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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

The City In The Middle Of The Night

Copyright 2019 by Charlie Jane Anders

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Good (3/5)

I first read this on the 20th January 2021.

The rotation of the planet January matches its orbit around its star so one side is very hot and the other cold. There's an atmosphere which smooths the temperature difference somewhat but only the divider between the hot and the cold sides is remotely habitable. Some desperate segment of humanity decided to colonise this wholly inhospitable world. They established not one but two cities on the divider: Xiosphant and Argelan. The cities are failing. Xiosphant is becoming more introverted, more strict and rigid in its customs and harsh in its enforcement. It's battening the doors and shutters against the outside world and new ideas as it slowly withers.

And on the cold side live alien monsters who are bigger, faster and more ferocious than our humans.

Young Sophie is a poor student with a scholarship to the University in the city of Xiosphant. She meets a fellow student, the glamorous and impassioned Bianca, and they are immediately Best Friends Forever. Their paths diverge but keep intersecting and indeed they do remain Best Friends almost Forever. However it's an entirely unhealthy relationship for young Sophie and it jeopardizes the momentous mission entrusted to her by the aliens.

I thought this was a pretty darn good novel, especially for young adults. It's better in my view than her "All The Birds In The Sky". I was swept up by Charlie's excellent writing and the planet January became real to me. I could imagine wandering the streets of Xiosphant or struggling with Sophie through the disabling, bitter temperature when fleeing into the cold side. The novel was tough and gritty, but compassionate. Our hero Sophie was indomitable.

Loaded on the 1st February 2021.
Cover of The City In The Middle Of The Night