Book Reviews

Review: The City Inside by Samit Basu

The City Inside is perfect for readers who are searching for a detailed immersive SF setting. This setting came alive. I couldn’t stop thinking about the surveillance, the politics, and the technology. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


Joey is a Reality Controller in near-future Delhi. Her job is to supervise the multimedia multi-reality livestreams of Indi, one of South Asia’s fastest rising online celebrities—who also happens to be her college ex. Joey’s job gives her considerable culture power, but she’s too caught up in day-to-day crisis handling to see this, or to figure out what she wants from her life.

Rudra is a recluse estranged from his wealthy and powerful family, now living in an impoverished immigrant neighborhood. When his father’s death pulls him back into his family’s orbit, an impulsive job offer from Joey becomes his only escape from the life he never wanted.

But as Joey and Rudra become enmeshed in multiple conspiracies, their lives start to spin out of control—complicated by dysfunctional relationships, corporate loyalty, and the never-ending pressures of surveillance capitalism. When a bigger picture begins to unfold, they must each decide how to do the right thing in a world where simply maintaining the status quo feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately, resistance will not—cannot—take the same shape for these two very different people


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: panic attack

The City Inside is one of those multi-layered SF worlds which make you feel transported. This post-colonial cyberpunk setting is brought to life with its high tech world and background of political upheaval. This distinct sense of suppression, of the danger of having a counter opinion. It’s a world of surveillance and technology where agency is never simple. Where freedom and rebellion mean something different to each of us. A setting where our lives and thoughts are tracked. Where we are asked whether we let it keep us quiet or if we rebel.

Our lives look different to each of us. How we handle the uncertainty, the necessity for stability. And then we can have an interaction which ends up knocking our world off orbit. Overall, The City Inside balances introspective questioning with a setting which will inspire your dreams. These were my two favorite elements. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I was getting lost in the world. And the entire themes of cyberpunk and the ethical rammifications – I loved it. How Basu asks us how our value of reality, illusions, and truth change.

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These layers of conspiracy, undercutting, manipulation and espionage. In this world, what we make of our relationships within our lives. Amidst a world of technology, illusions, and surveillance. While I very much had to be in the right headspace, once I found it, I ended up enjoying all the questions I couldn’t stop turning over. If you’re in the mood for thought provoking SF, then pick this one up! Find The City Inside on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite thought provoking SF?

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