Books

Book Review: Kraken by China Miéville

London is burning after a squid goes missing from the museum’s exhibition, which might lead to the end of the world. Billy Harrow was unfortunate enough to discover the disappearance while giving a tour to the museum for the visitors. He was the one who preserved the squid for the exhibition, meaning the strangeness of the whole thing will surely follow him. If that isn’t bad enough, he gets interviewed by odd officers, who break all the norms of being a copper, and they warn him not to say anything about the squid going missing or else… And then the or else happens, Billy becomes a target for the weird London with its cults, assassins from beyond, and Londonmancers. The normalcy is thrown out, and Billy has to accept it or get killed. And did I mention the end of the world is coming?

This is what you call a symphony for my soul. To be an Alice and drop through a hole to Miéville’s London. This is a more elaborated version of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, another London, and book I love dearly. So you won’t get a very impartial review from me. My love for the book is about the magnificence of the world-building and mood Miéville has created. All the weird makes perfect sense, and it fits into the story from the secret police force, telephone beings, familiars on strike, memory angels, cults, and Londonmancer, to name a few. You get the experience it all through the characters (Billy, Marge, and Kath Collingswood) and try to piece together what is going on. That said, the book more than often enough gets caught with the world- and mood-building plus in the prose to obstruct the story’s pacing. There is also so much going on that it makes the book too scattered. But I don’t care. Billy’s discovering a whole new world makes it worth the trouble. Also, Billy is kind of sweet guy to root for. He is that archetypical clueless fellow thrown into a magical world where everyone and everything wants to kill him. I think his character makes the book more approachable and relatable than if Miéville had broken the mold with him. The same is with other characters. They feel slightly stolen from all the other urban fantasy stories. Don’t get me wrong, they are fully functional and not glued on the story, but not so out there to call them unique; not even our copper Kath Collingswood, who is the strangest of the punch.

So did I already say that this is a book about octopi? Those who have read my reviews before know I’m obsessed with octopi. I think they are one of the most wonderful creatures in the world. I’m spellbound by them. So a book about Kraken and the end of the world (another thing I’m partial to) has to be really terrible not to make me have a crush. I have nothing sensible to say about the book. So thank you for reading, and wave to all the octopi you come across ❤

(This is my second time reading the book.)

P.S. Kraken, maybe you come! 

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