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ARC DNF Review: The City Inside by Samit Basu

Publication Date: June 7, 2022


“They’d known the end times were coming but hadn’t known they’d be multiple choice.”

Joey is a Reality Controller in near-future Delhi. Her job is to supervise the multimedia multi-reality livestreams of Indi, one of South Asia’s fastest rising online celebrities—who also happens to be her college ex. Joey’s job gives her considerable culture power, but she’s too caught up in day-to-day crisis handling to see this, or to figure out what she wants from her life.

Rudra is a recluse estranged from his wealthy and powerful family, now living in an impoverished immigrant neighborhood. When his father’s death pulls him back into his family’s orbit, an impulsive job offer from Joey becomes his only escape from the life he never wanted.

But as Joey and Rudra become enmeshed in multiple conspiracies, their lives start to spin out of control—complicated by dysfunctional relationships, corporate loyalty, and the never-ending pressures of surveillance capitalism. When a bigger picture begins to unfold, they must each decide how to do the right thing in a world where simply maintaining the status quo feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately, resistance will not—cannot—take the same shape for these two very different people.

My Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

DNF at 50%

This was the weirdest reading experience. While I was reading I felt almost compelled to keep reading. But the moment I stopped I didn’t want to pick it up again AND I had no idea what I’d just read. It’s like it magically turned to gibberish the moment I stopped to think? It was bizarre.

I couldn’t decide whether I liked any of the characters or not. They were all just sort of drifting along in this dystopian future existence that was both chillingly plausible and totally out-there. It reminded me of the experience of reading 1984, actually.

In the end I decided that I’d dedicated enough time to it and since at 50% I still had absolutely no idea where the story was going – or even if there was a story – it was time to put it down.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss, and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

That a day wouldn’t come, soon after, when Joey wasn’t allowed to leave her house and her parents didn’t know whether to blame the pogrom or the pandemic, because they’d known the end times were coming but hadn’t known they’d be multiple choice.

So she looks away, as usual, a skill everyone she knows has learnt since childhood, because not looking away means seeing terrible things.

The world is better now, definitely. At least the bits of it she is allowed to see.

He tries to convince himself he’s home, genetically speaking. If home is where the people you love most are, his real home is currently a server in New Zealand.

…being all self-reliant and independent but so inherently obedient that even his rebellion is budget-friendly.