Mini Review: City of Dreams and Nightmares by Ian Whates

An extremely trying read - didn't like it one bit. So will keep this short.

City of Dreams and Nightmares is part-one of City of Hundred Rows trilogy and is touted to be a page-turning adventure set in a multi-tiered metropolis called Thaiburley where rats and the poor guys live at the bottom, while the rich magistrates and demons live at the top. It follows the fate of two street-kids as they discover they are cogs in the wheels, set in motion by a sinister ploy that threatens to consume the city itself. 

So much for the premise, I remember having read this premise a long while ago and having got excited over it. I usually get my hunches right in terms of books. I went for it and dug into this one. But sadly, the plot never got going for me and I was always putting it away when another interesting book presented itself to me. So yesterday forced myself to hunker down and finish it off finally.
So the positives aspects, first as always. Ian Whates has an extremely fertile imagination - to have thought of a City of Hundred Rows and all the eccentric technology/ creatures / races that live within the City is a mind boggling feat – a city with each row dedicated different kinds of people with the upper rows as usual clogged with the administrators of the city who decide the rules and the fate. It’s hard to say if this book sits within the realm of Science Fiction or Fantasy since obviously the kind of technology that is there within Thaiburley is advanced and yet I was a little disappointed because all of it kind of felt under-utilized. Another thing I loved about the book was the weapons, tons of interesting new ones. Overall, the book definitely had its entertaining moments – filled as it was with aliens, magic, blade fights and assassins.

But all along the way, I somehow thought nothing really happens in the book. The plot never got me interested, pale shadows of characters who never elicited or evoked my interest, I was never really pushed to even once think "Oh what will happen to Poor Tylus trapped in the City Below" or likewise...Ian’s writing never really rises above the stolid workman-like prose and at times gets very boring. The pacing is languid despite having set up an incredible world here that can really be explored and can definitely be laid out better. I for one didn’t stop to think about the characters. None of them held my interest and yet I did force myself to plod through this book hoping for something extraordinary to happen. Sigh. It never did, the second half possible gets even worse with all the loose threads being tightened up and we realize that all of this was being orchestrated by one sinister personality. Anyways will stop here I think. 

Giving this a two-star. Have White Noise by Ian Whates, perhaps he fares better when it comes to solid SciFi ?


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