Five words from the blurb: city, stories, imagined, diverge, voices
I’m not sure how this book ended up on the Booker longlist. The writing quality cannot be disputed, but this book is a collection of short stories and I don’t think you can argue that they are connected enough to justify status as a novel. All the stories are set in the same city, but that is where the connection ends. Characters do not reappear and I could not see any other link between them all. As a result I was disappointed by this book.
The first chapter was slow to start, but by the end I was completely hooked. SPOILER (highlight to read): People trapped underground with monsters! Exciting premise for a Booker longlistee! Unfortunately that great story line was dropped, never to be mentioned again. There were a few other fantastic scenes sprinkled through the book, but they were never developed enough for me to care about any of the characters. I frequently found myself bored by entire sections and despite the beautiful writing I never rediscovered the excitement of that first chapter.
It was easy to read, containing a simple, but vivid writing style:
Each chapter was slightly different in tone and some were very different in terms of content and genre. Everything from science fiction to crime, and even dark suspense, was included at some point, but rather than be impressed by the variety I just craved some consistency. I’m afraid I’m just not a fan of short stories. If Sam Thompson wrote a novel then I’d be keen to try it, but this was too disjointed for me.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
…a highly recommended book that offers an exquisite reading experience with its many voices in an imaginary city that vividly comes to life. Fantasy Book Critic
There were a few stories I didn’t care for at all, but for the most part, the writing carried throughout the stories I liked and didn’t like. Nomadreader
There are some truly beautiful speculative concepts to be unearthed here. Strange Horizons