The City in the Middle of the Night
"If you control our sleep, then you can own our dreams... And from there, it's easy to control our entire lives." 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 City in the Middle of the Night Details

TitleThe City in the Middle of the Night
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 12th, 2019
PublisherTor Books
ISBN-139780765379962
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Adult

The City in the Middle of the Night Review

  • Anthony
    January 1, 1970
    Charlie Jane Anders writes prose that is infused with imagination, compassion, heartache, and a deep exploration of what makes us human. The City in the Middle of the Night is a huge departure from her first novel, All the Birds in the Sky, in almost every way: tone, rhythm, subject matter, milieu; but what the two novels share is Anders’ transporting, invigorating confidence as a storyteller. Anders trusts her audience to follow her as she spins a tale that unfolds with precision, presenting wh Charlie Jane Anders writes prose that is infused with imagination, compassion, heartache, and a deep exploration of what makes us human. The City in the Middle of the Night is a huge departure from her first novel, All the Birds in the Sky, in almost every way: tone, rhythm, subject matter, milieu; but what the two novels share is Anders’ transporting, invigorating confidence as a storyteller. Anders trusts her audience to follow her as she spins a tale that unfolds with precision, presenting wholly original ideas, new and beautiful life forms, and chillingly extrapolated and corrupt societies. Her vividly drawn characters travel into the deepest and darkest nooks and crannies of human experience, teetering on the brink of despair and almost succumbing to trauma, but somehow always struggling to survive, to find connection and love. Anders’ wild and brazen and dire visions of what life on a desolate and doomed planet could look like at times mix the anarchic violence of Mad Max with Ursula K. Le Guin’s humane and complex anthropological inventiveness. There’s a tremendous amount of darkness, real and metaphorical, suffusing this novel, but there is also an abiding hope that maybe, just maybe, the deeply flawed and damaged people who inhabit it can find their way into the light.
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  • Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    I'm caught in gravity's tug. I'm stuck between two massive bodies forever tidally locked. ; ;You know those books that have that certain something that could make them truly great but then they stumble because of the characters within them?Yeah. This is one of those novels. I can see and appreciate where the author is trying to go here with the characters so full of themselves, their ideals, or their misunderstandings of one another. It fits so nicely with the greater misunderstandings between t I'm caught in gravity's tug. I'm stuck between two massive bodies forever tidally locked. ; ;You know those books that have that certain something that could make them truly great but then they stumble because of the characters within them?Yeah. This is one of those novels. I can see and appreciate where the author is trying to go here with the characters so full of themselves, their ideals, or their misunderstandings of one another. It fits so nicely with the greater misunderstandings between the Gelids and humanity... but I have to say that the fundamental concept here is much, much easier to take than the execution. The bad part of this novel: Every time I wanted to find some truly great aspect of personality or plot push to latch my hopes on, I was faced with regular people doing stupid things for regular stupid reasons, muddying the waters and generally being jerks to one another. I didn't particularly like any of the main characters except, perhaps, Mouth. And then the good:Everything else!This is the definition of uneven for me. I can appreciate, intellectually, what is going on, but when you can't hang your consciousness on great characters to move you along a MUCH better worldbuilding experience, it becomes something of a drag. In fact, I became so invested in the plethora of great ideas that I kept re-writing the book in my own mind to fly with them in new ways, extending dichotomy between the hurting human city and the alien, maligned Gelids living everywhere in the dark, being tentacular monsters, but also BETTER PEOPLE than those inside the human habitations. :)It's not just that, though. I loved the tidally locked planet, all the darkness and the need for other perceptions, the communication through tentacles, the transformations, the culture, and everything else about the SFnal experience. I FELT like this novel could have been one of the greats. It certainly has all the deep explorations of culture, aliens, and setting, giving us a very dark look at a far-future humanity with a lot more to think about than is generally the case. Classic SF always did a pretty good job of this but sometimes a novel or two drills down DEEPER. And this is one.So I'm caught between a solid 3-star read for characters modified by a cool mirroring with the theme and a very solid 5 star SFnal novel. ; ; This isn't much like All the Birds in the Sky, alas, but I'm very curious to see what she'll come up with next.
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  • Josh
    January 1, 1970
    Not since 2018's Blackfish City by Sam J Miller has a novel captured my imagination and enveloped me in a complete shroud of the other worldly as The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders by virtue of its intricate and epic world building. Set many years into the future, mankind has taken to the stars in search of a new home. In January, they've found one, but the planet has a dark side; one which bathes half its surface in perpetual darkness while the other endures a never endi Not since 2018's Blackfish City by Sam J Miller has a novel captured my imagination and enveloped me in a complete shroud of the other worldly as The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders by virtue of its intricate and epic world building. Set many years into the future, mankind has taken to the stars in search of a new home. In January, they've found one, but the planet has a dark side; one which bathes half its surface in perpetual darkness while the other endures a never ending cycle of daylight.There is so much to like about this novel; complex and well defined characters, interesting and dangerous landscapes (both political and physical), and some serious cool biological science fiction. The only downside is that the story had to end somewhere; both good and bad, as it left me wanting more.My rating; 4/5 stars. I really like this novel and have my fingers crossed we'll see more of Sophie, the Gelet, and others (who I won't mention as to avoid spoilers).
