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WARNING, WHOPPING SPOILERS AHEAD. I write these pages as notes, records and reminders to myself of books I have read. You are welcome to peruse these reviews, but be warned that they will spoil your reading pleasure if you have not already read them.
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Perdido Street Station   by China Mieville

Read: 2007-06-20 Reviewed: 2007-06-20
Re-read factor:
First off, I don't like horror and I don't really like fantasy; this is fantasy-horror-adventure. However, the problem I have with this book is that it can be described in one word: sad.

The book starts off with inter-alien cross-sex, about which the participants feel slightly guilty, and from that point onwards there is not a single passage of joy or happiness. The author takes every opportunity to paint a dark, damp, gangrenous city populated only with freakish downtrodden or corrupt lifeforms.

The adventure starts when an alien turns up after having his wings brutally severed by his own kind, and contracts an extraordinarily clever pseudo-scientist to give him back the power of flight. He starts by getting, through devious means, a collection of flying animals for study, and one of them it turns out was stolen from a secret government laboratory as a small grub. It grows very big, turns into a nasty moth which sucks peoples' brains out, escapes, and sets more of its kind loose. Then the whole book revolves around efforts to kill the things.

In the end, they succeed, but there is no hint of triumphalism, and every single character walks away from the adventure in a worse state than they started. Much worse. For instance, the bird-man that wanted wings ends up ripping the feathers out of his own skin, and goes off walking into the night with aspirations of being a human, beaky and bleeding from every pore.

So I don't like the story, but the writing is something else. It is effortlessly fluid, full of description and vividly conveys an atmosphere. The adventure is full of invention, and there is never a dull moment. Testament to this is the fact that the book is over 860 pages long, but does not read like a weighty tome.

Putting a rating on this book is hard. I can't say I didn't enjoy it, because it immerses you in the atmosphere of a world far escaped from our own and carries you along on an ever-intriguing story. Just a pity it couldn't have made a little effort to give me some joy from the experience.

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