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

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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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    release date: 12 February 2019me when i was like 12 is shrieking. i love planetary dynamics let me live
  • 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.
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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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  • 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
  • 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 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 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 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 third person from the perspectives of Sophie and Mouth, a renegade from a wandering people who were all wiped out, 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Meredith
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed the entwined paths of the two main characters. Anders brings you into the inner lives of her characters who feel like very real, imperfect people. The world and the cultures- human and not- that Anders has created in this book are very rich and distinctive. The structure of the book allowed a lot of discovery of these fascinating places while the story unfolded.
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  • Megan Bell
    January 1, 1970
    I’m a huge fan of Charlie Jane Anders’ Nebula Award winning debut All the Birds in the Sky and was absolutely thrilled to get the chance to read her next novel! The City in the Middle of the Night opens thousands of years in the future. Humans now live in a narrow strip on a tidally-locked planet where half the world is in perpetual freezing darkness and the other half in searing sunlight. When shy student Sophie finds herself exiled into the fatally cold darkness, she survives by befriending on I’m a huge fan of Charlie Jane Anders’ Nebula Award winning debut All the Birds in the Sky and was absolutely thrilled to get the chance to read her next novel! The City in the Middle of the Night opens thousands of years in the future. Humans now live in a narrow strip on a tidally-locked planet where half the world is in perpetual freezing darkness and the other half in searing sunlight. When shy student Sophie finds herself exiled into the fatally cold darkness, she survives by befriending one of the creatures of the night, a friendship that has the power to change everything. The City in the Middle of the Night is a feat of world building and a fierce and deeply felt examination of what it means to be human. This world is so rich I️ couldn’t possibly name everything that entranced me. Politics, relationships, sexuality, communication, culture, technology, climate, time itself—this book questions everything as it follows Sophie from and to and between two opposing human cities and then into The City in the Middle of the Night.
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  • Liz (Quirky Cat)
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of The City in the Middle of the Night in exchange for a fair and honest review. The City in the Middle of the Night is the newest novel from Charlie Jane Anders. It also happens to be the first novel I’ve read by her. I know, don’t beat me up. I loved it! And I’ve already added all of her previous works to my massive TBR pile, so we’re good. I’m not ashamed to admit that the first thing that caught my attention about The City in the Middle of the Night was the cover. It’s ab I received a copy of The City in the Middle of the Night in exchange for a fair and honest review. The City in the Middle of the Night is the newest novel from Charlie Jane Anders. It also happens to be the first novel I’ve read by her. I know, don’t beat me up. I loved it! And I’ve already added all of her previous works to my massive TBR pile, so we’re good. I’m not ashamed to admit that the first thing that caught my attention about The City in the Middle of the Night was the cover. It’s absolutely beautiful. It seems like every time I look at it I notice another little detail that I had missed previously. Between that and the striking color palette…well, I was sold. The novel is set on a tidally-locked planet – meaning that the planet doesn’t rotate. Instead, there is one side constantly facing the sun, and the other in complete darkness. There’s a slim slice of land that acts like the equivalent of dawn or dusk. Where the conditions aren’t quite ideal…but they are survivable. It’s in this small slice of land that humans, the distant relations to the first colonists to flee earth, made their homes. Each city has a different structure, set of rules, and even their own view on life. It may be a strange system, but it works. Mostly. I almost never draw a quote from the description of a book, but this one is just such a perfect summarization of the novel that I can’t resist: “If you control our sleep, then you can own our dreams…And from there, it’s easy to control our entire lives.”(view spoiler)[ The City in the Middle of the Night was an utterly enchanting read, from cover to cover. I loved the main character, and many (but not all) of the people she met. I loved the structure of the world, the city, the politics, and many other details. It was all so thoroughly thought out; it was hard to do anything but fall headfirst into the world. Charlie Jane Anders explores so many different concepts through the course of this novel. It’s almost too difficult to fully take them all in. There’s the perspective on survival; how people would survive on a twisted planet such as this one. There’s the concept of culture; how much or little space a group of people needs before they form their own traditions and way of life. There’s politics; how some cultures moved past the concept of individuals and went for the bigger picture (in their minds, at least). There’s the concept of gender and sexuality; how it’s okay to be yourself, and not be afraid of being different. There’s the concept of self; how much change can a person go through while still maintaining their sense of self. I’ve only just scratched the surface, there’s so much more to this novel. But you have to read it for yourself to see the true depths of it all. I loved the main character. Her constant self-questioning and determination were really quite beautiful. She’s loyal, accepting, and willing to change her life for the sake of those she loves and respects. