Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perdido Street Station, 3 May 2009
This review is from: Perdido Street Station (Paperback)
China Miéville's most famous novel, "Perdido Street Station" is a book so different from any other I've read that I find it hard to classify as science fiction or fantasy.

This fairly hefty paperback is almost as thick as it is wide, clocking in at over 850 pages of dense descriptive powerhouse writing. Miéville's strength is definitely in his descriptive prowess, something that he is guilty of overusing in this book, but easily the most charming and attractive aspect of the story.

To summarise the story, we are surrounded by a fairly complex weave of plots that all interlink at some point along the way. Most central to the story is that of Isaac dan der Grimnebulin, a scientist who is commissioned to return the power of flight to a paying customer, one Yagharek, who has had his wings removed for the crime of choice-theft of another. While researching various flying creatures, an unknown danger finds its way into his care and gradually develops into a city-wide threat. And from there, all other plots get dragged together into what can only be described as a continual surprise.

The world Miéville has created here is quite bizarre. The races of people in this world are incredibly unusual, ranging from the khepri, a race of women with insect bodies for heads, to the cactacae, a humanoid cactus species, and beyond. The visuals derived from Miéville's writing are often unclear, perhaps designed to confuse the mind, and are occassionally vile and even sickening to imagine.

The great strenghts of this book lie in its depth, it's characterisation and its ultimate end. To reach the end of this book unmoved would be a remarkable feat. It is absolutely worth the effort, though some may find it difficult to complete. The main weakness of the story is its pacing. Often there will be a highly anticipated event about to occur, but the reader is dragged into page after page of over-clarifying or over-description of what's happening around the plot. This tends to remove tension in some of the stronger scenes rather than enhance it. Occassionally you want to tell the author to "get on with it!" and get to the next plot development. That said, the overall feel of the world of Bas-Lag would probably be less impressive if we were not shown such microscopic detail.

What makes me want to recommend this book to people is its fresh approach to stroytelling. There are absurdities, over-the-top moments and characters and the odd scratch of the head, but there are also moments of great invention, serious moral dilemma and more often than not, something great to look forward to only pages ahead.

This is a "weird fiction" book, as described by the author, and while I can safely say that every reader will have a varying opinion on it, I'm sure the vast majority will love it.
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