Are you into wordy science fiction? Embassytown is just for you!
Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe. Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie. Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes. Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts. And that is impossible.
Published by Delray
May 17, 2011
Read June 2011
I'm conflicted about how I feel about this book, whether or not I should have loved it or just been confused out of my mind. In the end, though, I think it will suffice to say that I loved it but I have no clue what I loved. The writing was lovely and florid, but there were times where I didn't understand the plot, side plots, character motivations, turns of events, etc. Sometimes it would be more than a 100 pages before it hit me about something that I had already read. The book also had points where it was slow and tedious. I know from personal experience that sometimes China Mieville's works can take persistence to get through, but The Scar is still one of my favorite books. Will Embassytown be on that list? Probably not.
I fancy myself well read and able with the English language, but there were still times I had to look words up and I then asked myself at one point, "Would Avice really know these extremely obscure words applicable to events that happened on 16th century Earth?" Avice was a smart cookie, but I don't think she was that smart. I had trouble following Avice's progression and how she got to the point where she did at the end. It seemed unlikely, forced, and I'm not really sure how it ended up there at that point. Same with her husband's motivations and his progression as a character. By the time we've reached the ending, I felt as if the final 20 pages were just tacked on. They didn't really fit with the flow of the book at all.
What did this book have going for it? I really don't have any clue. Whatever it was, I was interested and hooked but I'm just not sure on what. Avice was an okay narrator, not my favorite. I liked some of the human characters surrounding her more and found myself wishing I knew more about them. I personally disliked some of them (Bren). At times, I strongly disliked Avice and what she was doing, mostly because I had no clue what she was doing. I felt left in the dark at times, but in the end, I was glad I slogged through. The ending was okay but the journey there was great. The reason why I didn't give this a higher rating was because I had no clue what I was reading 1/2 of the time.
It's worth reading, but not as satisfying as some of China Mieville's other works. And I look forward to finding a detailed plot write up on Wikipedia one day.
Verdict: Read with a big dictionary!