Tim Lepczyk's Reviews > Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
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's review
Nov 11, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, four-and-a-half-stars, fantasy, sunbursts-behind-closed-eyes, black, multi-genre
Read in December, 2008

I’m not even sure where to begin this book. I thought it was sci-fi when I began, but it rides that line between sci-fi and fantasy. That is to say it doesn’t fit a category very well. I guess you’d call it steampunk, and this is the first novel I’ve read under that heading.

In terms of creativity, this is one of the most creative books I’ve read. A lot of the negative reviews seems to lament that fact that this novel isn’t formulaic. What a strange complaint. China Mieville has devised a world and cast of characters that is totally unique. Admittedly, it is a dark world where anything resembling hope is quashed and an Orwellian power structure rules the city-state. Again, this is another area of complaint, that it is too dark. It’s not too dark. If you want dark, read Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. The city, New Crobuzon is gritty, filthy and full of vermin. The mood is pervasive and settles into the pores of every resident. However, the novel is not overly graphic it just evokes such harshness in its descriptions.

I will grant at times it is overly descriptive and long, however, that’s what skimming is for. There were small sections where nothing really happened, it was just describing a neighborhood of the city for two pages and didn’t add that much to the narrative. Does that detract from the novel, not really, I’d rather have too much and skim than a skeleton-like setting.

The other point that really impressed me are the risks the writer took. Mieville doesn’t take the easy way out. Betrayal and misfortune visit the characters repeatedly. Perhaps there can be no truly happy endings in New Crobuzon, but I feel like most writers would have tried to make that happen. The ending in Perdido Street Station is the one that works the best.

Mieville explores so many themes in this novel from, what is sentience to race relations? There’s a lot here and it’d definitely worth reading.

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Reading Progress

11/26/2008 page 7
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