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character quite like her…I don’t want to use the term ‘pure’ but nothing else really fits either. She’s truly open and trusting, possibly in defiance of what she’s gone through. There was so much I loved about this book, it’s actually taking most of my willpower not to continue babbling about it. I think most of the impact would be better experienced than talked about, for obvious reasons. So I’m going to force myself to stop here. I think that the novel has the potential to become a series, even if it isn’t currently listed as one. While this novel did fully wrap up most of the plots, there are still a few points left open. I suspect that’s in hopes of a second (or more) novel, which I’m fully in support of. I’d love to see more of the planet and how things fall out in the long run. (hide spoiler)]For more reviews, check out Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks
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  • morgan
    January 1, 1970
    (Follow @morganreadsalot on Instagram for more reviews)Thanks to Tor for this free copy!“...to join with others to shape the 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.”Wow! What an adventure! You may remember how much I love Charlie Jane Anders’ All The Birds In The Sky, and how strongly I feel that it doesn’t get enough mainstream love o (Follow @morganreadsalot on Instagram for more reviews)Thanks to Tor for this free copy!“...to join with others to shape the 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.”Wow! What an adventure! You may remember how much I love Charlie Jane Anders’ All The Birds In The Sky, and how strongly I feel that it doesn’t get enough mainstream love on #bookstagram, so clearly I was dying to read this! Much like All The Birds In the Sky, The City In The Middle Of The Night went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting, and I loved it all the more for it! This is immersive and fast-paced, but still thoughtful, Sci Fi set in an expertly crafted world unlike others I’ve “visited” before, a world that is trying to kill you at every turn. When everything is trying to kill you, the best way to stay alive is to look out for number one, but both our badass female leads know that having a tribe is simultaneously necessary and potentially heartbreaking. As they try to find the balance, and find a way to make their world more bearable things get very confused along the way and hard questions are asked. There’s a lot to think about here, but it’s also downright entertaining.
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  • Billie
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't really engage with the book fully until about the last 100 pages (fewer, actually) and now I'm left hoping for a sequel.Also, humans are the worst.
  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    3.5/5 starsI received this as an Advanced Reading Copy in a Goodreads Giveaway.The City in the Middle of the Night is a uniquely creative science fiction novel set over a thousand years in the future on a planet newly inhabited by humans. This planet has a distinct line between day and night that never changes, creating one sliver of 'liveable' atmosphere and climate that does not freeze one to the surface nor boil ones blood alive. Thus, cities are born balanced between the night and the light, 3.5/5 starsI received this as an Advanced Reading Copy in a Goodreads Giveaway.The City in the Middle of the Night is a uniquely creative science fiction novel set over a thousand years in the future on a planet newly inhabited by humans. This planet has a distinct line between day and night that never changes, creating one sliver of 'liveable' atmosphere and climate that does not freeze one to the surface nor boil ones blood alive. Thus, cities are born balanced between the night and the light, and none are to stray too far away from this central sliver. Sophie lives in the grand city of Xiosphant, where the government aims to control every aspect of its citizens' lives through timeliness and control of their shutter cycles (a sort of sleep cycle, where everyone is awake and everyone sleeps at exactly the same time). Our second main voice is Mouth, who is a member of the Resourceful Couriers, a small group of otherwise adventurers who risk their lives to travel and trade between cities on this harsh planet. Sophie and Mouth meet in an unfortunate set of circumstances that result in secretive plans, dangerous ideas, and a life-changing adventure for all involved. The populations are at war with each other, most without the knowledge that they may not have what it takes to be a human on this alien planet.This tale is told in seven parts, and let me just tell you right off that parts 1, 5, 6, and 7 are great, but parts 2, 3, and 4 just drag on and on and on. When I finally got to part 5, it felt like the climax and resolution were extremely rushed compared to the relatively thin plot of the rest of the book. It was one of the wordier books I’ve read recently, but maybe that’s just me. The beginning plot surrounds Sophie's fascination for her close friend Bianca, and Mouth's fascination with stealing back The Invention, an old relic of her ancestors, from the Xiosphanti government. Neither of these plot lines were particularly original or intriguing. What really kept me interested was the novel environment and fantastical elements the author creates when one creates her own planet. I wish she would have focused even more on world building, especially with the Gelet. I didn't identify with Sophie at all, but Mouth and her back story were fascinating. My heart breaks for Mouth's final realization about her past, and Sophie's realization that love doesn't always flow both directions. It was worth it in the end, though I still feel there are some things missing.
