The Municipalists by Seth Fried
Published by Penguin Books
Released March 19, 2019
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I finished this book on June 1st, and I’m just now getting around to reviewing it. Part of the reason for that is that I simply don’t have very much to say about it. I only mildly enjoyed reading it, and it was overall an average book. The best word I can think of to describe this novel is meh. This review will be short, though, because I started forgetting parts of this book as I was still reading it.
The Municipalists takes place in the near-ish future where people are flocking to huge megacities. One of these cities, Metropolis, is the largest and most populated.
Henry Thompson is an employee of the U.S. Municipal Survey, an agency that works to improve how cities are run. One day, the agency’s AI system, named OWEN, is hacked, and around the same time, the Municipal Survey loses communication with their Metropolis office. Henry is chosen to go undercover in Metropolis to try to learn what’s going on, and he’s given a partner to go with him. The partner is a bit of a surprise, however, as he is the physical, projected embodiment of OWEN.
The book is a humorous, action adventure of a novel, but I felt so bored while reading it. The type of humor reminded me of a novel I read last year that I enjoyed, called Battlestar Suburbia, but The Municipalists felt too forced in most places.
As I was reading the book, I kept forgetting that the main character’s name was Henry. It was bad enough that I would read his name and completely blank on it a page later. That’s an example of how forgetful I found this novel to be.
The first couple of chapters in this book are a perfect example of info-dumping. Everything was presented quickly and with little to no feeling behind it. The inciting event in this novel, which was OWEN being hacked, was written somewhat like an afterthought. I feel like it would have been better for Seth Fried to spend more time on such an important event, but it felt brushed over.
The character of OWEN bothered me immensely. He’s arrogant, drinks like a fish, and seems like such a cliche of every detective story ever. We do find that there’s a reason for that in the novel, but it didn’t change the fact that, of the two main characters, one is annoying and the other utterly forgettable.
Overall, I would recommend skipping The Municipalists. There are much better stories on the market.