Review – Kraken
  • Posted:
  • May 20, 2011

Kraken by China Mieville was this month’s book read in my collective group of bookish ladies. Surprisingly, I did not choose it, though I adore Mieville with an inexplicable passion (he’s still the only author I want having my back in a bar fight). Kraken, however, for all its awesome weirdness, is a hard book to love.

It starts in London in the Natural History museum. Curator Billy Harrow has helped to preserve and display a fine specimen – a forty foot squid perfectly intact. It’s the crowned jewel of the museum until the day it gets stolen. Billy gets drawn into a strange world from this point out in an attempt to locate it; a world of talking tattoos, the FSRC (Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit), Squid Cultists, entrails reading Londonmancers, wizards, ancient Egyptian spirited golems, and work striking animal familiars. Oh, and the end of the world (perfect for the May 21st pre-Rapture read!). Yeah, it’s a whole lot of weird and I usually love me a whole lot of weird.

… However….

Mieville needed to pull back on this a little and it would have been awesome. His prose is beautiful, magnificently constructed as per usual, but it’s a lot of that in between really nifty plot points and the magnificent, beautiful between gets tedious right quick. Very. Tedious. Like, hard to slog through kind of tedious. Like, wanting to skip whole bits of the book kind of tedious. Mieville is notoriously awesome on his beginnings and his ends, but there’s a lot of middle to get through in this. It could have easily lost one hundred pages… and that’s being generous.

I would recommend Mieville for anyone up for a little “huh? Weird!” kind of books. Start with Perdido St. Station though. Leave Kraken until you’re in love with him. It will be easier to read once you have a love affair preexisting with him already.

3.5 stars out of 5.

– BP

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