Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kraken: A Book Review

Book: Kraken
Author: China Mieville

I initially picked up this book for two reasons: 1) I love squids. So, the title appealed to me. 2) I have read Mieville's Un Lun Dun which I thought was brilliant. Thus, I ended up reading Kraken.

Kraken recounts the odd and twisted tale of Billy Harrow, a simple preserver at the Darwin Center who suddenly finds himself in the middle of a police investigation when the giant squid specimen he helped preserve disappears. His life gets even weirder when the police tell him not to speak about the incident, it doesn't show up in any papers, and a strange squirrel keeps watching him. Suddenly, Billy finds that London has much more going on than he thought. Magic is around every corner, there's something big going down (like end of the world big), and he lands in the middle of it. Is Billy really the key to preventing the end of the world or is this all just a big mix-up?

At first, I thought "What in God's name have I gotten myself into?" I consider myself generally intelligent, but at first I could not make heads or tails of the storyline. The British slang, if hilarious, was occasionally hard to follow, but I honestly didn't think that was the problem. As I forged ahead, I realized that being lost was purposeful. I was as lost as Billy and ha the feeling that I was standing to close to a mosaic. I could see the colors but not the picture. After about the first 50 pages, I felt like I could put enough of the storyline together to understand a small notion of what was going on- thank God. Mieville manages to be irreverent yet indisputably honest in his views of religion and all other forms of hocus-pocus. I felt that as I read on I was putting together a puzzle- piece by piece. Overall it was a good read. As per usual, Mieville creates his own version of the world to great effect.

My Rating: I give it a 4/5. It dragged a smidge in some parts but had me laughing out loud at others.

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