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Kraken: An Anatomy by China Miéville

Kraken: An Anatomy (2010)

by China Miéville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (109)  Czech (1)  All languages (110)
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
The profusion of inventive detail in this fantastical London tale makes it both fascinating and somewhat bewildering. ( )
  dazzyj | Mar 2, 2015 |
Kraken begins with a vanishing squid. Its disappearance is met by Billy Harrow with confusion and dismay, as the giant squid serves as the climax of his tour at London's Natural History Museum. For Billy, this disappearance marks the beginning of an absurd and epic journey into London's underground world of mystery, cults, and magic. This book is not an enormous departure from Mieville's other works (in that it still combines elements of scifi, fantasy, magic, and a surreal imagining of London), but you might not/probably will not like it if you're looking for the hard scifi and more serious tone of New Crobuzon. Instead, this reminded me quite a bit of Neil Gaiman in its tone, humor, and generally playful nature. If you need a break from heavy literature but still want something smart and entertaining, this is a great book to turn to. ( )
1 vote cattylj | Feb 28, 2015 |
When I've finished a book and I miss the characters--that's when I can tell I've read a great book. This was a great book!! ( )
  AlisonLea | Jan 10, 2015 |
This was my first foray into Mieville, and what a delight it was. He's a great storyteller. I'd heard his prose described as "muscular", and how apt that description is! I look up more definitions when I read his books than I do when reading anyone else. I love the strangeness and oddities of his stories. The slightly Lovecraftian undertone to this novel was wonderful. Utterly unique. He wants to revamp the genre, and he's well on his way. Every book is better than the last. ( )
  bibliogypsy1127 | Jan 4, 2015 |
The word “inventive” describes China Miéville’s "Kraken" the way “okay-looking” describes Halle Berry or Charlize Theron. Mr. Miéville turns London into a living creature whose viscera can be read, and every character within it has some magical power or other (“knack”), including the cops. The inventions continue and continue: once the dead giant squid is beamed out of the science museum, tank and all, the action ratchets ever upward, leading to talking tattoos, a London embassy belonging to and occupied by the sea, a haruspex who reads London’s future when part of its pavement is dug up (and the city bleeds), and much, much more.

We view these strange events through the eyes of Billy Harrow, a curator at the museum where the giant squid (the “kraken”) had been on display. He finds himself allied to Dane, one of the true believers of the kraken cult. While hunting down the missing animal (one god among a panoply in this wild premise), they snoop for clues, run for their lives, gain powers, and interact with all manner of creative peril. At length, all understand that the end of the world threatens, and Billy has to try to save the day.

This is truly a tour de force of invention by Miéville, that most inventive of novelists. This particular alternate universe features powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men – and everyone has them. The interest comes from the utterly endless variety the author has conjured up, and I’ll tell you, I was exhausted by it at the end. The breathless climax is a rewarding bit, consistently far-fetched and outré as all that has gone before. This is a highly ambitious piece, exceeding 500 pages, and never once are you allowed to catch your breath. Mr. Miéville charges through it all, and keeps us following along, wondering what impossible thing will happen next, and how it will be accomplished. Charge in, and get ready to have your mind stretched. ( )
  LukeS | Oct 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
Kraken utilises Miéville’s common setting of London, albeit a strange London. This otherness beside the familiar is a strand in his work evident from King Rat and Un Lun Dun through to THE CITY AND YTIC EHT.

This one started out as if it may have been written with a film or TV adaptation in mind - one with a potentially light-hearted take - but soon veers off down strange Miévillean byways which may be unfilmable. For these are the end times and cultists worshipping all manner of weird gods abound.

It begins with a kind of locked room mystery as a giant squid, Architeuthis, has been stolen - formalin, tank and all - from its stance in the Darwin Centre, a natural history museum where Billy Harrow is a curator. He helped to prepare the squid for show and is thought to hold the knowledge that might allow all those interested in its recovery to find it. The police fundamentalist and cult squad, the FSRC, is called in to help investigate the disappearance which becomes more involved when Billy discovers a body pickled (in too small a jar) in the museum’s basement. And these are merely the first strangenesses to be encountered in this book. We also have the consciousness of a man embedded within a tattoo, a tattoo which moves and speaks. Then there is the double act of Goss and Subby - two shapeshifting baddies from out of time (they shift other people’s shapes) - and weird sects, cults and mancers of all sorts.

Never short of incident and brimming with plot the novel is probably a bit too convoluted, with too many characters for its own good, and its one-damn-strange-thing-after-another-ness can verge on overkill. But this is an unashamed fantasy, a form to which I am antipathetic when it is taken to extremes; and Miéville is not one for restraint.

While Kraken sometimes skirts along the edge of comedy it never fully embraces it. There are too many killings and acts of violence for comedy to sit comfortably. I might have liked the novel better if it had. Its main fault is that it never manages to settle on which sort of book it is meant to be, straddling various narrative stools such as police procedural, one man against the odds, woman in search of the truth about her vanished lover, etc.
added by jackdeighton | editA Son Of The Rock, Jack Deighton (Jan 29, 2011)
Miéville has done what all great science-fiction has done—and great so-called literary fiction, when it gets around to it—provide a nuanced, highly imagined critique of the zeitgeist, dressed up in a crackerjack story.
""... "Kraken" is, no mistake, a literary work. The hint is in the subtitle, "An Anatomy," because Miéville is exploring the gap between the prosaic squid and the mythic Kraken, between the mundane ground of everyday life and the sacred. What precisely turns a fish into a god? What is the anatomy of a legend? And how do gods manifest themselves in our world?
...Miéville's best work since "Perdido Street Station."

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miéville, Chinaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Higurashi, MasamichiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valdez, Elisa LazoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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“The green waves break from my sides
As I roll up, forced by my season”

    —Hugh Cook, “The Kraken Wakes”
To Mark Bould
First words
An everyday doomsayer in sandwich-board abruptly walked away from what over the last several days had been his pitch, by the gates of a museum.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Book description
Haiku summary
Welcome to London
and an underground of cults,
cops, baddies and ... squid.

No descriptions found.

Being chased by cults, a maniac, and the sorcerers of the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit, cephalopod specialist Billy Harrow inadvertently learns that he holds the key to finding a missing squid--a squid that just happens to be an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.… (more)

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