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Kraken [Hardcover]

China Mieville
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
RRP: £17.99
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Book Description

7 May 2010
A dark urban fantasy thriller from one of the all-time masters of the genre

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; 1st Edition edition (7 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333989503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333989500
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 439,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

China Miéville lives and works in London. He is three-time winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award (Perdido Street Station, Iron Council and The City & The City) and has also won the British Fantasy Award twice (Perdido Street Station and The Scar). The City & The City, an existential thriller, was published in 2009 to dazzling critical acclaim and drew comparison with the works of Kafka and Orwell (The Times) and Philip K. Dick (Guardian).

Product Description

Review

'The novel crackles with demotic vocabulary and hip neologisms (''realitysmithing'', ''pistonpunk'') and, as ever with Miéville, London figures prominently - a city crazed with secrets and meaning. Kraken is essentially fantasy with a dusting of urban grit and Miéville's message is clear: the everyday can be extraordinary, and the mundane, magic.' --Financial Times

'While Miéville is far from the first novelist to threaten to obliterate London, he may win the prize for having the most fun along the way... Here we have a prodigious imagination letting rip...The exuberant energy and ambition of Kraken make for a complex novel packed with fascinating and original concepts.' --Guardian

'this epic exercise in cephalopunk eschatology and fundamentalist gang warfare offers the reader a truly delirious ride. Irreverent, funny, full of frenzied action, and unclassifiable except as pure Miéville, Kraken is a feast for its wily creator's fans while giving his detractors a whole new catalog of reasons to clutch their pearls.' --SFReviews.net

'A writer working at the height of his creativity; in terms of sheer imaginative power, Miéville blows most other writers away. Despite its minor flaws, Kraken is an absorbing story that is by turns amusing, shocking and utterly enthralling, and is all wrapped up in the weirdness that Miéville is famed for (along with a healthy dose of gleeful wit). The result is both bizarre and wonderful. Who said the New Weird was dead?' --Speculative Horizons

'Poetic, demented, surprisingly approachable and seething with intelligence, Kraken is a cracking read, no doubt about it.'
--The Speculative Scotsman

'Impressively literate, crafty, and yet reliably China. Recommended.' --SFFWorld.com

'Kraken is urban fantasy as it should be - dark, dangerous, and creative with both a modern and nostalgic feel, and lacking trite pop culture interpretations of mythological monsters covering up romance and wish fulfillment.' --Neth Space

'It's funny, disturbing, incredible inventive and is a meaty read... It's engaging, clever and funny throughout and it also demonstrated to me that Miéville is in a totally different class to most other writers. Kraken is an exceptional and exciting piece of weird fiction.'
--Comic Book Outsiders

'Anyone would struggle to top The City & The City, which bagged China Miéville a third Arthur C Clarke Award this year, yet this leading British fantasy writer again proves he's got imagination tweeting out of his multi-pierced ears by unleashing another cracker with Kraken... Miéville's mind clearly fizzes with curiosity, his work magpie-ing everything from origami to Egyptian death rites. However, it's not just the texture he weaves from them but the inventively engaged way that he expands on them that makes his books so intellectually delightful and, in this case, unusually funny.' --4 stars, Fiction of the Week, Metro

'Fizzing verbal extravagance.' --Daily Mail

'Many of Kraken's best features have already been tackled by other writers of modern speculative fiction, from the saline stink of contemporary Lovecraftian horror to the seedy enchantment of a mysterious hidden London that recalls Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Mieville simply does it better, with slick, ornate prose that often reads as a direct critique of the stale tropes of contemporary sci-fi and fantasy... Mieville is one of the most brilliant writers in the English language today, and he knows it, but he also knows that it is not enough to be clever - magic, excitement and spectacle are just as important. Like an eminent Marxist scholar put in anarchic charge of a fairground ghost train, Mieville wants to make you think, but he also wants you to get you on the ride and scare you out of your skin. So buckle in - and look out for low-flying tentacles.' --Morning Star

'A baroque London adventure... Kraken is a remarkable achievement.'
--Press Association

'The great strength of this book is Mieville's understanding of belief as a way of life.' --Independent

'Simultaneously reverent and brimming with punky attitude, Kraken proves Miéville is ever forging new ground, even when walking the same grey pavements as his readers.'
--Independent on Sunday

'Urban fantasy -- in which the familiar setting of our own world is superimposed over a deeper, more thrilling realm of warring wizards or vampire academies -- has become increasingly formulaic, but Kraken is by China Miéville, who is sui generis, and it is constantly surprising, inventive, and written with a stylish élan too often lacking in this field. The imaginative world-building skills he used to create the world of Bas-Lag in three earlier novels are brought to bear on his home territory of London -- even if it's not quite the city readers will know. Homage is duly paid to the works of Michael Moorcock, Iain Sinclair and Arthur Machen, among others, but beside a few familiar tropes (inevitable when writing about magical traditions) the author displays an impressive level of invention. When so many writers are recycling the same old myths (zombies, vampires, more zombies), Miéville's ability to create new horrors -- and new wonders -- is welcome.' --The Times

'Nobody working in fantasy at the moment has Miéville's range: Kraken winks at both Thomas Pynchon and Judge Dredd, Star Trek and Iain Sinclair. It's also the clearest example yet of Miéville's Lynch-like fascination with confusing surfaces and cores.' --Scotland on Sunday

