This Census-Taker by China Miéville

I am not sure if I enjoyed or feel indifferent about China Miéville’s This Census-Taker. I’ve really liked the books of his I’ve read so far, and while This Census-Taker is a lovely read in terms of how the story is written, crafted and told, the actual story itself seems to lack a point. Yes, this kid witnesses his father murdering his mother. Yes there is no proof and so he has to continue living with him. And yes, this census-taker appears towards the end to… I don’t know… rescue the boy?

Perhaps it’s the fault of the blurb tucked inside the inner front cover. It sets the book up so that this census-taker – whose “job” also is also the title of the book – seems to pay an essential and impactful role on this book. I mean, I suppose he does eventually show up and somewhat changes this boy’s life, but his appearance and the events that follow just seem so anticlimactic. Add to that the lack of some definite location in time and space – we don’t ever know where or when the story takes place – and the book just has no grounding focus. All I can tell is that it took place anywhere from between now and when glow sticks and proper caving/mountaineering equipment were invented. And maybe before mobile phones and computers became widespread.

And as for the deranged parent? Yes, he may be a bit of a killer, but he seems calm most times. Especially for his son. So, I don’t know. I guess I enjoyed the read, but feel disappointed with how it all came together (if it even did that) in the end.

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