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Kraken by China Mieville

Kraken (original 2010; edition 2010)

by China Mieville

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3461262,681 (3.63)214
Authors:China Mieville
Info:Del Rey (2010), Edition: Book Club, Hardcover, 528 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fantasy, London, magic, apocalypse

Work details

Kraken: An Anatomy by China Miéville (2010)

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» See also 214 mentions

English (123)  Czech (1)  French (1)  All languages (125)
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
Wildly creative. I loved all the crazy cults and magical abilities the author imagined. A very entertaining and enjoyable read, but it lacked any greater insight or commentary on existence. ( )
  trwm | Oct 6, 2016 |
The book starts off strong and gets you immersed in a wickedly weird world. As per usual with any Mieville novel the language is convoluted, closed and beyond difficult to access. Especially if you're not familiar with every cultural reference that's obliquely and too casually used. Entire passages were completely unreadable even after re-reading them countless times.

This novel felt very similar to Weaveworld by Clive Barker and ironically suffers from the same narrative problem: halfway through, the amount of effort needed to parse every sentence is too much to keep following the plot. The plot at which point isn't going anywhere fast and the main protagonists are simply running around from one (not so shocking anymore) piece of weirdness to the next.

In the end it felt like a thick version of The Crying of Lot 49 where we're constantly asked by the author: oooh look at me write. ( )
  TheCriticalTimes | Aug 29, 2016 |
This was a book from my 2015 SantaThing - and it was a good choice.

First, its actually a fairly typical Urban Fantasy book, but Mieville manages to make the genre completely his own - No odd romance, no super incompetent characters, no overly competent hero types - it manages to stay human in a very odd world.

The back story of this book makes sense, the world is well rounded. London is a as much a character of this book as the others. I especially liked the incorporal Union Leader of the familiars, Wati. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | May 20, 2016 |
I'm done with Mieville. I just don't get the critic's love for this guy, but I suspect that because I'm not British, I'm not supposed to. He has a penchant for taking everything that annoys me about Neil Gaiman and concentrates it, leaving out the concise story line.

A giant squid suddenly vanishes from a natural history museum in London. The investigation that follows has all of the coherence of a meandering Britcom without anything really funny. Eventually, suspicion turns to a cult who worships a squid god. (Squid, really? Everyone knows the octopus is the king among tentacled critters!)

Mieville's prose really gets in the way of making this any sort of page turner. In America, thanks to Hollywood we equate thick cockney accents with less-educated characters, not scientists, so there is an irritation caused by deviating from the expected. The main plot is often lost in the dialog,

I do have to give him props though for name-dropping GG Alin among others. That part at least made me smile. ( )
  JeffV | Apr 30, 2016 |
Kraken by China Miéville is definitely in his New Weird genre. Set in a London you won't recognize (reminiscent of Un Lun Dun and The City and the City) Miéville has created a totally new and weird world full of myths, cultists, magic, and murder. In the opening of Kraken, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist at the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum is giving a tour when the prize specimen, Architeuthis dux, or the giant squid and the tank it is preserved in are discovered to be missing.

This crime results in Billy's introduction to a previously hidden population of London, including a cult of squid worshippers (the Congregation of God Kraken), the criminal mastermind called Tattoo (who is literally a tattoo), the FSRC (the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit), Wati (a spirit from ancient Egypt), and Londonmancers. The most terrifying characters, feared by everyone, are the violent duo Goss and Subby, a malevolent old man and a seemingly simple boy. The theft of the squid has somehow set into motion an apocalypse... or two.

Kraken's roots are firmly planted in geek culture. It is both satire and parody. There are lots of references and allusions to various science fiction stories and shows, both the new and classic. There are prototypical characters found in almost all science fiction and fantasy novels, but Miéville's characters are all given a different little twist. Actually, the supporting cast of characters is so varied that it can threaten to overshadow the main characters.

Miéville's eloquent prose continues here. Readers have to pay careful attention to his word choice and descriptions. Sometimes this made reading Kraken feel like work rather than pleasure - until another little gem of a description or word play came up and then I appreciated the care taken in the word choices. Still, at over 500 pages, sometimes a reader will want a break from quite so much thought needed. (Or perhaps my week of work made me want more pure pleasure in the reading rather than careful consideration of the specific words.)

I did feel that Kraken could have been edited down a bit for length. There were a few places where the plot seemed to stall and wander aimlessly. Admittedly, Miéville did get it back under control quickly, but still the places where the plot seemed to meander were evident. All in all, though, I still enjoy Miéville and am going to read more of his previous novels.
Highly Recommended - http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/ ( )
1 vote SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 123 (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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

(summary from another edition)

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