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I said you'd get this review next, and here it is ;)

This was a Christmas present, but I think if my mother had realised what was in it she might've been more leery about actually giving it to me.  The book is... well.  To me, it reads like a study of five characters with added erotica; there's little plot, really, and the whole book is about the four characters - Oleg, November, Ludovico, and Sei - who form a core around which a fifth character is built, the character of Palimpsest itself, the city itself.

As a set of character studies it is interesting, and the inclusion of the city as a semi-independent character studied in it's own right works reasonably well (though hardly perfectly; there are times when it grates, and times when it makes no sense, and times when it simply seems to be bits and bobs thrown together).  However, as a novel, the book doesn't, for me, work; bits of it are taken, wholesale and unchanged, from the short story in Paper Cities and other bits have been included with little purpose except for worldbuilding; there are ideas here that Valente had and chose to include but without any reason to include them, as they do not add to the plot or the character studies in truth.

In many ways, the book as a whole follows this pattern; an interesting idea taken on far too long.  At times it reads like a porn film - sex, with the flimsiest reason for its inclusion; at other times, like a novel that was just a set of whims of the author, something fun they came up with but couldn't actually carry off all that well.

This book, to be blunt, did not work for me; I am sure it has for others, and it does carry a large touch of the New Weird about it, but for me personally, it did not work.

Catherynne M. Valente talks about the work on John Scalzi's blog here.


reading, books
Daniel Franklin


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