Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
China Miéville has been a huge revelation over the last few years. His novels have created hugely imaginative worlds of science fiction and fantasy and won awards including the Arthur C Clarke, Hugo and Nebula.
I started reading his books after receiving a copy of Kraken as a Christmas present. It was a novel dripping in imagination and written with such a superb grasp of language that it drew you completely into the story. So when I won Perdido Street Station in a Twitter comp I came at it with great enthusiasm and high expectations.
At first it didn’t disappoint. It was my first journey into Bas-Lag and being a big Terry Pratchett fan it felt like Discworld after dark and in the hands of a particularly evil Patrician. It is home to numerous intelligent races, some of which are based on myths such as the Egyptian Khepri, and a rich history which is hinted at throughout. The writing is superb again and the story intricate and complex: Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, a human scientist, is charged with a seemingly impossible task which becomes intertwined with a strange and terrible alien that stalks the streets of New Crobuzon.
It just doesn’t manage to hold you for the full 867 pages though; the book is just too long. At first you enjoy the syntax and long words but then the writing changes and becomes quite sloppy, losing its grasp on your attention. The story becomes predictable and then, towards the very end, unbelievable in what is an already fantastic story. It feels like he is groping for an ending, and it is not satisfying when he finds it.
This has definitely not put me off reading more of Miéville’s books though. They deliver on a promise of hugely detailed world and the writing is excellent. For fans of science fiction and fantasy there are some in his collection which are a must read and I look forward to starting them.
A rating of 3.5 out of 5 with a note that reads: “Can do better”.