some interesting ideas in a book that seemed bloated with words to me. i knew it wasn't going to be a favourite even into the first four pages that introduce us to the reek of the rivers of the city new crobuzon. i thought it was london at first, a gross yet achingly familiar dickensian london, but as the book unfolded i realized that the author had created a different world, steampunk in flavour, with a weird populace that includes humanoids like the scientist isaac who is in love with lin, a khepri sculptress with a human body and the head of a bug. there are also what i think are toad people, the voldanoi (frustratingly i felt not enough time was spent introducing these people and other parts of the universe, and he wasted exposition on wyrman, i could have figured those out because they are akin to gargoyles). there's also cactus people, and bird people called the garuda, and the first two hundred pages tell the story of the two lovers, with lin accepting a sculpting commission with a crime boss, and isaac being engaged by a garuda that wants his wings back. abruptly all hell breaks loose, and then the book becomes about an adventure quest/chase through the city following isaac and a motley crew of cronies.
the most intriguing thing in this universe was the idea of the "remade", people who had bodies that were altered, either out of their own choice, or more usually, as punishments for crimes, usually with a pointed and horrific flair. people have dog parts and metal parts, and sealed mouths, and more eyes, and arms than usual, or less. metamorphosis, transition, body, and self-image are ideas that underpin the novel, with big questions asked, and left unanswered.
there are too many sub-plots, and too many words on things that didn't seem important. all through i felt impatient because everything was taking too long, and that's the reason why i can't give this book a better review. it's inventive, and creepy, but it was hard work for me to get through all of it. there's too much of it, and too many pieces. it's too florid. it's just too too. i would have edited this book right down, and structurally some of it frustrates the hell out of me.. this is a common complaint of mine. so if you like books that meander in the telling, don't mind my two stars.