The City Below the Cloud delves into a dystopic cyberpunk future. However, while noteworthy, the plot lacks direction.
Hard to Follow
What made this novella difficult was that the reader could not see where this novel was going. The novel splits between sisters Kalan and Sett as they struggle to survive a climate-changed world where they have to buy oxygen.
It begins with Kalan waking up to a few of her teeth falling out. Certainly, a compelling way to start the story considering that this is not uncommon considering their world. The story goes on, following Kalan through her daily duties of working as a mushroom scraper. The mushrooms were an excellent added element; they were planted on buildings to absorb much of the air pollution. However, strangely enough, they have also become sentient. This is the bit of the story that needed to be flushed out more.
It was cool and weird, but it came out of nowhere, and when it comes to the ending, it seems more like a superfluous element thrown in. Maybe if the novel had been even fifty pages longer, that would have given the author more time to tackle the mushrooms and the socio-economic situation with real depth.
Then there are the sisters. As a novella, the reader has to connect to the characters. It is hard to care about the characters because the novel is focused more on using them to build up the world. Kalan goes about her day-to-day working, dealing with the loss of time and this mysterious appointment she has to tend to.
Then there is Sett. Sett is off with her friends hanging out in a junkyard. They do not seem like the best of people, but they do not seem like bad people. One of her friends dies, and Sett begins o think of how fleeting life is in this world they live in. However, there is nothing to make the reader care about her. Her perspective is interesting, but she serves as a plot device to give the reader a stronger foundation for the world.
However, what is interesting about the novel, and probably its saving grace, reveals at the end of the high class living above the clouds, above the dirty air. This addition ties the whole novel together because the reader is seeing the injustice of the powerful high class taking advantage of the lower class. Here they are living secretly above the clouds. The revelation at the end was compelling, and as a novella, it set up an excellent start to a series because of the world-building and the science fiction.
The City Below the Clouds leaves room for more, but as a standalone, it lacks direction and does not develop the characters as thoroughly as it should to make the novella compelling.
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|Pub Date: September 14, 2019||Page Count: 141 pp||Age Range: 18 & Over|
|ISBN: 978-1-6933-6753-3||Publisher: Independently Published||List Price: $6.99|