In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu

Before I review this book I will say that it has content in it that could be triggering to some readers. There is a trigger warning at the front of the book which I greatly appreciate. The warning is for a completed suicide. While it is not one of the more societally viewed bloody and graphic suicides, it’s still there and is important to the development of the main character and it is heartbreaking to read.

I would have also appreciated a warning for cutting. It happens toward the end of the story and it sort of threw me for a bit. It’s described in detail and the character says she doesn’t view it as self mutilation but when you read the parts, it reads like someone who cuts for relief. I wish the content warning would have covered this because it was jarring for me.

Now, getting into the story. This is a fantastic scifi story. There are neopronouns in the story and while some readers may find them difficult to parse, it’s not something that you don’t get used to very fast.

It’s a story with stories within which is always a fun read. Here’s the thing: none of those stories have happy endings. That doesn’t make them bad, the main character is experiencing them and it’s incredible to see how ae changes.

On the pronouns, ae is that a and e combo letter. I don’t know what it’s called or how to type it–sorry. There’s also se,ser,sers so it’s not difficult.

Anima is a node and it is aer job to monitor the city along with the other nods and keep people safe. You learn a lot about the city through the interwoven tales and it’s magnificnet.

I wanted to put the book down because I was tired when I read but I couldn’t. I had to know how things were going to end and I wanted to know where Anima ended up. I wanted to know how it wrapped up to the point that I read until my eyes hurt.

The author has such an increidble writing style. It’s beautiful and ae paint pictures with their words.

Note: the author also uses ae,aer,aers pronouns.

Back to the writing. Is it weird to say it was annoying how beautiful I found it when reading about heartbreaking moments? It made them really stick and hurt because of how skilled the author is.

I want to find more of aer work because this was so good and I hope I am in a place where I can read it if the themes are dark or if the content is triggering.

My only big issue with the book is that the trigger warning didn’t cover cutting.

All in all five (5) stars. Some may find the stories a little hard to get into but once you do, they won’t let you go.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Author. Reader. Reviewer. Interested in Sci-fi, Fantasy, and everything in between. Ya, and Adult. Looking for representaion where it matters! BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, everything! We all deserve stories!

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