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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

Currently reading

Visible Empire
Hannah Pittard
The Deptford Trilogy
Robertson Davies
Life on Mars
Jennifer Brown
The Family Under the Bridge
Natalie Savage Carlson


Embassytown - China MiƩville

China Miéville has a knack for building worlds. Not only is he an expert at building them, but he can convince nearly anyone he has lived in these worlds. Miéville doesn't pause to explain his world or his knowledge of it, he just jumps right in and expects the reader to follow along. His perspective presents the nuances as one might expect from one truly familiar with this world. This is both impressive and potentially confusing.


This was my second Miéville—my first being The City & The City—and though the two books are very different from one another, certain commonalities exist. First, they are intelligent. Even without taking into account his extraordinary talents at world building, Miéville shows his intellect. Second, these worlds are unlike anything I've come across before. Even when it seems the author may be envisioning another well-known work, he veers off and does something completely different. Third, they can be confusing: miss one word, one implication, and you'll be scratching your head the rest of the novel trying to determine what is happening. And lastly—and this is where Miéville loses me—there is a great dependence on chaos and violence in the heart of these stories. It's almost as though the author needs to completely destroy these impressive worlds he's built before moving onto the next. The problem I have here is that Miéville writes chaos too well. Action scenes on top of action scenes on top of... I don't know what's going on anymore. The destruction, the insanity—I feel it, and maybe that's the intention, but I so wish I could see through the smoke and know what was happening.


I liked Embassytown. I liked the characterization, the insight, and the breathtaking scenery. I get the feeling I can walk away from any Miéville novel and know I'll be impressed. Though I don't have a crush on Miéville like so many others I know, I recognize his talents, particularly his god-like ability to create and destroy.