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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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  • Joe Jones
    January 1, 1970
    Bonkers in the best way possible and shows how science fiction should be written! This would make for a great book discussion title with so much to talk about. Loved it!
  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    Come at me with the crazy storyline, book.
  • the 88th queen of mars
    January 1, 1970
    A friend snagged me an ARC of this book at NYCC this year. I haven't read Anders' first novel but I read her short story collection and I was really excited about this one. No big spoilers here!What's super great about this novel is that it really transcends genre. It's sci-fi I guess, 'cus like, future Human history, new planet, weird tech...but it doesn't feel like sci-fi. Its got a kind of fairy tale vibe, everything balancing on big themes instead of big corps or big politics (even tho its g A friend snagged me an ARC of this book at NYCC this year. I haven't read Anders' first novel but I read her short story collection and I was really excited about this one. No big spoilers here!What's super great about this novel is that it really transcends genre. It's sci-fi I guess, 'cus like, future Human history, new planet, weird tech...but it doesn't feel like sci-fi. Its got a kind of fairy tale vibe, everything balancing on big themes instead of big corps or big politics (even tho its got those too). You can't say its hard or soft sci-fi 'cus its bigger than that, like people aren't hard or soft, or nice or mean, you're probably everything at different times. Maybe that's why I refuse to pin it to a genre...there's a lot of Truth in this book and Truth overcomes those tiny kinds of cages. I think this is where the "new Le Guin" comment comes from.Unfortunately, I was never a fan of Le Guin, and this book isn't 100% for me. I think that's a me-problem, like when Mouth shares with the crocodiles for the first time...she's way too damaged to even let that kind of beauty in. She can't reconcile it, it doesn't translate. I can feel this being a really good book and I know SO MANY people are gonna love it--it might even be formative for some young writers/readers, like Le Guin was. I guess my real bone to pick with this one was the lack of a real driving plot. We get two shiny carrots the two POV characters follow, one each, the Invention for Mouth and Bianca for Sophie. Those carrots slowly rot even as the characters get closer to them until they just turn into sludge before their eyes--and that's like, half the book. Then we follow these damaged girls around from job to job, city to city, kind of just picking up life as it comes at them without a big overarching plot. The crocs are always on the backburner, and the mystery of them really kept me reading, but more than a few times I'm like "what are we really doing here." That said, the language was really beautiful in places (sagged in other places, esp. toward the end though) and that helped keep me afloat. There's a ton of tenderness here, sadness, just total annihilation of everything you ever loved...a lot of powerful moments. Sometimes those moments were a little too on the nose, like I could almost see the author scheming away at making me Feel Important Things. I think it will resonate with a lot of people though; I have high hopes that my personal issues with the novel will be forgotten fast in the face of upcoming praise!
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  • Katy
    January 1, 1970
    The relationship at the core of the book felt a bit flat and static but the alien life the author created (and how it interacts with humanity) was brilliant, moving, and totally worth it.
