(What's up with this review?)
I realized that so far all of my reviews have been positive, so I figured I better shake things up a bit.
Why oh why can China Mieville be So Very Good sometimes, but So Damn Bad other times? Perdido Street Station and The Scar make the cut for “top 20 books on my shelf that you Must Read.” But then there are books like Iron Council and King Rat that are just really crappy. At least King Rat has an excuse – it was his first novel(la?) so he was still getting his feet under him. He really really wanted to pull off the dark, gritty, gruesome feel that he captured so well in PSS, but he hadn’t figured out yet how to do it subtly instead of bashing you in the face with it.
The story was mediocre, the imagery was mediocre, the violence and grit were more worthy of a cheap horror movie than the subtle-yet-pressing chills that Mieville usually manages to inspire. I didn’t really care about the characters, either, which didn’t help. It took me weeks to finish this (very short) book, because I just didn't feel like reading it.
The one thing that he did well was his descriptions of music – he really did manage to capture the essence of breaks and jungle in words much more effectively than I think I’ve ever heard. I need to pull that text from the book and keep it somewhere; it’s quite impressive.
The Bottom Line: Meh. Thumbs Down. Skip it and read PSS or The Scar instead.