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  • Jamesboggie
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advanced reading copy of The City in the Middle of the Night through a Goodreads giveaway. I was excited by the premise, and looked forward to reading my first Charlie Jane Anders story. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the experience.I think The City in the Middle of the Night was aiming a little for a The Left Hand of Darkness feeling. Admittedly, I was primed for this comparison by a promotional quote on the back. However, I think the comparison of two anthropologically different I received an advanced reading copy of The City in the Middle of the Night through a Goodreads giveaway. I was excited by the premise, and looked forward to reading my first Charlie Jane Anders story. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the experience.I think The City in the Middle of the Night was aiming a little for a The Left Hand of Darkness feeling. Admittedly, I was primed for this comparison by a promotional quote on the back. However, I think the comparison of two anthropologically different societies explored by an outsider who is abused by both is similar. I had a similar feeling of trying to find what was important in the story until the pieces fell together near the end. I was disappointed that Circadianism and anarchy/rule by organized crime were not explored with the same level of depth or detail as Le Guin would have in her stories.There are many science fiction elements in this story. In no particular order, I noticed: -after Earth -planetary colonization -tidally locked planet -inhuman intelligent species/civilization -severe climate change -anthropological elements like CircadianismStill, it feels a lot like a fantasy novel. People live in city state surrounded by wilderness. Said wilderness is filled with monsters. Society is shaped by declining technology, leaving the past almost mythological and old technological like ancient magic.As I said, for much of the story the point was not clear. The science fiction elements were kept mostly as background to a very personal human story. That kind of story can be great, especially when the science fiction elements are used to explore common human themes in new ways. The problem is that I disliked or hated all but one major character. The protagonist, Sophie, was a mostly passive protagonist with an unearned sense of self-righteousness and an inaccurate reputation for great intelligence. Her all-but-explicit lesbian lover Bianca is a naive, selfish, manipulative girl hellbent on gaining power at all costs. Alyssa is a violent criminal ready to throw her lot in with anyone who will give her a fight, and she constantly picks the wrong person. Anders writes each of these three characters as if the reader should like them. I cannot recall a greater difference between how characters present each other and what the reader witnesses in any story. Sophie is called intelligent and virtuous, but continually makes stupid decisions that should by any right get her killed and do get others killed. Alyssa is treated like a smart and loyal friend, but constantly tears down her all-but-explicit lesbian lover. Bianca is presented like an idealistic and hardworking revolutionary until almost the end, when she is obviously just a selfish and manipulative girl. If the difference between presentation and reality was supposed to be a theme of the story, I missed it. The treatment of the fourth character, Mouth, killed any enjoyment I could have gotten from the book. She is the second perspective character, and in my opinion the only likable one. The other characters do not agree. Each constantly tears her down. She is called a liar, a traitor, and a failure by everyone who should care about her. These accusations are all false, but the characters repeat them as if they are true. Characters devalue her interests and desires. Everyone treats her like she has to redeem herself for great sins that I saw her not commit. Apparently Mouth suffered this treatment her entire life, as her dead family told her she was unworthy of a real name (a fact Alyssa repeatedly says she should just get over). It is classic abusive behavior, and Mouth reacts like an abused person. She internalizes the criticism, and breaks down. Anders never acknowledges the abuse, and I simply cannot enjoy reading about someone get abused from an unsympathetic perspective. I always want to be on the side of the abused.I was also distracted by the fact that the two lesbian relationships come just short of being explicit. I do not know why in this day and age, Anders would avoid making a committed relationship of two women who literally sleep together explicit. I cannot believe these characters as anything but lesbian lovers.In the last hundred pages, the elements start to fall together. Sophie and Mouth visit the city of the Gelet, and learn how humans have impacted the environment. It becomes clear that Sophie’s experiences have shaped her to be an intermediary to coordinate these societies toward a solution. The wrapping up almost saved the story.Sadly, the story does not end so much as abruptly stop. It leaves no questions to ponder except “what’s next?” The story is so incomplete that I can only interpret the “ending” as sequel bait. I will not read any sequel.-EDIT 2/20/2019-I got a chance to ask Charlie Jane Anders about the abuse that Mouth suffers. Her answer was not very helpful. I think a fair summation of Anders’ answer is “Mouth was a selfish person at the start, deserved the treatment she received, grew as a result of it, and gained really great friends in Alyssa and Sophie.” I strongly disagree with every point of that answer, and want to briefly give spoilers to explain my view. I will do my best from memory, as I gave my ARC away.Anders called Mouth selfish at the beginning. I could not disagree more. (view spoiler)[Mouth is the last of a cultural group that all died in front of her as a child. She thought every piece of that culture was gone, but then discovers that the last copy of their holy book - the basis of their religion, philosophy, and way of life - is locked in a vault in Xiosphant. I cannot blame Mouth for caring about the last and most important relic of her people. I cannot call her selfish for pursuing it behind the backs of her comrades. I hope I would have the courage to act the same way in Mouth’s shoes. (hide spoiler)]I do not think I have to argue that no one deserves abuse. However, I feel like I have to give an example to demonstrate that the other characters do abuse Mouth. I could write many pages, but I will focus on one type of abuse. (view spoiler)[ Mouth is subjected to false accusations from every other major character throughout the book. Bianca accuses Mouth of using and betraying the rebellion. The reader sees from Mouth’s perspective that she never betrayed the rebellion, and I would argue supporting someone for personal reasons is not the same as using them. Alyssa accuses Mouth of being a bad friend despite the fact that Mouth constantly sacrifices to help her. Sophie accuses Mouth of ruining her life, even though Mouth is the only character that does not contribute to any of Sophie’s failures. False accusations really hurt, especially when they are repeated by everyone you know and care for. (hide spoiler)]Anders claims that Mouth grows as a person for the abuse she receives, but I see no evidence of that. (view spoiler)[ In fact, Mouth suffers a painfully realistic breakdown. She becomes mired in self-loathing. She loses self-confidence. She loses any motivation. She even loses the ability to do things that were her greatest talents, like physically defending herself and those around her. She does not regain her confidence or her abilities before the end of the book. I do not know how anyone could call an ongoing breakdown growth. (hide spoiler)]Anders claims that Mouth gains great friends. This is the easiest point to dispute. Alyssa and Sophie are inexcusably awful to Mouth. I would not stand for that treatment for myself or others. (view spoiler)[Mouth tells Alyssa that she was never given a real name because her family said she did not deserve one. Alyssa effectively responds that Mouth needs to get over it. At the end of the book, when it seems that Mouth’s rescue of Alyssa is going to fail, Alyssa eviscerates Mouth by saying she couldn’t even get one thing right. Sophie never even pretends to be Mouth’s friend. After an entire book of criticizing and demeaning Mouth, Sophie does accept Mouth. However, she only accepts Mouth as her jinx. Sophie tells Mouth directly that Mouth ruins everything in her life, but she will accept Mouth only because pushing Mouth away would cause more problems. None of those interactions are indicative of friendship. (hide spoiler)]I was very disappointed by Anders’ answer. I may pick up a copy only to give more specific evidence for the abuse. Either way, I hope people with traumatic pasts steer clear of this book.
