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Kraken by China Mieville
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Kraken (original 2010; edition 2010)

by China Mieville

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2,0201063,315 (3.64)183
Member:Penforhire
Title:Kraken
Authors:China Mieville
Info:Del Rey (2010), Edition: Book Club, Hardcover, 528 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:fantasy, London, magic, apocalypse

Work details

Kraken: An Anatomy by China Miéville (2010)

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English (105)  Czech (1)  All languages (106)
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
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 |
Billy is just another guy who works at a museum making certain squids are okay for bottling. But when the largest specimen goes missing, he suddenly gets roped into a dangerous affair involving a completely different side of London that we have never seen before. And as the magic and mystery of finding the lost specimen continues, a burning apocalypse seems to be sparking in the horizon.

In Mieville's fashion, the Kraken is a rather long, almost tedious read that contains some of the most interesting and new ideas in recent books. Unfortunately, I couldn't really get myself into this world because there was just too much confusion and lack of love for any of the characters. But I am glad I powered through because the ending conclusion was worth all of it.

Also, in a sad and morbid way, I do like how Mieville isn't afraid to kill off characters.

But the thing that is so hard to read about Mieville's books is that there is always so much confusion - but the characters don't actually accomplish that much in the end. There are so many twists and turns, but in the long run... how much of it actually mattered? It leaves a little bit of a annoyed sigh from me at the end when I think about what actually happened in the book. The extended plot twists seem to make so many turns that we lose sight of the actual plot.

I love Billy and his guardian angel towards the end. I love how this main character actually manages to accomplish something.

One to thing to note in this book is how blatantly unreligious it is despite how much it talks about religion. Or perhaps because it talks so much about religion.

All in all, it's a book mildly worth reading because of the concept behind the whole thing. I've never really seen some of these ideas - and new things are quite fascinating.

Three stars because it was decently interesting. Definitely not more because I wasn't really engrossed and there are too many annoying point where I felt like I could have just dropped the book and not cared. But not less, because I did like the ending and most of the story.
Recommended for those who already know they like Mieville's writing style. If you don't, I'd suggest you read something else of his first. Also recommended for those who like longer, twisty books that don't have a definite goal or aim. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
Billy is just another guy who works at a museum making certain squids are okay for bottling. But when the largest specimen goes missing, he suddenly gets roped into a dangerous affair involving a completely different side of London that we have never seen before. And as the magic and mystery of finding the lost specimen continues, a burning apocalypse seems to be sparking in the horizon.

In Mieville's fashion, the Kraken is a rather long, almost tedious read that contains some of the most interesting and new ideas in recent books. Unfortunately, I couldn't really get myself into this world because there was just too much confusion and lack of love for any of the characters. But I am glad I powered through because the ending conclusion was worth all of it.

Also, in a sad and morbid way, I do like how Mieville isn't afraid to kill off characters.

But the thing that is so hard to read about Mieville's books is that there is always so much confusion - but the characters don't actually accomplish that much in the end. There are so many twists and turns, but in the long run... how much of it actually mattered? It leaves a little bit of a annoyed sigh from me at the end when I think about what actually happened in the book. The extended plot twists seem to make so many turns that we lose sight of the actual plot.

I love Billy and his guardian angel towards the end. I love how this main character actually manages to accomplish something.

One to thing to note in this book is how blatantly unreligious it is despite how much it talks about religion. Or perhaps because it talks so much about religion.

All in all, it's a book mildly worth reading because of the concept behind the whole thing. I've never really seen some of these ideas - and new things are quite fascinating.

Three stars because it was decently interesting. Definitely not more because I wasn't really engrossed and there are too many annoying point where I felt like I could have just dropped the book and not cared. But not less, because I did like the ending and most of the story.
Recommended for those who already know they like Mieville's writing style. If you don't, I'd suggest you read something else of his first. Also recommended for those who like longer, twisty books that don't have a definite goal or aim. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
As I am an admirer of Mieville's 'New Crobuzon' trilogy (which I think features some of the most imaginative themes and atmospheric description in recent fantasy writing) I had high expectations of 'Kraken'. The book opened promisingly enough with the theft of a giant squid from the Natural History Museum and hints of a deeper mystery, however my initial interest soon waned. Rather than a latter-day tale of Cthulu-style cultists it appears to be a a kind of sub-Pratchett satire of religious belief (or possibly Darwinism)....very disappointing.. ( )
  Karl_Beech | Aug 22, 2014 |
If reading a book is like walking along a road, with a few detours and side trips, then Kraken is like riding a roller coaster with slow rises, stomach wrenching twists and falls, and breathtaking views.

Miéville gives us a story that opens, innocently enough, in the London Natural History Museum, following a tour guide through the rooms where preserved specimens float in jars, past the jars of animals collected by Darwin himself, to the piece-de-resistance, the giant squid, only to find . . . nothing. It's gone. Tank and all. Billy Harrow, the curator, feels like the earth has opened up under him.

This is the beginning of our adventure which introduces us to a cult which worships the squid (and other cults worshiping other equally bizarre causes), the FSRC (Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit), and a cast of amazing and amazingly talented characters.

Miéville includes bits of humor in this story to remind us not to take it too seriously. For instance, helmeted thugs who, when unhelmeted, are shown to have large hands in place of their heads - knuckleheads. ( )
  mamzel | Jul 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 105 (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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Epigraph
“The green waves break from my sides
As I roll up, forced by my season”

    —Hugh Cook, “The Kraken Wakes”
Dedication
To Mark Bould
Comrade-in-tentacles
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.
Quotations
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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.
(ed.pendragon)

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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