Is how the author — China Miéville — classifies his work, and especially for this book, The City & the City, I would consider that categorization wonderfully accurate.

Not wanting to waste anyone’s time, let’s start with the conclusion: If you have even the most passing of interests in fiction that dares to veer off the beaten path, you must check out this book.

Miéville takes his readers on a journey through the ‘kind-of-but-not’ Eastern European, ‘twin-but-not’ city-states of Besźel and Ul Qoma. The story is narrated from the perspective of Tyador Borlú, a career copper holding the rank of Inspector with Besźel’s ‘Extreme Crimes Unit’.

While Borlú initially sets off to investigate the vicious murder of a young woman, he soon discovers that the motivations behind this brutal crime go a lot deeper than expected, as his case begins to threaten the delicate balance between the two cities.

This book is neither a traditional police procedural nor is it a straight up fantasy story, somehow the term ‘urban fantasy’ seems more appropriate. Through his extreme metaphors of separation between the two cities, which reminded me vaguely of the pre-1990 East- and West-Berlin, Miéville manages to give his readers a fascinating glimpse into the psyche of people and the lengths they will go to in order to preserve societal structures they have become accustomed to or deem preferrable.

“Have you ordered the book yet? Why not?”