, and they have to figure out what happened, how it's affecting the lifeforms living there, and how they can possibly fix it. If they can't fix it, can they adapt to live with it?

It's very possible that I'm reading too much into it, or even projecting a lot of my own life experience onto it, but I like to think that it's at least equally possible that this author did a good job of telling a story about trauma and healing. I think that she's incredibly talented, and with enough time she'll develop the skill she needs to improve whatever went wrong for so many readers here in future books.

I say give it a try!

f
fionajay
Jun 17, 2020

Anders has realised an amazingly visual and colorful world, balancing action with introspection, great characters and incredible creatures.

Three cities: one authoritarian, one hedonistic, and one alien. Can all three work together to share resources and avoid climate catastrophe? The answer will astound you.

Nominated for the 2020 Locus Awards; Best Science Fiction.

SCL_Justin Oct 25, 2019

I loved this book and how it gets into societies that need changing (and remembering) and the messy ways that happens. Sophie and Mouth were great viewpoint characters and I appreciated their very different perspectives even as they kept getting pulled together.

l
lindamstew
Sep 28, 2019

Where Anders excels is her world building and in expressing very human experiences and feelings in few words. There are tons of sentences in here that pack a punch and knock the wind out of you.

However, I don't totally know what the plot of this book is supposed to be. It seemed more like a series of events than the plot of a novel. Everything that I would consider to be the main storyline happened in the last 100 pages. Which made the first 250 pages feel like a very long prologue. You need everything that happened in that first 250 pages in order for the last 100 to work, but the pacing and overall structure of the book felt off to me.

l
lemov
Aug 16, 2019

It's hard to recommend this book (this from a sci-fi lover). It has several problems that get in the way of what should have been a good read, given the story's interesting setting. One problem is the slow character development of the two central pairs: too drawn out and superficial, and book-long to apparently resolve. Another problem is the "pace" of the story's development: sometimes brisk but often prolonged. Because of these two problems, I felt that there were many instances where pages could be read quickly or superficially with no loss (except the reader's time). But the biggest problem is that the book ends suddenly, without resolution or a valid reason to leave the resolution left speculative with the reader. It just seems the author is setting us up for the sequel with little interim plot satisfaction. In this sense, it's one of the most in-artful fiction endings I've experienced in a long time. The book has gotten almost uniformly good professional reviews, which I think is explained by the intriguing setting and the author's prior (tho' limited) success. But an excellent work needs much more, and this one doesn't have it. An exacting editor could have done wonders. Not a terrible book, but decidedly mediocre.

I could not get into this story. The characters were annoying and so much rambling made for a boring read.

JessicaGma May 27, 2019

This was very High Sci-Fi for me, so although I finished it, I didn't really care about the characters deeply. Bianca needed a slap, Sophie and Mouth were interesting, but I vastly preferred her first book.

JCLJoshN Apr 26, 2019

Charlie Jane does an amazing job of making the alien feel familiar and the familiar feel alien. Reviews have compared this to Ursula K. Le Guin, and that's spot on, but it also reminded me of Samuel R. Delany's New Wave explorations of relationships in strange societies on strange worlds. This is speculative fiction at its best, wrapping up planetology, biology, and sociology in a web of heartfelt but complicated emotions, spiked with sharp-witted dialogue.

a
athena14
Apr 03, 2019

spoiler
This is mostly the story of several women coping on a strange planet. Sophie blushes every time she encounters a same-sex couple kissing or hugging, though she doesn't seem to know about sex. She utterly adores Bianca, no matter what. I knew there would be a final rejection, but Bianca's calling Sophie, her lifelong, loving friend, "perverted, revolting, a creep" hurt--too much.

c
cnsreader
Feb 26, 2019

It took me a while to get into this one, but by a fourth of the way in, I was kinda hooked! There are a few deep ideas that run throughout this story! We learn near the end that Mouth is the last of her kind, they were killed off in a massacre because they were digging up plants that were needed to protect the native creatures nurseries. So these creatures sent winged-creatures to kill the humans. Mouth’s group knew nothing about how these plants were essential to the newborn creatures.

Another character, Sophie forms an unusual relationship with the native beasts that roam the planet. She learns their history, before and after humans arrived on the planet. She undergoes a surgery that makes her similar to the creatures in that she can pass on memories and feelings with her mind. For both these groups(native beasts & humans) to survive on this inhospitable planet, they need to understand each other. Sophie re-enters the city to begin to change their world.

Some of the relationships between major characters was hard to believe. Really unhealthy relationships. To me it almost affected the story, but the major theme was stronger.

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