Travel Documents 19: Mimi of the Nowhere

Mimi of the Nowhere (Chronicles of the Great Migration Book 1)

Michael Kilman
Genre: Dystopian, climate change, romance

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The Dust Cover Copy

The world has become a strange place after climate change. Giant walking cities roam the landscape evading deadly storms and searching for resources. Immortality is available for the right price, and an ancient conflict is stirring in the heart of the city of Manhatsten.

In this world, there are things worse than death. Mimi, a homeless woman from nowhere, knows all too well what that means.

She thought she was unique, that there were no other telepaths. She was wrong.

Soon, she finds herself in the center of a conflict that has raged since the cities took their first steps over a thousand years ago. But this time, there might be no escape. This time, the city might just recycle her.

The Deets

The Scene

Worldbuilding

This was a story that did a great job of easing you into the fantastic worldbuilding. Details are dropped with quiet grace into descriptions and conversations that make this world of migrating cities endlessly traversing a dead Earth completely believable.  The fear of dropping in society is palpable and quite literal: only the upper class live in the tallest buildings. The culture gives us much to legitimately fear: city-killing storms, being put into a job that will certainly kill you one day, other cities looking to steal your resources and more nebulous fears in the shadows.

Two points didn’t seem quite workable in the societal structure.
One, the lesser issue: the refusal to recycle human remains as they do all other organic materials. From what I’ve seen, humans get less squeamish pretty fast when they need to. But as it isn’t wholly implausible and worked well in the plot, I didn’t mind it too much.

Two, and the greater issue for me: I struggled a bit with the idea that the homeless would be allowed to prolong their lifespans and subsist in a society where every resource is precious. In such a world, I could possibly see the life-extending technology becoming a human necessity, much as we treat Wi-Fi today. But still, I would assume that people who dropped below certain thresholds of society would either be assigned some form of work, or be recycled a la Windup Girl. Everyone needs to contribute, after all.

As a general setting, the world was immersive and very well done.

The Crowd

Characterization

I did enjoy characters, but they struck me as a little naive in their execution. The fact that Mimi is telepathic sometimes emphasizes this, since she sees through the emotions of those around her.

Perhaps what really struck me was the fact that many of the side characters seemed like actors playing their part in the plot rather than particularly engaging individuals. We have good characters who are wholly altruistic, martyrs who are suffering for their sins, and bad characters who are wholly selfish. You don’t see a lot of greys. This does improve as the plot thickens throughout the book, but it was something that regularly caught in my mind: ‘In a world like this, with people centuries old, would motivations and actions really be so transparent?’

On the other hand, if you’ve lived that long perhaps you’re past scheming. And maybe we need some stories where people are simply good, for a change.

Mimi and Shannon are a sweet couple, and Mimi’s personality is well-rounded and interesting. It’s valuable to watch her missteps, and heartening to watch her reach for something better in life in spite of her fears.

 

The Lingo

Writing Style

Again I had the sense that, while there’s certainly nothing wrong with the writing style, there’s something missing. A few tropes were used just a little too heavily, including ghostly parental forgiveness and the idea of the Undying Sage and the Ghastly Cabal Of Doom. It’s not bad, per se,  but it is done to death. That’s why it’s a trope.

Descriptions of emotions and motivations were also a little blunt for my tastes, but we are talking about a telepath here, so it’s not unreasonable.

However, these weaknesses were balanced with a great ability to describe environments and build up a world. The surviving familiar landmarks of New York act as little gems, well placed and glittering in the setting of this strange, wandering city where most food is made from algae and people die for their fellow citizens every day.

The Moves

Plot

While a bit predictable, the plot moved along at a good clip and never had a dull moment. The motivations did have enough backing to be believable, and the events were interesting. It wasn’t intricate, but it was engaging.

 

Overall Rating

A fun book to pick up on a snowy day. It’s nothing challenging, but it is fun.