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  • Justine
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars I was a huge fan of Anders' debut novel, All the Birds in the Sky, and so I was really excited to read her new book. The City in the Middle of the Night is absolutely and completely different in every way. I'll be honest, it did take me awhile to warm up to it, but by the end, I was pretty much sold.I did for the most part enjoy Anders' writing, and I liked the general idea of the story. However, I found the first half a bit difficult to engage with. I had a bit of trouble with the inc 3.5 stars I was a huge fan of Anders' debut novel, All the Birds in the Sky, and so I was really excited to read her new book. The City in the Middle of the Night is absolutely and completely different in every way. I'll be honest, it did take me awhile to warm up to it, but by the end, I was pretty much sold.I did for the most part enjoy Anders' writing, and I liked the general idea of the story. However, I found the first half a bit difficult to engage with. I had a bit of trouble with the incredibly toxic relationship between Sophie and Bianca, and that really doesn't change throughout the book. Sophie grows immensely as a character, but her attachment to Bianca foils her over and over. I see now that this whole difficult journey is ultimately part of her process of growth, but it isn't easy to read.The other POV character, Mouth, started out quite unappealing to me, but she did end up changing into someone I felt more compassion for. The second half of the book was much more rewarding for me. While I found the worldbuilding set in the human cities a bit hard to visualize, I thought the sections focused on the Gelet city and culture were very well done.Overall, after a slow start for I ultimately ended up enjoying this book and the unique story it told. My main complaint would be that it ended right at the point when the story became most interesting to me.[T]o join with others to shape a future is the holiest act. This is hard work, and it never stops being hard, but this collective dreaming/designing is the only way we get to keep surviving, and this practice defines us as a community.
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  • Dannii Elle
    January 1, 1970
    Sci-fi is a hit or miss genre for me and, quite honestly, the term 'space opera' just fills me with absolute dread! However, this is also a genre I'm eager to expand my knowledge of. Charlie Jane Anders most recent standalone sci-fi seemed like a great place in which to start.The book centres around a world that does not spin on its axis. One portion is subjected to a bitter, endless night and the other a searing desert plagued by never-ceasing sunshine. However, in the slivers of land that rest Sci-fi is a hit or miss genre for me and, quite honestly, the term 'space opera' just fills me with absolute dread! However, this is also a genre I'm eager to expand my knowledge of. Charlie Jane Anders most recent standalone sci-fi seemed like a great place in which to start.The book centres around a world that does not spin on its axis. One portion is subjected to a bitter, endless night and the other a searing desert plagued by never-ceasing sunshine. However, in the slivers of land that rest between these two states, humans have thrived. Cities have formed but how the governing bodies have chosen each to function is as different as the polarising climates they reside between.What I liked about this novel is that whilst the landscape was vivid and enthralling the characters who wandered its plains shared woes and strifes that made them relatable to a contemporary reader. Their social politics were no different to that in any other contemporary novel and it formed a large part of my connection to the futuristic landscape. I also appreciated how each perspective broadened our perspective of this world, without making any lengthy explanations necessary. As part of an Instagram tour, I was lucky enough to pick the author's brains about this concept and find out some more info about the book itself:Q. The book features a world divided by its severe boundaries of day and night, light and dark. Are the governing bodies that rule the world, and the characters that feature within it, as easy to define and categorize?A. I am always a huge fiend for stories about oppositions and dichotomies. Like how All the Birds in the Sky is about magic vs science, for example. I love stories of people who are caught between two extremes. In The City in the Middle of the Night, there's night and day. There's also two human cities: Xiosphant, the City of Clocks, and Argelo, the City That Never Sleeps. And the political conflict between the two of them becomes a major part of the book.I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Charlie Jane Anders, and the publisher, Titan Books, for this opportunity.
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  • Holly (The Grimdragon)
    January 1, 1970
    "I close my eyes and imagine that when I open them again I will have outgrown all of my feelings. Sometimes I clasp my eyelids until I almost see sparks."Well.. fuck.I'm a quick reader, this book isn't that long to begin with.. yet it derailed some of my TBR plans because it was seemingly endless. It just felt like a fucking slog to get through at times!Unfortunately, this feels like an incredibly ambitious story that just didn't come together fully. It wasn't given enough room to breathe. It's "I close my eyes and imagine that when I open them again I will have outgrown all of my feelings. Sometimes I clasp my eyelids until I almost see sparks."Well.. fuck.I'm a quick reader, this book isn't that long to begin with.. yet it derailed some of my TBR plans because it was seemingly endless. It just felt like a fucking slog to get through at times!Unfortunately, this feels like an incredibly ambitious story that just didn't come together fully. It wasn't given enough room to breathe. It's certainly well-written and the premise is rad as hell, but nothing grabbed me by the throat and resonated with me. The characters were unbearably dull and even though there were two f/f relationships which I was wicked excited for, they were lacking any genuine connection. There was no passion or chemistry.Listen.I truly do not like writing less than stellar book reviews. I am not about shitting all over something. However, I believe in being honest and sharing my own personal thoughts. I like to believe that I'm transparent in that sense. If I'm promoting a book, it's because I fucking loved it! I'm not doing it because I was given a free copy or I dig the author. I'm still salty about an off-screen death from my beloved Joe Abercrombie and I WILL TELL YOU AS MUCH!!Oof.I'm rambling. Again.Basically, what I'm trying to say is, no one is perfect. It's healthy to have a critical eye when it comes to things. The good and bad parts. As much as I adore CJA (her old columns on io9 were EVERYTHING) I just.. didn't love The City in the Middle of the Night. Even though I desperately wanted to.I was talking to my friend Beth about this book since she was also reading it. We both felt incredibly similar. We are huge fans of Charlie Jane Anders and were stupid pumped for this book, wanting it to be incredibly successful for her because she is such a rad individual.. yet it was just lacking something.The City in the Middle of the Night is one that SO MANY people, especially YA readers, will love. But it just wasn't for me.(Thanks to Tor Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!)**The quotes above were taken from an ARC & are subject to change upon publication**
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  • Daniel Greene
    January 1, 1970
    This book manages to do everything well, without doing anything exceptional. It is like a solid dome. There are no real weak points, but nothing stands out to the reader. I do not regret reading it, but I am left wanting something more. The most glaring weakness The City in the Middle of the Night suffers from is asking so many questions, without providing many satisfactory answers. The framing of a codependent relationship also became a bit... bothersome to deal with. The strongest point of the This book manages to do everything well, without doing anything exceptional. It is like a solid dome. There are no real weak points, but nothing stands out to the reader. I do not regret reading it, but I am left wanting something more. The most glaring weakness The City in the Middle of the Night suffers from is asking so many questions, without providing many satisfactory answers. The framing of a codependent relationship also became a bit... bothersome to deal with. The strongest point of the series comes from the authors vision. Charlie Jane Anders clearly has an incredible mind for fiction. Tons of great ideas make up the stories setting, but that well built world just kind of lists around without taking the reader to a substantial end destination.
