Kraken

Author: China Miéville

Billy Harrow lives a quiet, if somewhat geeky, life as a curator at the Natural History Museum in London–taking visitors on tours and showing off the Architeuthis specimen that he helped to preserve.That is, until said specimen disappears without a trace. In the aftermath of the squid’s disappearance, Billy finds himself thrown into a world he never imagined existed. A darker, deeper side of London, full of magic and myth . . . . A side which is suddenly inexplicably interested in the squid. And in Billy Harrow.

While reading Kraken, I went through cycles of opinion, and having finished it, I’m still not quite sure what I think. This book is most certainly geeky, to the point that I missed or didn’t understand numerous references that were made. (Out-geeked. Wow.) I’ve heard several reviewers describe it as comedic or funny, but I just can’t see it. I would say Kraken compares most closely to Gaiman’s Neverwhere and some of de Lint’s urban fantasies. It’s full of action, mystery, city life, and a creative, modern take on magic–all colored with a generous dose of irreverence. The weird theologies and profuse usage of adult language kind of got to me, I’ll admit. On a positive note, I enjoyed the character building–Miéville does a nice job of adding supporting details to flesh out even minor characters, which is nice. As for the plot, it’s like a whirlwind tour of all the crazy urban fantasy ideas the author could dream up, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. It certainly kept the story moving, but sometimes I had no idea where the author was going with events–of course, that’s basically the situation the characters were in too, so it kind of works. One outstanding feature is Miéville’s wordsmithing: he creates words that, once you’ve read them, you instantly understand and feel like you should have known them all along. So yeah, I have mixed opinions about Kraken, but overall, it’s a solid urban fantasy–for an 18+ audience, at least.

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