Monday, July 18, 2016

The City of Mirrors - Justin Cronin

The City of Mirrors
Title: The City of Mirrors
Author: Justin Cronin
Publication Date: 5/24/16
Pages: 598
How I Found It: We read the first two
Date Completed: 6/1/16

Summary: The dramatic, extensive, apocalyptic journey comes to a close.

What I Thought: Whew. We did it. 

Cronin is one of the most loquacious authors I have encountered. This book could be about 4 books. I have rarely come across a writer who feels the need to put in so much detail about so many characters and so many storylines. It's exhausting at times. Back when I read the first book, I addressed this:
Another conflict of thought came from Cronin's extremely detailed storytelling. Again, on one hand, I liked that he was so thorough. He explores so many angles of the story and the perspective of so many characters. On the other hand, it gets long and some characters are really unnecessary. At points, the cast list starts to feel cluttered and hard to keep track of. He jumps from character to character and then, sometimes randomly, he jumps to an almost news-like report of what's happening. I have never seen a style quite like his and I am just really torn on how I feel about it. I do know, however, that there were some stretches where I just had no clue what in the world was going on. I mean, no idea. That was frustrating. I got it eventually, but I don't like being confused when I am reading.
I felt the same about both sequels. I felt on the fence after the first book, ready to quit after the second, and only picked up this one because Kevin has really enjoyed this series and wanted to finish it. When he actually is repeatedly asking about something, I know I need to get my hands on it for the both of us. Thankfully, in this case, Netgalley had my back.

I did feel like, in this third installation, things were slightly easier to follow. At least until we got to the climax in NYC. As Kevin said to me, "Did you have any clue what was happening during that whole part?" No. The answer is no. I just pushed through hoping Cronin would clarify events after the action died down. He did, but I still got annoyed trying to sort through the action. 

As with all of Cronin's work, this really could have been many books. There are so many stories packed in. On one hand, it's fun and enjoyable to really see a story play out in detail over the long haul. On the other, it's hard to keep track of everything and everyone. It took me a good fifty pages at the start to really remember who all the characters were and figure out what was happening with each of them. I would have loved a couple pages of refresher, either as part of the story or in an introduction. The first two works are just too complex not to have that reminder.

My verdict in the end? I enjoyed these books, but I wish they had been more condensed. It hurts me a little to say that because I do love that Cronin wrote a true epic, something so rare these days. Yet, I think I would have enjoyed them more broken out into smaller chunks or with fewer main characters to keep track of. Still, they were a fun read and I'm not at all sorry to have read them.

Quote I Loved: "What becomes of the past when there is no man to record it?"

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: No
If You Liked This, Try: The Dead Lands / Station Eleven / Wool
Other Books By Justin Cronin: The Passage / The Twelve

A Reduced Review: This overly complex journey finally wound its way to a pretty satisfying, if at times confusing, conclusion.

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