What a strange book. That’s not an insult coming from me, but I think this book suffers from a surfeit of ideas; Anders has A LOT to say here about the intersection of and battle between science and nature, and it all comes out in a book that’s not quite big enough to contain them all, which was the problem I had with her most recent novel that I read earlier this year. Like with that one, there are worse things than too many ideas, but it does feel a bit overstuffed with concepts whereas The City in the Middle of the Night felt sparse with too many years alluded to and too many experiences stated rather than felt.
That said, I am here for the weirdness of a witch who can talk to an often salty nature (birds, trees, cats) and her best friend who can practically do the same with machines; his artificial intelligence who becomes a “Her” like smartphone that intuits people’s desires and helps achieve them, and what they do to combat climate change-induced apocalypse.
There’s a lot here that’s good, and it’s worth reading if only for the unique perspectives, the fleshed out ideas and concepts, but everyone in this book who isn’t one of our two main characters feels like a cardboard cutout. Which, come to think of it, was a problem with TCITMOTN. If Anders either cut her cast or gave them the same life as her protagonists, I think this would be a five star book. But it’s still a recommendation, and I preferred it to City in the Middle of the Night