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  • Nicky Drayden
    January 1, 1970
    Geeky. Weird. Awesome. Ticked all my boxes.
  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    release date: 12 February 2019me when i was like 12 is shrieking. i love planetary dynamics let me live
  • Misha
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. This book. All the stars. This is a science fiction novel steeped in the politics and prose of relationships. Humanity has arrived on a cold, tidally-locked planet, January, with searing sun rays on one side and constructed societies of survival in different pockets on the dark side of the planet with different rules and regulations. Trade has suffered and many ethnic communities perished on the generation ship on the way to January; the remaining society's class structure is still based on Wow. This book. All the stars. This is a science fiction novel steeped in the politics and prose of relationships. Humanity has arrived on a cold, tidally-locked planet, January, with searing sun rays on one side and constructed societies of survival in different pockets on the dark side of the planet with different rules and regulations. Trade has suffered and many ethnic communities perished on the generation ship on the way to January; the remaining society's class structure is still based on the primacy of the dominant communities. This is the story of Sophie and Bianca, two young women who meet in school and whose personalities are formed in the cauldron of their connection and idealistic dreams. Sophie is spellbound by Bianca, a beautiful girl from the ruling class with bold ideas about how to change the society they are in, intoxicating with outsized personality and revolutionary dreams. Sophie is quietly in love with Bianca, in a society that shuns homosexuality. Bianca bonds with Sophie, but her risky choices set Sophie up to take a fall for her, starting a pattern with the two of them that will replicate with a cyclical clockwork of its own.But when Sophie is cast out and is taken in by a creature her people call the crocodiles and treat like monsters and meat, she begins to question all that she thought she knew.Narrated in the first person from Sophie's perspective, with Mouth's (a renegade from a wandering people who were all wiped out) sections in third person, this book unfolds with a slow burn of growing urgency and illumination.This is a story of ecological consequences, humanity's push and pull for control and freedom, our need to have someone to believe in, how our idea of the person we love may be quite different from the person they truly are, and how it is so hard to admit when we have been betrayed by a person we thought worthy of our trust.Charlie Jane Anders is in peak form in this brilliant, thoughtful novel. This is the kind of science fiction I wait and hope for--the kind of stories that make me think and feel, that leave me quite torn apart and also stitched back together in the end.
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  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    A bit messier than her first (the smash-bang amazing ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY) but in ways that pay great homage to Ursula K Le Guin while pushing hard SF ever further into the future. A tidally locked planet, humanity on the edge of a breakdown, strange creatures and stranger stories.... there’s a lot in here and even when the going gets tough, it’s still well worth the going. Andrew Sean Greer’s blurb on the front is right: CJA is our generation’s Le Guin.
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  • Lindsay
    January 1, 1970
    Many centuries in the future a portion of humanity has colonized the tidally-locked planet of January. The colonists live on the thin band of the terminator in perpetual twilight between the searing day and the freezing night. But after centuries the climate is becoming unstable, the space between the two main human cities is becoming more hostile and the native intelligent alien species have their own agenda.In Xiosphant, a time-regimented city of brutal oppression, Sophie's infatuation with he Many centuries in the future a portion of humanity has colonized the tidally-locked planet of January. The colonists live on the thin band of the terminator in perpetual twilight between the searing day and the freezing night. But after centuries the climate is becoming unstable, the space between the two main human cities is becoming more hostile and the native intelligent alien species have their own agenda.In Xiosphant, a time-regimented city of brutal oppression, Sophie's infatuation with her friend Bianca lands her in lethal trouble and an encounter with an alien. At the same time, the Resourceful Couriers arrive in Xiosphant with Mouth in tow. They're a smuggling group that travels between Xiosphant and the criminal-controlled anarchist city of Argelo and Mouth is one of them, but actually originated with a different itinerant group called the Citizens who were all killed. The situation in Xiosphant is so rigid and fragile that the presence of the Couriers is enough to destabilize the city, so Sophie, Bianca and Mouth all end up traveling from Xiosphant to Argelo with the Couriers. But Argelo is not much better, and the whole world is looking increasingly unstable.I really appreciated this book, but didn't much enjoy it. I didn't like any of the characters much, and the only really sympathetic character (Sophie) is actually a flawed and tragic one for most of the book. The science and sociology of it is top notch and intricate, from the farms on wheels that rotate up towards light and down to avoid the burning force of the direct sun, to the well-realized aliens and their mechanism of communication. There's also a really clever narrative trick where the author is up-front about saying that the book has been translated into English, including proper names into historic English ones, and then describing something with an Earth name (Bison, Crocodile, Lemonade) and then giving it a characteristic that is nothing like those things.But I found the plot deeply unsatisfying and I really disliked the conclusion which felt like it cut off prior to several more necessary chapters.
