In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a traumatic event. He tries - and fails - to flee. Left alone with his increasingly deranged parent, he dreams of safety, of joining the other children in the town below, of escape.
When at last a stranger knocks at his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation might be over.
But by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? What is the purpose behind his questions? Is he friend? Enemy? Or something else altogether?
A story filled with beauty, terror and strangeness, This Census-Taker by China Miéville is a poignant and riveting exploration of memory and identity, read by actor Matthew Frow.
©2016 China Miéville (P)2016 Penguin Random House Audio
A man with a child in his ears.
I'll confess to only having got part way through this which is unusual for me but that felt like enough. It's not the worst book I have ever read by any means but what started in a promising way quickly descended into something completely different to what I would have expected from this author. It felt poorly thought out and meandering rather than the tight kind of story line which might have developed well in such a short audio book.
In addition I didn't take very well to Frow's narration style which felt fairly wooden and passionless.
By all means try this one if you want to but this feels like a significant departure in style for Mieville so if you do spend a credit on it don't expect to have "China in your hands".
This is just a comment on the audiobook, not the story itself.
It's written in lots of short segments/chapters, which jump around between times and places. I imagine (but can't say for sure) that in the book they're separated by a page break or a symbol. However, in the audiobook, it flows really quickly between the segments. I found that a few times this was quite disorienting and difficult to follow. All it would take is a couple of extra seconds between each segment, just to help understand when it's a new bit if you aren't looking at the screen.
Perhaps this is an intentional, stylistic choice by China Mieville, but I would have liked something to help me to tell, simply and quickly, that it was a new segment and the location or time might suddenly change.
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