Book Review: Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

Recommended for: people who love language and/or steampunk readers

Perdido Street Station is not an easy book by any stretch of the imagination. It had dense, lush, overwhelming language. It deftly weaves a world that is parallel to the industrial revolution in a place that isn’t and is England. There are multiple races and a social structure we see only ever as an outsider. There are things left unknown and tiny subplots that run through the book that get resolved only if you pay attention.

The best part of the book for me is the writing. I love immersing myself in a book that has a voice and pattern all its own. And I adore this writing. The vocabulary is exquisite and poetic. The pace gathers slowly until the ending is rocketing at you.

New Corbuzon is not a pretty place. Not in politics, not in race relations, not in finances, or in the general world. There is smog and dirt and crime. There’s union strikes and thaumaturgical complexities that you grow into understand. The most horrifying parts of the story are the understated aspects of the world that you see from the corner of your eye as you read. Things like ReMaking and the second class citizenry that comes from marginalizing a race.

The story is tight, even when it’s sprawling. There is always more than one side to the story, though obviously we side with the heroes. The perspectives are kept close to the characters, even though we visit characters on different sides. The weaving of the different story lines is elegant and unexpected, like the best of William Gibson’s work.

This is definitely not a book to pick up lightly, but if you have the time to delve into it, it’s so worth it. It’s not mind-candy like Simon R. Green or Richard Kadrey. This is more of a sumptuous feast that you need to linger over and possible accompany with a glass of rich wine.

I highly recommend it.


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