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    Cities, Colonies, Past, PresentJanuary 14, 2019 We dream of colonizing the stars. Or being colonized. Or simply contacting other sentient beings. We look up on a clear night and reject the ancient notion that we are all alone. We understand too much to accept that.But some of us still insist on it and that insistence could constrain our ability to recognize realities.Charlie Jane Anders has chosen to pursue that particular human blindness as the basis for the situation in her new novel, The City Cities, Colonies, Past, PresentJanuary 14, 2019 We dream of colonizing the stars. Or being colonized. Or simply contacting other sentient beings. We look up on a clear night and reject the ancient notion that we are all alone. We understand too much to accept that.But some of us still insist on it and that insistence could constrain our ability to recognize realities.Charlie Jane Anders has chosen to pursue that particular human blindness as the basis for the situation in her new novel, The City In The Middle Of The Night. Humans live on a world arrived at after long journey from Earth in a ship that is fast becoming the substance of myth. The Mothership is gone, or at least no longer responding to the humans on the surface, and generations have passed as the colony has bifurcated into two urban concentrations of strikingly different organizational style, with a lot of unaffiliated people strewn across the narrow landscape between them.Xiosphant is a cloistered, suffocating city with rigid customs and a strict curfew. It is a walled, ceilinged city within which citizens are directed according timetables and a class structure that reminds one of the fever dreams of old East Bloc nightmares. The other city, Argelo, is more like an open-air bazaar, a libertarian paradise only with the real consequences such a free-for-all would create.Both cities are gradually heading for collapse. Resources are running out, the ability to repair old machinery is disappearing, and the environment itself is becoming more antagonistic.That environment…I mentioned both cities exist on a narrow landscape. That is because the planet, January, is tidally-locked, and only a thin band between dayside and nightside is habitable. A brutal environment dominates on either side of this band. In the Night, the cold is lethal, and the Day will burn.Anders gives us the landscape, the implications, and the inevitable social details layered together with an enviable seamlessness that sinks the reader into the world. The attention to detail never competes with the story and especially not with the characters of the two viewpoint voices.Sophie and Mouth could not appear more different. Sophie is painfully shy, a country girl come to the city of Xiosphant to attend school. Smart but almost pathologically afraid of the world, she falls in love with her roommate, Bianca, who is everything Sophie is not—bright, glamorous, daring, ambitious. And politically daring, bringing Sophie into a world of rebelliousness which turns out to be more talk than action. Mouth, on the other hand, is a nomad, attached to a group of smugglers running between Argelo and Xiosphant, trafficking in unlicensed oddities and sought-after luxuries, anything that can be slipped by the over-regulated barriers of the encased city. Mouth is violent, taciturn, seemingly weary of the world in ways that make her appear an old, cynical survivor.Neither of them are what they appear to be and, more, neither of them are that different. Both outsiders, both needing others to create places for them in which to feel relevant, neither of them really able to fit into their respective societies. In the end, “fitting in” is just a way of saying “self desertion.” As the story proceeds, they eventually reverse roles, Mouth becoming fearful and withdrawn, Sophie turning outward.But outward in an unexpected way.Sophie is arrested for a crime she did not commit but claims responsibility for in order to protect Bianca. Instead of incarceration, though, the police choose to expel her from the city, where by all rights she should die. Instead she meets one of the Crocodiles and learns that the world, January, is not at all what she and everyone else believes it to be.When the colonists arrived, they found life forms. But instead of recognizing them as coequal sapients, the humans decided they were animals, to be hunted and feared and in some cases eradicated. The humans could not go into the Night to discover the cities. There was no shared language, nothing to suggest the possibility of coexistence. Sophie and Mouth had both come of age believing humans to be the only self-aware, tool-making creatures on the planet, and Sophie discovers suddenly that this is all a lie.,Or an undiscovered truth.Sophie and Bianca end up having to flee Xiosphant. Mouth is part of the group that helps them do so, because Mouth uses Bianca for something her companions know nothing about and feels obligated. Because revolution is coming to Xiosphant.On the journey, Sophie and Mouth form an unexpected bond which becomes crucial as the reality of January reveals itself.What Anders uses here is the historical reality of human beings assuming. Imperialists assume they are superior, people assume other species are theirs to use, civilizations assume they are always and everywhere the best. Humans arrive at January—named for Janus, the two-faced god—assuming they will dominate. Like Roanoke, like Providence Island, like Easter Island, like numberless other places humans arrived to conquer and dominate and instead had their insignificance proven to them by time, resource, terrain, disease, and their own politics, the ambitions of those first settlers have become a desperate hanging-on, fingernails shredding.But the addition of an ecological disaster, one created inadvertently by these interlopers, has imperiled the indigenes, and some way must be found to communicate.This is exceptional world-building and great storytelling. Anders portrays how the same characteristics that can make people exceptional are the same ones that can undo us. She seems to be warning us throughout that the danger going forward is in the assumptions we decide to bring with us and leave unquestioned.
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  • Susan Kennedy
    January 1, 1970
    This one really took me some time to get through. I really wanted to like it and there were parts that I did enjoy. Overall, it was a bit of a struggle to get through.The characters were okay. Sophie and Mouth were the better characters while the others were just okay. None of them really stuck with me. I found Bianca to be quite annoying. It was almost as if she had several personalities and it drove me a bit crazy. Other than that most of the characters I found to be forgettable. The story was This one really took me some time to get through. I really wanted to like it and there were parts that I did enjoy. Overall, it was a bit of a struggle to get through.The characters were okay. Sophie and Mouth were the better characters while the others were just okay. None of them really stuck with me. I found Bianca to be quite annoying. It was almost as if she had several personalities and it drove me a bit crazy. Other than that most of the characters I found to be forgettable. The story was different, but there were so many times where it was so drawn out. It felt like it to ages to get to the point. There was always something going on and all of it was a bit confusing at times as well. I don't know, it was just okay for me. A bit of a difficult book to get through, but I never wanted to stop reading it. I did want to know how it ended up. Now the ending, I hated it. It just ended and nothing was really finished. I thought it was a really strange way to end the story leaving it with so many things not answered or completed or something. I don't know, but I found it really odd and unfulfilling at the end. I think I would have given it a solid three star had the ending not been one of those that I loathed.
