Chris 's Reviews > Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
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Feb 04, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: scifi-fan-group, fbr-2011, audiobook, made-my-eyes-bleed
Recommended for: My Worst Enemy

Well then. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by that weak, unfulfilling ending. Why, the entire book was pretty weak and unfulfilling, so why did I hope for otherwise? Simple. I needed hope. Hope that there was a purpose behind all the awards and praise heaping I’ve seen given to this book. Surely there would be a payoff for enduring 600 pages of pretentious nonsense. But alas, I was wrong.

Story wasn’t the goal here, I suppose. More like trying to impress the literary establishment. Well, it did that. I guess if enough people with ties and plates that cost in the hundreds of dollars (or pounds) say that you’re a genius, it must be true.

That said, China Miéville does have a wicked imagination. I loved the world of Bas Lag and the city of New Crobuzon. It’s very imaginative in concept and detail. This made me so excited to read the book, just by the blurb and reviews and summaries. The introduction/prologue had me intrigued.

Unfortunately, it didn’t hold up. While Miéville does have some nice flowing prose (when it’s not overcoated with adverbs and adjectives), his style meanders from the story too much. It wasn’t long before I wasn’t even sure what the story was, or if there even was one.

I was often lost in the science. By the time the story did take off, I didn’t care anymore. I pushed through, switching to audio halfway through. Thank God for John Lee’s narration. He did a great job bringing the story to life. Well, enough to get me through it in just a few days, at least. With Lee reading, if I zoned out for periods of infodump-description Hell, the audio would at least continue to play. When I’d wake up, I’d see that I’d made actual progress rather than simply face-planted myself on my paperback copy.

I think that a big part of my disappointment in Perdido Street Station comes from the fact that last year I read Un Lun Dun, and very much enjoyed it. There was a story there, without all the fancypants literary filler. Maybe because Miéville was writing for kids, he didn’t feel the need to impress his audience. He just told the damn story, and it worked.

I’ll break down the review as follows:

Worldbuilding – 5 stars (excellent potential)
Characters – 3 stars (On the surface they seemed interesting, until digging in)
Plot – 2 stars (when recognizable)
Style – 4 stars (when on track)
Execution – 1 star (often wasn’t on track)
Descriptions – 5-stars when describing something relevant. 1-star when I considered gouging out my eyeballs.
Science – 4-stars for the fictional science itself, as it was very detailed. 1-star as I was forced to read all of the detail.
Cheese – 1 star. Why was cheese mistreated? That was so wrong.
Audio reading – 5-stars. John Lee does a very lively reading.
Overall rating – 1.5 stars.

I could probably go to a full 2-stars, but I figure the book’s too overrated as it is. I’m not contributing to that. I feel duped, that I’d been tricked into reading something I thought would be groundbreaking, original, and totally absorbing. Well, it was original in concept, so I’ll grant the ½ star above a “hated it” rating. It’s better than the worst book out there. I just feel let down from very high expectations.
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Reading Progress

February 4, 2010 – Shelved
February 8, 2010 – Shelved as: scifi-fan-group
July 1, 2011 – Shelved as: fbr-2011
August 31, 2011 – Started Reading
September 1, 2011 –
page 28
4.49%
September 2, 2011 –
page 101
16.21%
September 7, 2011 –
page 148
23.76%
September 8, 2011 –
page 204
32.74%
September 10, 2011 –
page 221
35.47%
September 13, 2011 –
page 269
43.18%
September 14, 2011 –
page 302
48.48%
September 17, 2011 –
page 321
51.52%
November 14, 2011 –
page 363
58.27% "40 pages without breaking a sweat. Audio = awesome idea."
November 14, 2011 – Shelved as: audiobook
November 15, 2011 –
page 467
74.96% "100 pages today thanks to audio. Woohoo!"
November 16, 2011 –
page 571
91.65%
November 17, 2011 – Finished Reading
April 15, 2013 – Shelved as: made-my-eyes-bleed

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Becky Cheese. Oh man. Nice.


Brainycat I totally agree with your sentiments, though I enjoyed the rich detail of the setting and settled on a three star review. That being said, I believe it's the last Miéville book I'm ever going to read.


Denae Oh, Chris, you make me feel better about my crappy review because you said every single thing I wanted to say.


Kaora Yes. Someone else who didn't like this book!


Murkypoke I read your review after I wrote mine and we both experienced pretty much the same thing - lots of try hard imagining but no story, no real plot, cliched characters - very disappointing - although I did bump it to 2 stars...


Chris Murkypoke wrote: "I read your review after I wrote mine and we both experienced pretty much the same thing - lots of try hard imagining but no story, no real plot, cliched characters - very disappointing - although I did bump it to 2 stars......"

I almost did too. There was a lot to like within the miasma.


message 7: by Evgeny (new) - added it

Evgeny I only read Miéville's short stories, but I became convinced he cannot write good endings, something both Stephen King and Neil Gaiman both guilty of. You just confirmed it.


message 8: by Murkypoke (last edited Dec 01, 2015 11:28PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Murkypoke Chris wrote: " There was a lot to like within the miasma."

Hehe - yeah exactly the right word for this book. Reading it was like fighting a thick smelly fog. I have noticed with a few books recently that imagination is necessary but not sufficient and that sums up Miéville I feel.


Markus Story wasn’t the goal here, I suppose. More like trying to impress the literary establishment.

Spot on, Chris. I think I may have enjoyed the book more than you did, but I totally agree with most of your points. Great review.


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