  • Anita Eti
    January 1, 1970
    Charlie Jane Anders can take two of the weirdest, non-meshing genres, put them together and somehow create an amazing book that makes a lot of sense. This book is a mashup of science fiction, adventure, romance, steampunk and just plain strangeness (LiTEraLly they live on a planet that's half day-half night all the time, where monsters exist, and weird crocodile creatures apparently have can talk through like ? tentacle things?!!) Oh and if you happen to be on the side that's day all the time, y Charlie Jane Anders can take two of the weirdest, non-meshing genres, put them together and somehow create an amazing book that makes a lot of sense. This book is a mashup of science fiction, adventure, romance, steampunk and just plain strangeness (LiTEraLly they live on a planet that's half day-half night all the time, where monsters exist, and weird crocodile creatures apparently have can talk through like ? tentacle things?!!) Oh and if you happen to be on the side that's day all the time, you burn to death, but in the night a whole host of dangerous creatures want to eat you and you also freeze to death! So basically everyone lives in the line between them aka dawnThe book is split into 2 main charactersSophie: A quiet girl who just wants her friend/crush to notice her and is willing to do anything, even potentially die, to save her and who ends up with an experience that changes her life completely andMouth: The lone survivor of a traveling cult, who just wants a real name. She's now a traveler/smuggler who's crossed the dangerous night and sea all in search of that elusive something that will make her feel complete.Both of these characters need to beware...a dangerous change is overtaking the planet and only those weird crocodiles and the 2 mains can (kinda) fix itI really enjoyed this book even though it took me FOREVER to read. The beginning is a little slow but once you get into and begin to understand what's going on, the pace picks up. I didn't love the ending because I feel like there were some unresolved problems. I also would have loved to learn more about the spaceship/mothership they came on and what's up with that- like do people still live on it? Do people still live on the original planet? I was slightly disappointed when I realized there was no way the author could satisfy my curiosity since I had like 2 pages left lol. I would definitely recommend. Thanks to the publisher for sending me an advanced copy of this novel!!
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  • Anthony Hayes
    January 1, 1970
    This is a tough review to write. Let's start with the positive...First, Anders is an extremely talented writer of prose. She is also fantastic at picking out and highlighting details that are charming and amusing while also informing a mood or setting. In addition, she has a first rate imagination and clearly excels at world building. This is certainly a fine story and a fascinating concept.Where this fell down for me was in the characterization and the plot. It starts out great... but after a c This is a tough review to write. Let's start with the positive...First, Anders is an extremely talented writer of prose. She is also fantastic at picking out and highlighting details that are charming and amusing while also informing a mood or setting. In addition, she has a first rate imagination and clearly excels at world building. This is certainly a fine story and a fascinating concept.Where this fell down for me was in the characterization and the plot. It starts out great... but after a couple of dozen chapters begins to meander a bit and didn't really gel for me until the last few chapters. Also the characters, imo, were not significantly delineated and I tended to have trouble telling one from the other at times. The only character that was clearly drawn for me was Mouth.When first diving into this story it seems like something momentous is building but it never comes to fruition. Things happen, but in fits and starts. It's mostly a lot of conversation... which is fine... I was just expecting more action from the dust jacket and first chapters. At one point, a good part of the book is spent on one character finding out about and planning an elaborate heist to recover a lost cultural artifact. Then after an event detours that character... She gives up and never mentions it again. My favorite part of the book by far is the alien race referred to as "crocodiles." I wished more time had been spent on this aspect. Their interaction with the human characters was really interesting and clever. I wouldn't mind a sequel focused on that.This book reminds me of a cross between C.J. Cherryh and Alastair Reynolds. Hard sci-fi backdrop but a real focus on the interpersonal relationships and interactions. I did enjoy reading it. Perhaps my expectations were just a little high going in.
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  • Donna Hines
    January 1, 1970
    Endless darkness with blinding light. This new thriller by Charlie Jane Anders will have you questioning how anything could survive yet thrive.The government runs the show. Armageddon has arrived. The show must go on but who will be behind the wheel.This is a revolution unlike no other yet a perilous fight that will go down in history.A chance to right the wrongs.A chance to show everyone the human will never gives up to monsters.Xiosphant was a city literally under siege and near distinction.Ex Endless darkness with blinding light. This new thriller by Charlie Jane Anders will have you questioning how anything could survive yet thrive.The government runs the show. Armageddon has arrived. The show must go on but who will be behind the wheel.This is a revolution unlike no other yet a perilous fight that will go down in history.A chance to right the wrongs.A chance to show everyone the human will never gives up to monsters.Xiosphant was a city literally under siege and near distinction.Exploration and imagination takes center stage here as these characters are quite innovative.There's no way to tell the passage of time only regret.When 'citizens' tried to present themselves in a new light Budkhians only doubted them more.However, they can start over as long as they are willing to climb to unknown areas in uncomfortable positions. "I don't know if our power to forget makes humans stronger, more self destructive or maybe both."When refugees from different zones fall in love it's magical but time is of the essence.So hop on board and enjoy the ride!Thank you Charlie, the publisher, for this amazing ARC courtesy of Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for this honest review.