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    It's tough to review this one without spoilers and still convey the essentials, because the worldbuilding is so unique, so let me give a one-liner first and you can choose to move one: An unqualified recommendation! This is a brilliant story with great characters and plot. AND, yeah, the world Anders creates is hostile, alien, and is written so you are immersed at once.I'll still try to avoid spoilers, but if I fail, all apologies...Great character-driven story set on a tidally locked planet, Ja It's tough to review this one without spoilers and still convey the essentials, because the worldbuilding is so unique, so let me give a one-liner first and you can choose to move one: An unqualified recommendation! This is a brilliant story with great characters and plot. AND, yeah, the world Anders creates is hostile, alien, and is written so you are immersed at once.I'll still try to avoid spoilers, but if I fail, all apologies...Great character-driven story set on a tidally locked planet, January, the target of human colonization, which is also the home of an intelligent civilization of the Genet, who are completely integrated into the forbidding planet's ecosystem. The story focuses on two pov characters, Sophie and Mouth (forever in pursuit of her real name... <-- I especially liked how the *innocent* traveler actions were juxtaposed with the Genet), who are intertwined through many threads and a supporting cast of friends and betrayers. I'm disappointed the story ended, because I hoped we might return to January to see how they all work out.It's more than that, though. Sophie's relationships, both with her own kind and the Genet, delve into the nature of friendship, personal sacrifice, and (for a brief crucial moment) rejection of an idealized, conjured perfection. Sophie's loss becomes our loss, her pain ours. Anders makes you feel it, but the writing is clinical. For better or worse, neither Sophie nor Mouth are ones to second guess their conclusions.Anders's worldbuilding is intricate and convinces, the future history frightens (yet is also hopeful in how the characters respond to adversity), and the alien "persistent mayfly" culture is brilliant in execution. Even before there was writing to make it permanent, humans reserved our culture through storytelling. The Genet keep history alive literally the same way, just to an extreme, because each one experiences everything always. In fact, the book is much about our perceptions of history, because Mouth's tribe also had their version locked in the tower.It's a very disarming book, and you'll think about it after you read it and ask yourself about your tribe's impact on the world, what your history means (the pluses and minuses), and whether it's worth fighting and killing for...I swallowed this book whole and after moving on (but have I really? LOL), I realize I'm still famished. More please. :-)
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  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    It takes longer than you'd expect to figure out what kind of book exactly you're reading when you read THE CITY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. It doesn't follow the rhythms and patterns you might expect, every so often the whole plot gets thrown on its head, and sometimes it seems that the only constant is the small group of characters at its center. But eventually, when the book is done, you can look back on it and see the tapestry it's been weaving all along the way. It's a story of friendship an It takes longer than you'd expect to figure out what kind of book exactly you're reading when you read THE CITY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. It doesn't follow the rhythms and patterns you might expect, every so often the whole plot gets thrown on its head, and sometimes it seems that the only constant is the small group of characters at its center. But eventually, when the book is done, you can look back on it and see the tapestry it's been weaving all along the way. It's a story of friendship and loyalty, of ideals and practicalities, and above all it's a book about love and change and how the two don't always go hand in hand.Sophie is the kind of character I've seen many times and often she sits in the background, always in the shadows while the person she cares about most claims the spotlight, in this story it's her school roommate Bianca, a charismatic activist from a wealthy family. But Sophie is the center of this story more than Bianca ever could be, she is its beating heart, and the book never sees her as anything less than a good person worthy of love and care, not just a plot device. She shares the book with Mouth, the sole survivor of a group of nomads who is trying to escape the pain of her past without knowing exactly what it is she wants from the world.The planet where the story takes place is the focus of a lot of the book, Anders doesn't mind meandering through the story, taking you here and there, exploring the ways groups and cultures have adjusted to a place where one half is always in sun and the other always in darkness. Sometimes I admit to a little bit of impatience, wanting to get to the story already, but in the end the world that Anders built feels so fully inhabited that it serves the story well to let yourself slow down and walk through it with her.Sophie and Mouth will, of course, cross paths and in many ways they are similar characters. They are loyal, willing to sacrifice, looking out for those around them. But the ways they move through the world are drastically different, Mouth is rough and tumble, Sophie is quiet and hopeful. Ultimately they will have to make drastic choices that the people they love may not understand. The things that rang most true to me in the novel were the ways in which the people who care about Sophie and Mouth want them to fit the idea that exists in their head, instead of letting them grow to express who they really are. There is a lot just under the surface (Anders never hits you on the head with it) that resonated with me about love, family, and queerness/identity. I never really knew what to expect with this book but I enjoyed letting it take me along. I read it on audio, liked both readers, and found it pretty easy to follow in that format.
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  • Clara
    January 1, 1970
    This book was sent to me by the publishing house for an honest review.This book was so intriguing and interesting! It reminded me of Brave New World, which is one book I adored. I couldn’t give this one more than 3 stars though, because I didn’t connect with any of the characters. However it was super easy to read and follow, and I believe if you love adult sci-fi you’ll love this one. Also it has two f/f relationships, but they aren’t explicit, which I thought was sad — we need this kind of rep This book was sent to me by the publishing house for an honest review.This book was so intriguing and interesting! It reminded me of Brave New World, which is one book I adored. I couldn’t give this one more than 3 stars though, because I didn’t connect with any of the characters. However it was super easy to read and follow, and I believe if you love adult sci-fi you’ll love this one. Also it has two f/f relationships, but they aren’t explicit, which I thought was sad — we need this kind of representation in today’s lit.
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  • Denise
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 50% Perhaps I’ll try again another day as I understand the second half is better.
