I watch a lot of cop shows - Law & Order, CSI, NCIS - and in all of these shows, there is invariably an episode or two where the FBI or some other entity comes into a case to argue about the jurisdiction. Of course, the mystery then takes 5 times longer to solve because no one can legally do any sleuthing without knowing whose job it actually is. That's what this book kept reminding me of. Jurisdiction, man.
I had read [b:Perdido Street Station|68494|Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon, #1)|China Miéville|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51NSMZRX33L._SL75_.jpg|3221410] a few years ago and loved it, so I was excited to read another of China Miéville's books. This one was slightly disappointing though. The concept is really fantastic - two cities, overlapping and occupying the same physical space, with the invisible borders protected by an enigmatic branch of international law known as Breach. People living in either of the two cities, Beszel and Ul Qoma, learn to "unsee" landmarks and people in the other city - for instance, swerving to avoid cars in the other city while refusing to acknowledge that they are actually there. In execution, the story just doesn't deliver as much as the concept promises. The first third of the book is extremely confusing, the middle third (taking place in Ul Qoma) is actually pretty good, but then it loses steam again in the last few chapters. The dialogue is also a bit strange and stilted - I think Miéville may have written it that way intentionally, in order to make it sound like a translation, since English is not a commonly spoken language in either of the cities. Again, that's a cool idea, but it just comes off as weird when you're reading it.
In all fairness, this review is more like 3.5 stars, and I might even give it 4 if I were feeling generous, because there were some really cool parts. But overall, this book mostly just left me feeling "meh". I must admit, I love the term "topolganger", though.