Book review: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

Perdido Street StationPerdido Street Station by China Miéville
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Seriously, just wow.

Isaac, a scientist living on the fringes of respectability in the sprawling polluted city of New Crobuzon, works quietly on his theories and experiments in the warehouse-turned-laboratory he shares with two other scientists. He meets his friends for drinks and dinner and debate; and he revels in his secretive relationship with his lover, Lin. Lin, an artist, an outcast member of the Khepri, an insectoid race, struggles to come to terms with her self-imposed exile while she navigates a society filled with prejudice and bigotry.

Both of them accept commissions from strangers: Isaac is engaged by one of the Garudi, a bird-like race, to replace his lost wings; and Lin is employed by an underworld crime boss, an individual who has undergone so many surgeries and body enhancements that no one can determine what his original race may have been, to sculpt his monstrous life-size likeness. These commissions shatter Lin’s and Isaac’s quiet lives and lead them down, literally, into the city’s murky depths along unexpected and dangerous paths.

Perdido Street Station is astonishing, brilliant, frightening, grotesque, sickening, disturbing, and jaw-droppingly amazing. The reader is plunged headlong with Lin and Isaac into the rabbit warren of New Crobuzon’s slums and ghettos, where he lives and breathes and struggles and fights next to the human and non-human denizens of those squalid neighborhoods oozing with magic and technology and crime and grime and gore and the occasional glitter of kindness.

A book like this may not be for everyone, and it’s certainly not an easy read, both vocabulary-wise — I had to resort to my dictionary more than once — and content-wise, but it’s well worth making the effort. Don’t miss it.

(For mature audiences only. Contains adult language and explicit sex.)

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