Kraken by China Mieville
The sea is full of saints.
Billy works in the Natural History Museum in London. The book opens with him running through his usual spiel on the exhibits of Darwin House, but he knows what everyone has come to see. The giant squid is the highlight of the tour. Trouble is, it seems to have gone missing! Which is impossible. I mean it is a giant squid in a giant tank, why on earth would anyone want to steal it. And how? But gone it is. And all of a sudden Billy finds himself in the middle of a London he knows nothing about. Where people with knacks might help him out, or quite possibly be about to bring about the end of the world. A world with Kraken Gods, and speaking tattoos, and gunfarmers, and invisible piggy spirity things.
I really loved this book.
Every book by Miéville that I’ve read I’ve enjoyed, but I think this may well be the best yet, combining as it does, Miéville’s strange imagination with humour, and of course the impending end of the world. A world where magicians familiars are unionised and out on strike. Sorry, didn’t mean to bring that up here, but I just think it is a brilliant idea. Because, of course! of course they would be underpayed and abused in some cases, and so need to get organised.
And Dane, one of the worshippers of the Kraken. He’s Billy’s guide and protector, or is he? but he is also such a wonderful character. I loved him. Billy not quite as much, although he was a very engaging narrator I never felt for him as much as I did for Dane.
It is a twisting monster of a book, in much the same way as a squids tentacles are twisty and monstrous, but it is so good that you will stay with it, even if, like Billy, you aren’t sure at all about what is going on. And then, when you think you know who the bad-guy is, well… maybe there is someone else out there pulling the strings. Or being pulled?
My one little gripe is Show Spoiler ▼
. Apart from that I have very little to complain about with this book. And so much to enjoy! And I can’t end without a mention of the geeky-jokes, the fun that Miéville must have had with this book. My favourite being the Star-Trek fan who could “transport” things, not only things, but himself too. Which is not a good thing, as Dane points out:
Beam it up? What you done is ripped a man apart then stuck his bits back together and made them walk around. He died. Get me? The man’s dead. And the man at the other end only thinks he’s the same man. He ain’t. He only just got born. He’s got the other’s memories, yeah, but he’s newborn. That Enterprise, they keep killing themselves and replacing themselves with clones of dead people. That is some macabre shit. That ship’s full of Xerox copies of people who died.