RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksPart of Jemisin’s genius is rooted in her ability to come up with fantastically inventive premises that, while unthinkable before her writing, feel intuitive once read, to the point that one is baffled that nobody came up with them before ... After introducing us to each character in engrossing and vivid set pieces, the bulk of the novel is dedicated to the team tackling parallel crises ... filled to the brim of fantastically clever details that infuse focused political points with wild imagination ... At times, though, it’s exactly the neatness and wit of the premise that trip up the book ... The novel is at its best when the conflicts facing each borough’s avatar feel as human as they do symbolic ... While the larger metaphors...are clear, the narrative is gripping, not just because of the systemic catastrophes the “Alt Artistes” of Jemisin’s fantasy (because of course they call themselves the Alt Artistes) represent, but also because of the specificity with which Jemisin literalizes that system ... Jemisin’s brilliant allegorical premise lands with an uncanny prescience.
Charlie Jane Anders
RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksMuch of the pleasure of The City in the Middle of the Night comes from its slyly understated novelty ... The characters’ raw, painful honesty and their troubled relationships to each other form the heart of the novel. These relationships reach, with realistically varying success, across a range of barriers—not only of social class, but also of national identity and, indeed, of species. These finely drawn intimacies concretize the much larger social and environmental issues with which Anders’s ambitious novel grapples ... Here, Anthropocene allegories emerge without eclipsing organic characterization or plot. The development of the Gelet plot line is handled slightly more clumsily, but still with a depth of imaginative world-building that keeps the novel compelling ... This plot line seems at times a bit too conveniently scaled to the world of the characters, a bit too neatly explained, but the vividness with which the characters are drawn...keeps the narrative taut, driven by well-grounded emotional conflict rather than ham-handed moralizing. The City in the Middle of the Night is both an urgent exploration of the political exigencies of the Anthropocene and a sprawling epic that refuses simple reduction to climate extrapolation.