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  • Tracy Hoffman
    January 1, 1970
    This story follows Sophie, a student and a revolutionary, who makes a split second decision which results in her exile from the city of Xiosphant. On the planet January, this is a death sentence. Or, it should be except that Sophie has an encounter with the beasts that roam the ice beyond the city’s border and that encounter has the potential to change everything.At the core of this story is the question of what makes us human. In moments large and small, Anders also asks questions about authori This story follows Sophie, a student and a revolutionary, who makes a split second decision which results in her exile from the city of Xiosphant. On the planet January, this is a death sentence. Or, it should be except that Sophie has an encounter with the beasts that roam the ice beyond the city’s border and that encounter has the potential to change everything.At the core of this story is the question of what makes us human. In moments large and small, Anders also asks questions about authority, technology, climate, identity, sexuality, our relationships with each other and those we see and identify as different from us. How Anders well-drawn, complex characters answer these questions will have far ranging consequences for the people living on January.Anders is a masterful storyteller. The City in the Middle of the Night is wildly imaginative and entertaining. As other reviewers have noted, there are elements reminiscent of Mad Max. As I read, I couldn’t help but also think of China Miéville’s work. This book just confirms what I already suspected—I want to read everything Anders writes and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
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  • Jack
    January 1, 1970
    Anders does two wonderful things with this book: detailed world-building and conveyance of emotional experience. The world-building is pretty shiny. There's a weird planet that's half searing day and half freezing night. Humanity struggles to maintain its existence in these harsh conditions, and over generations, new cultures form. Oh and there's some aliens that communicate with tentacles. Pretty intriguing. Pretty cool.The emotions are the real treasure though. All that trauma (the fear, the p Anders does two wonderful things with this book: detailed world-building and conveyance of emotional experience. The world-building is pretty shiny. There's a weird planet that's half searing day and half freezing night. Humanity struggles to maintain its existence in these harsh conditions, and over generations, new cultures form. Oh and there's some aliens that communicate with tentacles. Pretty intriguing. Pretty cool.The emotions are the real treasure though. All that trauma (the fear, the pain, the regret, the numbness, the frustration, the wondering if it will ever be over - and the knowing that it won't). That longing and obsessive love (where you know it's kind of unhealthy but you want it anyway and maybe this time will be different, maybe this time will work, and you can't stop yourself and you don't want to stop yourself but... )There's just something about this book. For all that it's set on an alien world, it struck me as being incredibly realistic in how it balanced doom and hope. Basically, everything is kind of fucked but you keep going and living and loving. Also, this book is kinda gay. A+
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  • Kaitie
    January 1, 1970
    On January, a planet that is locked in orbit, the two major human colonies perch precariously in the confines of a small strip of land between Night and Day, surviving with tight resources and tense politics, but surviving nonetheless. When Sophie is wrenched from an outing with her classmates and paraded through the jeering streets of Xiosphant, she begins to question who she feels more loyal to - the humans who betrayed her, or the mysterious alien creatures that rescued her from a dark, icy e On January, a planet that is locked in orbit, the two major human colonies perch precariously in the confines of a small strip of land between Night and Day, surviving with tight resources and tense politics, but surviving nonetheless. When Sophie is wrenched from an outing with her classmates and paraded through the jeering streets of Xiosphant, she begins to question who she feels more loyal to - the humans who betrayed her, or the mysterious alien creatures that rescued her from a dark, icy exile. She kindles an unexpected friendship with the creatures, and finds that their way of life may be the solution her people have needed, if not necessarily the one they will want. This stunning book is about humanity, identity, and all kinds of love, and Charlie Jane Anders drops jaws with the most gorgeous prose you'll read all year. It's an unforgettable novel that will surely become a classic, turning heads from science fiction fans to conventional readers alike.
