[By Nic Lindh on Tuesday, 18 December 2007]
Perdido Street Station is one wild ride. Part sci-fi, part Victorian-style steam punk, and part horror, it’s a hard novel to characterize. What’s clear, though, is that China Miéville is blessed with an imagination that works overtime and solid writing skills.
Taking place in New Crobuzon, a nightmarish city populated by humans and an endless amount of strange aliens that all try to scratch out a living in a pitiless and corrupt environment, the novel follows a disgraced scientist as he goes through a series of horrific events.
The strengths of the novel are a solid sense of place and structure as well as a plethora of characters in various stages of derangement. Miéville creates vivid, cinematographic scenes that stay with you—sometimes whether you want them to or not.
But it’s far from a perfect work. The plotting is a bit weak, especially once the novel settles on its monster-hunt theme, and Miéville’s baroque writing style which sometimes adds great atmospehere to the novel also sometimes goes overboard and obscures rather than enhances the story.
Perdido Street Station is interesting and highly imaginative.
The best comparison might be if Neil Gaiman had been locked in a room with Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral set on endless repeat as he worked.