Cities (2014)

23705863“I deserved better friendship from you, Ben. Whatever you’re doing, whatever you’re trying to say about these parallel universes, just stop. I don’t want to dream anymore.”

On the day of a wedding in Manila, Celia Alix grapples with what ifs and multiverses where she could have had a happy ending. She could have had a quirky young romance in Seoul, or an edgy love affair of sorts in London. In another lifetime, in bustling New York, she could have experienced the woes of newly-wedded bliss. But in her present reality, it’s her best friend Vivian whom Ben is waiting for at the end of the long walk to the altar, as Celia stands broken in a far corner of the church, tucked into the comfort of her friend Henry’s arms. In another lifetime, was she happy? In another world, had she loved and been loved in return?


My main reader failing is that I avoid science fiction like the plague. To me, it’s usually confusing and full of uncertainty, which is enough cause for impatient readers to lose themselves somewhere along the pages of a novel. The multiverse aspect of Cities, however, only adds more delicious layers to the flavor of the entire story – Seoul is vibrant, London is deep, New York is sharp, and Manila is tender and gritty at the same time. The best part is that each of the subordinate story arcs is written with the style and sound of its featured city. This book is a delight to the senses, and I love how – despite a relatively loose ending – one feels satisfied in the end thanks to the sheer scale and grandness of it all.

The universe is a big, big place, and your current love story is not your only one. This book wants you to know that.

The idea of writing a romance across space is simply ingenious, and whatever major confusion that could have ensued from that effort is deftly avoided by clear-cut writing on the part of the author. It’s still not the most readable thing out there – because if you’re like me and you’re accustomed to traditional story flows, you might find the individual chapters choppily woven together – but it makes up for it through the variety of detail that’s presented. None of the characters were particularly appealing to me though. In fact, I downright hated one of the Carlas and at least two of the Vivians. But together, this ensemble cast works well.

The main appeal of Cities to me is that it unravels the crucial parts perfectly. The author has a way of delivering sentiment without sounding artificial. Given that this is a book partially hinged on regret-something-or-other, you would expect the main characters to be constantly teetering on the edge of the Abyss of Angst. But that is not the case here. Loss and love are fleshed out as in interplay between people and circumstance – here, emotion is not just a pithy declaration and a few adjectives mashed together. The treatment of romance in Cities is never callous. And I appreciate that tenderness.

So that’s why I really enjoyed this book.

Narrative: 2.5 / 4
Characters: 1 / 2
Aesthetic: 1.5 / 2
Personal Feels: 1.5 / 2
Total Rating: 6.5 / 10

Title: Cities (2014).
Author: Carla de Guzman.
Pages: 106.
Language: English.
Genre: Romance, Travel, Science Fiction.

Photo (c)


About the Author

Carla de Guzman started out like any writer, sitting in front of her dial-up Internet computer and discovering fanfiction. Riddled with sleep apnea and a vivid imagination, she started writing every midnight.

She still reads good fics obsessively, writes fanfiction secretly and still loves the idea of finding good fics.

She, her parents and nine crazy siblings love to travel together, eat together and watercolor together, so you could say she’s pretty happy.



This review is part of the Backlist Revival Project.
Many thanks to Carmel Lago and to Miss Carla de Guzman.

4 thoughts on “Cities (2014)

  1. Ooohhhh I had this idea too. About 1.0. What if we were a couple in a parallel universe or something? Now I am interested in this book. Will get this after thesis. Yay.

    Liked by 1 person

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