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Perdido Street Station Paperback – Deckle Edge, February 27, 2001
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Generous, gaudy, grand, grotesque, gigantic, grim, grimy, and glorious, Perdito Street Station is a bloody fascinating book. It's also so massive that you may begin to feel you're getting too much of a good thing; just slow down and enjoy.
Yes, but what is Perdido Street Station about? To oversimplify: the eccentric scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is hired to restore the power of flight to a cruelly de-winged birdman. Isaac's secret lover is Lin, an artist of the khepri, a humano-insectoid race; theirs is a forbidden relationship. Lin is hired (rather against her will) by a mysterious crime boss to capture his horrifying likeness in the unique khepri art form. Isaac's quest for flying things to study leads to verification of his controversial unified theory of the strange sciences of his world. It also brings him an odd, unknown grub stolen from a secret government experiment so perilous it is sold to a ruthless drug lord--the same crime boss who hired Lin. The grub emerges from its cocoon, becomes an extraordinarily dangerous monster, and escapes Isaac's lab to ravage New Crobuzon, even as his discovery becomes known to a hidden, powerful, and sinister intelligence. Lin disappears and Isaac finds himself pursued by the monster, the drug lord, the government and armies of New Crobuzon, and other, more bizarre factions, not all confined to his world. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Momentum built in the story is repeatedly lost when a long descriptive passage is encountered. The focus on the characters and events is often lost, and I found myself feeling as if the prose was an intermission to the story, rather than a part of it. Ultimately, the story and the prose compete with each other so much that I couldn't really gauge whether the story was very good at all.
Would I recommend Perdido Street Station? Well, that depends on what kind of writing you like. If you enjoy lots of adjective-laden phrases painting verbal pictures, you'll probably like the way Mieville portrays the environs of his gritty, surreal, bizarre city. If you're looking for a good, entertaining story, you might be disappointed as I was. Perdido Street Station isn't bad - it's just not for everyone.
Beyond the incredible scenery is an almost Victorian moralistic plot, where the protagonist is forced to deal with the consequences of his innocent-seeming research into methods of restoring flight to a criminal garuda bird-man. His fight against the slake-moths that were inadvertently freed as a result of one of his investigations forms the main story line, and slowly builds to an (almost) exciting story line. However...
Mieville's style is very densely descriptive. In the beginning of the book, this is excellent, as it paints a very dark, depressive, intimate picture of the city and its inhabitants. As the plot unfolds and becomes more pressing, though, this same style and repeated images become an obstacle to getting the story told. At the very moments when tension has been raised to high levels, we step out for two to three pages at a time for more descriptions, effectively destroying the pacing of the story. I think this book could have been considerably improved by some heavy cutting of this material in the latter stages of the book.
There are places where the plot could have been tightened.Read more ›
New Crobuzon is not a happy place. It is not a clean place. It smells bad in many, many ways. Everyone is dirty. Lots of people are malformed, maimed, diseased, corrupt, stupid, venal and miscellaneously repulsive. No one has ever considered creating a working sewer system or a municipal trash pick-up. Every neighborhood is on the wrong side of the tracks form the Black Hole of Calcutta. This may put you off.
Here's my advice: After about the fourth time or so that Mr. Mieville gets completely carried away with a rapturous description of his pustulant creatiion, just skip ahead a paragraph or two until he gets back to the story. After about page 100 or so these odiferous digressions start to taper off and you can just enjoy his abundant creativity.
Did I like the book? Yes, but it wasn't easy. Mieville seems to believe that he cannot impress upon the reader too much how utterly degraded and thoroughly repellant his New Crobuzon is. He is wrong. This reader, at least, got the picture PDQ and just found this incessant rhapsodizing about filth tedious and annoying. If I want to know this much about sewage I can go look in my septic tank.
OK, having said all that, I must line up with other readers who have pointed to the sheer natural force of imagination at work here, the tumble of language, the just-right mix of humor and tragedy. Suffice it to say that I have The Scar and The Iron Council on deck and waiting. I just hope Mieville gives me credit for being able to remember the sanitation situation.
That said, I can't believe the fatal flaws in storytelling and characterization generally slipped under their radar.
I felt there were too many characters in play. One significant figure doesn't arrive until the last 20 pages! And I lost track of the villains; Vermishank, Motley, the slake moths, the mayor, etc. Some players meet abrupt ends, and some disappear for literally dozens of pages. My favorite character is given a major subplot early on, only to vanish for half the book!
The basic mechanics of the story suffer a similar fate. As Mieville bounces from character to character, plot threads are introduced, dropped, and mostly resolved (if at all) in a very unsatisfying way, especially after 710 pages of waiting to see how things turn out. In the end (spoiler alert), the remaining villains vanish from the stage, Isaac's apparent main goal is suddenly abandoned, and the heroes limp off into the sunset after horrible losses. I wasn't expecting "happily ever after," but the ending seemed half-baked indeed.
A final note: Mieville is fond of the words "stink," "stench," "greasy," "filth," and scatalogical terms I won't type here. Halfway through the book, I found myself thinking, "Okay, New Crobuzon stinks. I get it."
Overall, there's a lot of potential here, and genre crossover appeal, but I prefer tidier storytelling.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing author, smart writing, wonderful world-building, fanatastic characters, twisted plot, grotesque, angelic,Published 2 days ago by Ryan Reavis
As a new author, I find this book to be beautifully written. I enjoyed the subtle and evocative narrative.
Anthony D. Woods
c/o Velvet Tears: Breaking the Silence
This dark steampunk novel is beautifully written with well-developed characters and an intriguing plot. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Elenora R. Sabin
Someone who likes steampunk would probably give this 5 stars. I found the pseudo-science a bit annoying and the build-up to the peak of the narrative rather slow, probably because... Read morePublished 18 days ago by Mrs D A Jones
The overuse of unknown vocabulary got in the way of the story line.Published 18 days ago by Barbara Snider
It's such a sprawling, insane beast of a thing that should, really, probably only be a novella at most, but manages to be absurdly compelling to the very... Read more
One of the best books I've read in a while. Great environment, great characters, great imagination.Published 18 days ago by hfjordan
I liked Kraken by Mieville, so decided to try this book after some recommendations. It wasn't for me. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Amazon Customer
I love this author's work. My first book of his was Kraken, which is still my favorite, but I love everything I've read of his. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Meg Larson