The Grand Dark’s main draw is its steampunk-inspired world-building, which is excellent. Most of the action takes place in the city of Lower Proszawa, which has just won the Great War. The population celebrates with drugs and nonstop parties as fascism strangles the populace. There are semi-intelligent automata and genetically engineered pets and power plants that spew massive clouds of coal dust.
A bike messenger’s life takes a turn when he gets a promotion, and not for the better. He’s exposed to dark secrets of an already dark world and is forced to make some genuinely difficult decisions.
The Grand Dark has a lot of cool moments, but several decisions made by the main character rang false for me. The world felt real, the characters mostly real, but the story itself went a bit off the rails for me in the last half of the book.
Recommendation: If you’re a fan of author China Miéville, then this book is absolutely for you. Get it! But if you’re not (like me), then you may want to skip this one.