Oh my god, how do I even start reviewing this book?! It is the maddest and most enjoyable science fiction book I have read since I was about 20, when I read A Player of Games by Iain M Banks and the most bonkers read since Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.
It's been a long, slow but brilliant experience. The book is nearly 700 hundred pages long and after every 20 pages or so I've had to take a breather and say to myself. "Did I really read that? What the hell is Mr Mieville on?!"
This is definitely one crazy read. The equivalent of taking serious psychedelic drugs in book form. To keep me on an even keel I have had to talk a lot about this book. It's definitely played with my mind, like it should, and I've had some seriously bad nightmares and have had to off load. But ultimately it's been worth it.
To me this is the work of a crazed genius. A guy who has successfully created a steampunk, Victorianesque, parallel universe of extreme horror.
This book is definitely not everyone's cup of tea but I know a few maddies out there who would bloody love it and thank you so much Nicky Collins for the recommendation. It is the first one of a trilogy, but to be honest I'm totally exhausted now and don't think I could read any thing more for a while. I think my mind will end up frying, like lots of the characters in the book.
One of the joys of reading this book is that I knew absolutely nothing about what it was about apart from the map which looked a bit like London but with it's river called Gross Tar and a district called Smog Bend you knew it wasn't going to be a barrel of laughs living there. Well to put it mildly it was a complete dystopian hell.
The city is populated by humans, remade humans, humaniods with scarab beetle heads and sentient cactus, yes, cactus, along with other species. Including the Construct Council, which is a newly formed hyper intelligent life force formed out of discarded, electrical components all from a rubbish dump. (This force has no emotions at all.) This creature has a brain in complete contrast to the amazing Spider, I loved the spider, which weaves its beautiful web over all space and time fields, lives in all dimensions and speaks in a stream of consciousness. Yes, this book has a weird cast, and it would be totally impossible to put on the big screen.
The government of this city is totally corrupt and controls everything, literally from up on high. Then suddenly the theft of a little green caterpillar from a high security government research facility sends the entire city into meltdown when it pupates and turns into a psychedelic moth with entrancing wings which holds all sentient beings captive and then sucks their thoughts out of their brains leaving their dribbling husk of a body behind.
This one moth frees it's mates and they terrorize the entire city. The sections with the moths is absolutely terrifying and I loved it. These creatures also live in many dimensions and only come into this one when they need to feed on sentient thoughts. (They are like a supremely evil BFG.)
Basically, this book is just about how a small band of misfit people (and a garuda and a frog like thing.) get together and against the odds kill the moths. That's it really. But my god, it's a long read to finally get there. This book is great and in places, because I am a bit sick, it's really funny. It's the work of a genius but it is damn intense and takes some work. Parts of it are a bit flabby and could have been edited but in the end I loved it and highly recommend this book if you are into science fiction, find JRR Tolkein dull as ditch water, and want your brain to be literally fried.