Sunday, February 28, 2016

This Census Taker, by China Mieville. Del Ray, 2016

A young boy lives in a dystopian future; he and his parents live on a lonely hill outside of town. The mother scavenges things and grows vegetables that she trades for other foods in the run down town where a pack of feral children run. The father is a key maker; his keys are magical and can bring money or love to the purchaser. The father also occasionally kills animals- and maybe more- and throws the bodies down a pit in a cave. One day, the boy runs into town in a panic: he has seen his father kill his mother. Or vice versa. He’s not really sure. But the townspeople rule that he must be returned to his father- there is no proof the mother didn’t just leave. So he lives in constant fear of his father. Is the father a killer, or did the mother leave?

There are no answers in this book. There is no answer to the disappearance, there is no answer as to why the world is so broken, there is no answer to why the boy, now grown, is in prison, writing his memoir. Nor is there much depth to any characters; even the boy whose eyes we see the story through (changing from first to third person constantly) is not a person but bundle of fear, tension, and despair. The book is almost nothing but atmosphere. This is not a world any reader would want to live in. It’s a world without hope.

It was a kind of interesting read- I kept reading, trying to find some answers- but not one I’d put in the same class as Mieville’s other work. It’s a tone poem of despair, not a novel.

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- Amazon will give me a few cents. This in no way influenced my review. 

1 comment:

  1. Howdie L: Haven't read this one of his yet..I love love me some Mieville, even when I feel he isn't at his best, he's still better than a lot out there!