I am not a classic book reader. I am a 'commuter reader'. I want to read a book while I travel to work, and just be...entertained. Perdido Street Station did just that - entertain me. It has elements of horror, action and of course sci-fi, and China manages to put together a good book. Some of the bad reviews I have read here at Amazon seem a trifle too extreme - this is a good book, albeit a long book.
Criticisms...I have a few. This is an author who likes to use long, fancy, big words that the average man on the street has never heard of, let alone understand. I felt small when faced with his excellent knowledge of the English knowledge - when the reader feels small, thats not a good thing. He is an educated man, no doubt, but why use a big complicated word, when a smaller one would do instead? It disturbs the flow of the book, and this is meant to be harmless fiction, and not a literary classic! But maybe I'm wrong...
Also, I found myself not 'enjoying' his imagination as I would have hoped. Women with beetle heads; Birds with human bodies; Villians with a dozen eyes, claws, legs, and furs; Frog-like people; all made the book seem...lacking. Maybe this was a deliberate attempt to keep the fantasy as real as possible, by using creatures we know and mixing it up a little...but it did no more than irritate me.
Apart from that, it is a good story and the author tells it well. Slow to start, it picks up and we find ourselves rooting for the heroes, and booing the villians - damn that Motley!
Buy it, try it, and get to work on the overcrowded London tubes a happy person.