Review: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

Title: City on Fire

Author: Garth Risk Hallberg

Pages: 911 Pages

Publisher: Vintage Books/Penguin Random House

The Blurb

Midnight, New Year’s Eve, 1976. Nine lives are about to be changed forever.

Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, heirs to one of New York’s greatest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by the punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbour – and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year’s Eve.

Then, on July 13th, 1977, the lights go out.

The Review

Oh boy. What can I say about City on Fire. Well, it’s long. At 911 pages it is a beast of a book. If I had to say something about City on Fire it is that is like a version of Love Actually that tries too hard to be cool.

That probably sounds a bit harsh but hear me out. You have these interconnecting stories that take place over various time frames but all the characters are intrinsically linked to one character who spends the majority of the story in a coma. So far, this actually seems like a pretty interesting set up for a novel. However, you spend the majority of your time trying to keep up with whose story you are currently reading and then what their plot line is. So I kind of felt lost for the majority of the book.

I think City on Fire is a victim of its own length and really struggles to hold your attention.  I was constantly checking to see when the chapter would be over and not because I was excited to get to the next part.

When a book begins to feel like a chore to read then you know that t I not for you. This is not to say that City on Fire won’t be for somebody. There will be readers who will love all the things I disliked about City on Fire but sadly, for me, it failed to hold m concentration.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg is available now.

For more information regarding Garth Risk Hallberg (@GarthRisk) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Vintage Books (@vintagebooks) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom) please visit

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