“Perdido Street Station” easily takes me to both a familiar and an utterly strange world from the first page. It first remind me to a street in Agrabah from Aladdin, and then to a steampunk-ized version of our world where mechanical things with gears, pistons, steams, on an uneven arrangements roaming clumsily, noisily, mechanically. Going deeper into this world, however, we see a scarred world, wondrous, fantastical, but also made of stuffs from nightmares. Terrifying, almost repulsive at times. A fantasy genre unlike most of its brethren.
This is the first time I read China Miéville and I was led to believe that “Perdido Street Station” is going to be a hard science-fiction because I had intended to read a hard science-fiction when I finally pick “Perdido” from my long queue of “to-read” section from my library.
And so I was a bit surprised after flipping the first few pages and found out that “Perdido” is not strictly belongs to science-fiction genre, but rather to fantasy genre. And not the High-kind fantasy I used to read too.
But my surprise turns into pleasant as I quickly found my way into the world of “Perdido Street Station,” getting acquainted with its many inhabitants although they were not always pleasant or easy to read (and imagine) to.
It takes a little while for the story to get its engine going. Most of early chapters were devoted to characters as they were introduced, and the many threads that eventually led to the story’s fight against its main antagonist in a series of epic action set-pieces.
The story is also not particularly kind to its designated protagonists as well. I personally feel that this kind of direction is a rather refreshing although obviously won’t bode well to readers who seek a “feel-good” story.
In fear of spoiling the story more than it already has, let’s just say that there are a lot of ways the story could have ended that would leave its readers in a pleasant smile, rather than perhaps, a bit too real, and a bit too depressing direction that Miéville chose.
With so many fantasy books being adapted to a movie or a tv series, as I read this book, I kept thinking about the feasibility of this book turned into a moving picture. It has many great ingredients. A lot of visually enchanting characters, there are magic involved, also machines, epic battles with guns and beasts and multi-dimension movements (think of X-Men’s Nightcrawler), a sprawling city, a mysterious desert, a haunted forest, even a bit disgusting Red district. Although, well, it is a bit depressing and a bit hard to enjoy. But hey, Game of Thrones (or A Song of Ice and Fire) works.
All in all, great intro to Miéville although I’m going to venture to a lighter literature first before heading back to Miéville’s Bas-Lag. But I’m definitely going to be back.
Rating: ★★★ – Great read. A bit hard to swallow at first, and its ending is perhaps a bit too depressing for some.