  • imyril
    January 1, 1970
    Oh dear. The pace is slow, the prose lovely - I do like the way CJA writes - but I was never won over by the protagonists (or their terrible toxic relationships) and so it felt awfully long. There was so much along the way that intrigued me, except the characters, and this is more of a character study and coming of age than a save the world from political insanity and climate apocalypse story. So much world to explore, with a considered history of two races, but this is set in a time when most o Oh dear. The pace is slow, the prose lovely - I do like the way CJA writes - but I was never won over by the protagonists (or their terrible toxic relationships) and so it felt awfully long. There was so much along the way that intrigued me, except the characters, and this is more of a character study and coming of age than a save the world from political insanity and climate apocalypse story. So much world to explore, with a considered history of two races, but this is set in a time when most of it has been forgotten, so we can’t know about it (until the end, when after the long build it feels like rushed exposition). In the end the pace frustrated and the final act felt completely out of step. This is a book that I will probably find rereads better, now I know what to expect, but I can’t imagine I’ll revisit it. Points for originality and world design, but not for me. Or not for me at this point in time. 2.5 starsFull review to follow. I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Leah Rachel von Essen
    January 1, 1970
    The City in the Middle of the Night is the gorgeous new science fiction novel from Charlie Jane Anders. The novel, which is reminiscent of The Left Hand of Darkness, has exquisite world-building: on one side of the city lies night, dark and frigid, on the other side, day, bright and fiery. Humans have eked out an existence in these tough conditions, but it can be an oppressive one. In a city where even sleep is regulated, Sophie and Bianca have always been a rebellious pair; Mouth is the last su The City in the Middle of the Night is the gorgeous new science fiction novel from Charlie Jane Anders. The novel, which is reminiscent of The Left Hand of Darkness, has exquisite world-building: on one side of the city lies night, dark and frigid, on the other side, day, bright and fiery. Humans have eked out an existence in these tough conditions, but it can be an oppressive one. In a city where even sleep is regulated, Sophie and Bianca have always been a rebellious pair; Mouth is the last survivor of a nomadic culture swiftly dying out. With the help of enigmatic beasts, they will all start to question the past and future of their planet.Anders has written a stunning novel full of female friendship and romance, full of questions about climate change and regulation, full of examinations of politics and the ways the system cycles. It is a slow and patient build, its world-building complex and deep without ever feeling confusing or oppressive, and its mysterious and surrealist turns keep the reader guessing. Sophie, Bianca, and Mouth are complicated, tough heroines who propel the story forward, between their politics and their courage, their risky decisions and their quiet fury. Anders tells a story of the human experience that doesn’t shy away from trauma, hurt, and despair, but that focuses most of all on connection and understanding. Between the action and the darkness, the emotions and the day, Anders’s characters shine out, representing a flawed humanity still full of hope.The City in the Middle of the Night was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019, and it did not disappoint—I will be thinking about this novel and its characters for a long time. It has left me unmoored. I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for a honest review. It comes out from Tor Books on February 12.
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  • Paula Lyle
    January 1, 1970
    This is definitely an interesting premise, but it just doesn't go anywhere. The same people keep being horrible in the same way and the other people always believe they are going to change. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 147 times and it's just boring."This feels like the beginning of a series, but I won't be back.
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  • Sana
    January 1, 1970
    COVERRRR. The answer to when I will get tired of covers featuring cityscapes is never---------'If you control our sleep, then you can own our dreams...And from there, it's easy to control our entire lives.'NEEEEED. THIS BETTER BE GOOD
  • Oleksandr Zholud
    January 1, 1970
    This is the SF novel by Charlie Jane Anders, who won Nebula and Locus and was nominated for Hugo for All the Birds in the Sky. The planet January is tidally locked, which means that one side is scorched with immense heat, while the other is frozen and the life exists only on a thin line between these extremes. There are Earth’s colonists (over 20 generations), living on the line. We start is the oldest city, Xiosphant that has rigid rules, totalitarian commune-like (fixed professions, ten kinds This is the SF novel by Charlie Jane Anders, who won Nebula and Locus and was nominated for Hugo for All the Birds in the Sky. The planet January is tidally locked, which means that one side is scorched with immense heat, while the other is frozen and the life exists only on a thin line between these extremes. There are Earth’s colonists (over 20 generations), living on the line. We start is the oldest city, Xiosphant that has rigid rules, totalitarian commune-like (fixed professions, ten kinds of cash for each category of goods, rules when to work/eat/sleep, how to dress). Young idealists aren’t satisfied with this status quo, and their leader is active and boisterous Bianca. Here we meet our first protagonist-narrator, Sophie, a friend of Bianca, an extremely introverted girl, who is in (platonic?) love with the leader. Saving Bianca, she is punished for a crime she didn’t commit by marching to death outside the city, where she finds an unexpected savior. The second protagonist-narrator is Mouth – a smuggler and the sole survivor of mysterious Citizens – nomad community, which united the planet. She want to know more about her group and finds out that an important source is in Xiosphant. Mouth joins Bianca’s rebels to get to the source. Many adventures ensue.The book is fine but nothing special. It started a bit too ‘girlish’ with all the teenage angst, which I am not a big fan of. It had some strong points in the middle, which raised my overall rating. There is quite a lot of stuff added to make the world more complex, which doesn’t make much sense. For example, each city has its own quite complicated language, which it seems isn’t directly linked to any Earth culture of colonists. It is added mostly to say phrases like: “I pause to draw a toxic breath, the gears of my anger still scraping. And then, I realize. When I spoke Xiosphanti just now, I identified myself as a student, same as always—but I labeled Bianca an aristocrat, my social better. And I used the formal syntax, as if addressing a stranger.”
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    COVER ART !!! ❤❤❤ love love the cover art on this book. The cover art also symbolizes the plot of the book.. Two cities and the people, partially in darkness and light, and the gray in between. The story is told from alternating points of view: Sophie and Mouth. The setting is in the future on another planet. Have you ever had a friend that you loved more than anything? For whom you would sell your soul? That you love maybe more than as a friend? Meet Sophie, a young student living in a city tha COVER ART !!! ❤️❤️❤️ love love the cover art on this book. The cover art also symbolizes the plot of the book.. Two cities and the people, partially in darkness and light, and the gray in between. The story is told from alternating points of view: Sophie and Mouth. The setting is in the future on another planet. Have you ever had a friend that you loved more than anything? For whom you would sell your soul? That you love maybe more than as a friend? Meet Sophie, a young student living in a city that keeps its people enslaved by the rules of time. Mouth is a nomad that travels between the two cities. She has suffered a great tragedy and is looking for meaning for her life. Sophie and Mouth’s lives are intertwined by fate. Will they be able to make the hard decisions necessary to put things in motion to save the world? Or will their efforts be spoiled by their weaknesses? Fantastic writing within the pages of this book, and the plot was riveting. My only issue was with the finale.. it was so very open ended that I hope that there will be a sequel. I am not a wordsmith like Charlie Jane Anders, and I have made every effort to write an objective review of this book. Thank you goodreads giveaway’s for sending me an ARC!
