Nutshell: Alice goes to Wonderland, teams up with a Planescape: Torment
crew, beats up sentient pollution with magic gun.
It's a tendentious faerie tale for kids, very expressly YA. Not for me, overall, even if it has merit.
Many moments of genuine inspiration and originality. Cool that slaves appear and are thereafter liberated, in the form of the rebrellas. We can count on Mieville for slave liberation, at the least.
Some brilliant moments, such as the list of other abcities (Parisn't, No York, Sans Francisco, &c.) (60), or when one Mr. Speaker's words are made manifest as little creatures, who then rebel against him in proper post-structuralist fashion (268-69). That last presents a nice little comment on marxism's commodity fetishism argument: commerical relations of persons to products is an illusion for political relations between persons, and language is revealed to be another such product--here, one that may engage in revolution, like the liberated slave umbrellas. Appreciate also very much the joke on Chaucer's "Parliament of Fowles" (285 et seq.). Villains are revealed to be in league with top-hatted industrialists, who affirm that "effluence = affluence" (318).
Primary villain is initially described in derridean terms, possessing "the absence of noise, the presence of a predatory quiet" (xi). Pleased that the talking book is written in "kraken ink" (83). That "abcities have existed at least as long as the cities" and "each dreams the other" reminds one of [b:Palimpsest|3973532|Palimpsest|Catherynne M. Valente|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320532857s/3973532.jpg|4019291]. Clever moment when the protagonist insists that she is "not walking though each of your chapters, book!" (304)--like a typical kid, wants to skip to the end.
Overall episodic, often random (binjas--really?), always moving very quickly. Rather annoyed by the main numinous object (section heading for same is with much awesomeness taken from the famous opening line of Virgil) as well as with the ultimate plot resolution--too neat and triumphant for a Mieville novel, which tend to be bittersweet. That's likely the YA genre requirement, though.
Recommended for extreme librarians, gnostechnicians, and arachnofenestranauts.