The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

Would you give up everything to change the world?

Humanity clings to life on January–a colonized planet divided between permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other.

Two cities, built long ago in the meager temperate zone, serve as the last bastions of civilization–but life inside them is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside.

Sophie, a young student from the wrong side of Xiosphant city, is exiled into the dark after being part of a failed revolution. But she survives–with the help of a mysterious savior from beneath the ice.

Burdened with a dangerous, painful secret, Sophie and her ragtag group of exiles face the ultimate challenge–and they are running out of time.

Welcome to the City in the Middle of the Night .

My Thoughts on The City in the Middle of the Night

The City in the Middle of the Night

“I wish I could be more like you. I want to demolish everyone’s expectations. I want to keep surprising them all until they die of surprise.” She’s not laughing, but her eyes have the same brightness as when she makes a joke. There’s more light in her eyes than in the whole wide sky that I grew up underneath.

The basics of the story here are nothing new – a young woman that doesn’t fit in the world she lives in falls foul of society but ends up changing everything. Everything else that was added to that story more than makes up for that though. So much originality is mixed into this book, from the setting itself to the relationships between the characters that it feels fresh and exciting right from the start.

It’s set in a world where half of it is always in sunlight and the other half in darkness. From burning hot to freezing cold and humans are trying to survive on the edges of the two. And in the darkness live the Gelet, creatures that humans call Crocodiles and have mistakenly disregarded as unintelligent beasts.

Most of all I loved the relationships between the characters, it really went in depth and created some complicated and nuanced connections. Sophie and Bianca have a very frustrating relationship, as much as they seem to really love and care for each other they can’t seem to get themselves to an equal footing. Sophie keeps giving in to Bianca’s wants even though it hurts her in the process. Mouth and Alyssa also have a deep friendship between them of the sort that is rarely seen in fiction. It’s these relationships and the friction it causes between the characters that drive a lot of the story. It’s nice to see such attention paid to them.

To add to all this the writing is beautifully done, and that for me made this book one that I just couldn’t put down.

It’s not a perfect book, the overall feeling of oppression became a little bit much to deal with – it felt to me like there was nowhere in the world where these people could find a safe home – and the pacing wasn’t always perfect, with the middle dragging a little and everything happening in a rush at the end. It stops it from being a 5 star read for me, but it came very close!

The sci-fi universe needs more like this, please and thank you.

The City in the Middle of the Night
Charlie Jane Anders
March 31st 2020

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