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  • Runalong
    January 1, 1970
    Well I really loved this measured thoughtful look at how colonists have turned their world into a horrible dystopia Full review https://www.runalongtheshelves.net/bl... Well I really loved this measured thoughtful look at how colonists have turned their world into a horrible dystopia Full review ‪ https://www.runalongtheshelves.net/bl...‬
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  • Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    *3.5ishI'm incredibly conflicted on how to rate this book. It's 5 stars for the overall concepts and themes--it's incredible--but the characters? I didn't care for almost all of them and the dialogue/character stories were almost on the annoying side. Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!It's been a hard time trying to collect my thoughts around this book. On the one hand, it's a really fascinating look at a new planet and what it means to be human and a majority female cast, but on th *3.5ishI'm incredibly conflicted on how to rate this book. It's 5 stars for the overall concepts and themes--it's incredible--but the characters? I didn't care for almost all of them and the dialogue/character stories were almost on the annoying side. Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!It's been a hard time trying to collect my thoughts around this book. On the one hand, it's a really fascinating look at a new planet and what it means to be human and a majority female cast, but on the other hand... it's at times a dry, uninteresting story about some highly unlikable characters. The world-building in The City in the Middle of the Night is one of the most interesting parts of the book. I actually wish that there had been more of it because although there is a good amount of explanation, there were still some pretty big gaps in my understanding of the world, and I wish I could have explored it further. Despite that, I still found it extremely intelligent and well-crafted and I certainly commend Anders on creating such a fascinating world.The second most interesting aspect of this book are the 'crocodiles' that most people are frightened of, but that Sophie befriends and the subsequent events that follow. I think this exploration of humanity and the desire to advance society and technology is a truly captivating topic and I wish this book had spent more time on this area than it did on some of the characters and their relationships.If this book was to be judged solely on the two above things I mentioned, it would probably get close to five stars from me, but unfortunately I didn't enjoy other aspects of this book, such as with the characters and their storylines. In general, as I've mentioned in numerous reviews, I have no problems with unlikable characters or narrators. I actually love some books with unlikable characters because, for me, there's something extra special about being engaged in a book and story when you don't even like the protagonist, but you still want to know what they will do and what will happen to them. Sadly, the unlikable characters in this book had very few redeeming factors and were instead rather bland, frustrating, and altogether uninteresting.Before I jump into specifics about some of the characters, I do want to point out that the main characters in this book are all women, and I think that's something worth noting because it's rare when male characters are in such a small role that they aren't even part of the core cast, so I really appreciated that aspect. However, my biggest issues with the characters was their frustrating relationships with one another and their actions. The characters with the biggest roles are Sophie (the first POV we follow), Mouth (the second POV we follow), Bianca, and Alyssa. Sophie acts as one of the main protagonists and is exceptionally difficult to connect with. There are plenty of moments when I can mostly follow her thought process and understand her choices, but there are just as many--if not more--where I cannot for the life of me grasp what she could possibly be thinking when she makes the most horrible decisions. I know characters make dumb decisions sometimes--half the books out there wouldn't exist without that--but Sophie is too unpredictable and hard to follow. The next character is Mouth, who I would say is probably the most relatable and potentially likable character of the bunch. I don't have a lot of frustrations with her overall, but in spite of that I still didn't feel overly connected to her. I cared about what happened to her, but not that much. Still, I appreciated her strength and no-nonsense attitude when it came to some things she did or did not want to do. Mouth's closest friend--who could also potentially be her lesbian partner though it's never explicitly stated--Alyssa, is a character whose strong loyalty to Mouth is something I admire. However, she also seemed very flighty in other regards and her opinions and actions seemed to flip easily. The last brief character I want to mention is Bianca, and that's mainly to say that I couldn't stand her. To be fair, I don't particularly think we're supposed to like her, but since Sophie was so obsessed with her it made it almost unbearable to follow someone so insufferable, ignorant, and selfish. There are other characters in this book that range quite a bit in personality, and some that I liked more than others, such as Barney and Ahmad, but otherwise the remaining characters do not particularly stand out.Overall, my conflicted feelings over this book continue. Parts I genuinely loved and parts I couldn't stand. Because of this, I've ended up somewhere between three and four stars, though probably closer to the three. If you enjoy big themes and the exploration unprecedented worlds, then this might be worth a look for you. I only wish the characters' and their storylines were more interesting.
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  • Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come.
  • Dianne Trautmann
    January 1, 1970
    If someone handed me this story and said this is a draft for a book, I would have said that with some polishing and editing and maybe even some rearranging (the end should have been in the middle of the book) I would have said that there was potential for a decent sci-fi story. I feel that several of the named creatures have 'place-holder names' that don't really match up with their brief descriptions.World building is hard work.
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  • Candice
    January 1, 1970
    This book easily stands with classic sci-fi like Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis series. I actually liked this book BETTER than The Left Hand of Darkness, because I felt like it has more of a plot and the characters are more compelling. The City in the Middle of the Night follows two main characters, Sophie and Mouth, on a planet called January where half the planet is always immersed in sunlight and the other half is always immersed in darkness. This This book easily stands with classic sci-fi like Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis series. I actually liked this book BETTER than The Left Hand of Darkness, because I felt like it has more of a plot and the characters are more compelling. The City in the Middle of the Night follows two main characters, Sophie and Mouth, on a planet called January where half the planet is always immersed in sunlight and the other half is always immersed in darkness. This leads to humans having to live in the twilight/dusk area in the middle of the planet. When Sophie protects her best friend and is exiled into the night, she bonds with the creatures there, who save her life. Mouth is the last of her people and a roaming nomad, never comfortable in one place too long. The novel follows both of these women on their journeys to discover their own humanity and to figure out a way for humans to survive on this planet before it crumbles beneath their weight. I LOVED LOVED this book. It’s so beautiful, it’s wonderfully written, the characters are compelling, the plot keeps you reading, and it examines revolution and humanity in a way that is accessible and lovely. It can absolutely stand next to Le Guin and Butler, and I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys those authors. Charlie Jane Anders just keeps getting better, and I can’t wait to see what she does next!
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