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  • Kim McGee
    January 1, 1970
    A dystopic look at the pitfalls of civilization, society, and love. Rules on this planet are strictly enforced so when some young students are caught holding a subversive meeting, one of the girls is run out of the colony at gunpoint and cast out over the wilderness to be eaten by alien creatures. Sophie ends up being saved by the lobster looking crustaceans and befriends them. When she eventually meets up with her friends and other revolutionaries, Sophie tries to convince them that they need t A dystopic look at the pitfalls of civilization, society, and love. Rules on this planet are strictly enforced so when some young students are caught holding a subversive meeting, one of the girls is run out of the colony at gunpoint and cast out over the wilderness to be eaten by alien creatures. Sophie ends up being saved by the lobster looking crustaceans and befriends them. When she eventually meets up with her friends and other revolutionaries, Sophie tries to convince them that they need to work with the Gelet but they only see how the species can be dominated. Her relationships with Bianca, who she secretly loves, and with Mouth and the others seem to skirt between revolutionary, outlaw and survivor. This is a wild ride of man-eating creatures, thieves, pirates and people desperate to understand their place in this alien world. There is much to fear in the darkness. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
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  • Michelle Willms
    January 1, 1970
    This is a tale of a world divided. One half is always in light; the other lives in the dark. People tell tales of a world of old, a world that spun, so that it was half in day, half in night. It's mostly believed to be myth. Bianca and Sophie meet at school - a school that Sophie, from her world of darkness, feels that she hasn't fully earned, though she's passed the tests and won a scholarship. She's shy and doesn't talk much, but Bianca, with her wealth and brightness, pulls her in and engulfs This is a tale of a world divided. One half is always in light; the other lives in the dark. People tell tales of a world of old, a world that spun, so that it was half in day, half in night. It's mostly believed to be myth. Bianca and Sophie meet at school - a school that Sophie, from her world of darkness, feels that she hasn't fully earned, though she's passed the tests and won a scholarship. She's shy and doesn't talk much, but Bianca, with her wealth and brightness, pulls her in and engulfs her. Soon, Sophie is lost to Bianca's shine. This leads to Sophie's exposure to the Crocodiles, and all that happens afterwards.Sometimes, one event can shape endlessly. This is a great example of that, as well as how politics isn't always about simply replacing the head of the hydra with another head. Interesting book with wonderful world-building.
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  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    Living on a planet that barely sustains human life, Sophie is accused of a minor societal infraction and is literally thrown out of her community and left for dead. Instead of obediently accepting her fate, Sophie finds salvation from a creature that most people fear. When she returns to her people, Sophie cannot entirely release the bond she made with the strange night beings she met, and her connection could shake the world she lives in.This novel really caught my attention; not only for the c Living on a planet that barely sustains human life, Sophie is accused of a minor societal infraction and is literally thrown out of her community and left for dead. Instead of obediently accepting her fate, Sophie finds salvation from a creature that most people fear. When she returns to her people, Sophie cannot entirely release the bond she made with the strange night beings she met, and her connection could shake the world she lives in.This novel really caught my attention; not only for the creative landscape and layered world building, the political framing and detailed characterizations, but also for the way Anders' weaves social commentary and thought provoking observations into the wild and surreal circumstances. A lot lies below January's surface.This ARC was provided by Tor/Macmillan, in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Heidi Ingalls
    January 1, 1970
    I won this ARC in a Goodreads giveaway. It comes out February 2019. This is a sci-fi novel that I believe classifies as YA. As much as I wanted to stick with this book and push myself through it, I couldn't. I ended up DNF' ing it a little into part three. I could not get into this. I didn't care about the characters and the plot was just incredibly confusing for me. Half the time, I had no clue what was going on. There were parts that were just weird, like Sophie having this special bond with a I won this ARC in a Goodreads giveaway. It comes out February 2019. This is a sci-fi novel that I believe classifies as YA. As much as I wanted to stick with this book and push myself through it, I couldn't. I ended up DNF' ing it a little into part three. I could not get into this. I didn't care about the characters and the plot was just incredibly confusing for me. Half the time, I had no clue what was going on. There were parts that were just weird, like Sophie having this special bond with a crocodile she names Rose where she can see what they've been through if she sticks her head in its mouth. Strange and unrelated to everything else that was going on in the book. Maybe it all comes together in the end? I don't know and I don't care to find out.
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