'I've been reading as many of his books as I can. They're so imaginative and creative. They make you feel comfortable because there are threads of recognition that sort of relate to our world as it is but yet all of these seemingly impossible creatures and creations.'
--Debbie Harry in the Observer

'For criminal gangs and a famous missing architeuthidae, you can't beat China Miéville's fabulous Kraken.' --Independent on Sunday

`An erudite, brilliantly-characterised, fast-paced, psychogeographer's dream. It's like Ackroyd on acid, or possibly squid ink, up there with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Kate Griffin in my personal hoard of Seminal London Fantastic literature' -- Marylebone Journal

Book Description

Deep in the research wing of the Natural History Museum is a prize specimen, something that comes along much less often than once in a lifetime: a perfect, and perfectly preserved, giant squid. But what does it mean when the creature suddenly and impossibly disappears? For curator Billy Harrow it's the start of a headlong pitch into a London of warring cults, surreal magic, apostates and assassins. It might just be that the creature he's been preserving is more than a biological rarity: there are those who are sure it's a god. A god that someone is hoping will end the world.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
145 of 155 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There's a first time for everything 8 May 2010
By Si
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
China Mieville, I've always said, is a genius. I think I need to get that out of the way before I carry on with this review. He is possessed of the most toweringly wicked imagination, fearsome skills of characterisation and plot development and the ability to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, in my case, on occasion, literally. If I were sad enough to sit and write down my top 10 fiction books of all time, 'The City and the City', 'Perdido Street Station' and 'The Scar' would be somewhere amongst them. I've read his book of short stories, 'Looking for Jake', about five times now. And I hate short stories.

However, even genuises have their off-days, and that seems to be what's happened here. I say "seems" because I can only guess at what prompted Mieville to approach this book in the way he did. This is not China Mieville, this is Clive Barker on acid. It's completely mad, perhaps the result of a bet as to how much weirdness Mieville could cram into 400 pages.

The concept is promising, and indeed a short synopsis would sound equally appealing. Mieville's writing style, whilst an acquired taste due to the author's of chain-of-consciousness prose interspersed with quirky colloquialisms, is rich and beautifully delivered. There's humour too, and several laugh-out loud moments, the politically incorrect outbursts of the virtual retro police officers being a case in point. However, a few dozen pages into the novel things start to go bad and the key problem quickly becomes evident. This problem, in summary, is that anything can happen.

Mieville has created a world entirely without rules and without boundaries. This sounds exciting, especially bearing in mind the author's formidable powers of imagination, but what it actually does is rob the plot of all suspense.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So disappointing 19 Jun 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was wondering when China first started writing this. I discovered him with 'Perdido Street Station' and read on from there, I read King Rat after 'The City and the City' and noticed his maturing as a writer. Reading Kraken, over ages, believe me,I wanted to put this book down so many times I can't tell you, but I'm a fan, so I stuck with it. Seems to me that either his Editor has said 'You'll make more money if you dumb down and get on the Gaiman train' , or this was the book after King Rat.
There are of course the Marxist underlays and the quiet jokes to the knowing, but my biggest complaint is that I felt a little bit insulted by this, there is plagerism (and that is an opinion, not an accusation) and the general impression that he wasn't really trying.
I saw England play Algeria last night and felt the same way.
Personally, I blame the publisher, I read Alistair Reynolds 'Terminal World' and felt the same way.
Don't force our greatest writers to churn out pulp, I'll wait for the masterpiece.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A drop in standards 12 July 2010
By C. Hart
Format:Hardcover
First off, it should be known that my biggest fear is the sea; specifically its dark depths and the creatures that lurk within. Like with many people I presume, because I fear this so vehemently, I am at the same time incredibly drawn to it and seek it wherever I can in fiction. Take the scene in James Cameron's The Abyss that sees Ed Harris' character make his slow descent into an abyssal, pitch black canyon on the floor of the ocean. I can watch the scene with ease, but at the same time it scares me magnificently, and compels me beyond belief.

The point to be taken is: I love sea monsters. Miéville's The Scar - an infinitely better book than this one - concerns in large part a gigantic sea monster from another universe called an Avanc; the inclusion and dealing of which I loved (one excellent aspect is Miéville's choice to never describe the creature in any detail; allowing my imagination to run wild with it - making the fear potential increase enormously). So when I saw that Miéville's latest work was to be titled Kraken, I immediately built up high hopes.

All in all though, I'm sad to say that I was let down. I love Miéville (and I haven't even read Perdido Street Station or The City & The City yet), but his latest effort falls considerably short of his abilities in my opinion. New Weird in style Miéville certainly is, but this all too weird for my tastes. From animal servants picketing for their rights to an omniscient invisible flying cartoon pig, this grasps completely in the wrong direction for an altogether ludicrous kind of strange. Add to this a plot full of questions to which we are given all too easy and entirely unsatisfying answers and it doesn't amount to much.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars China folds himself up his own 'orrorfice.... 29 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback
Just finished reading Kraken on my Kindle- the first China novel that I haven't bought in hardback. Glad that I didn't, I would have felt robbed. China Mieville's use of language is fascinating and wondrous, but in this novel he seems to use it to 'show off' for the sake of it. The invention of so much 'stuff' just detracts from the flow and enjoyment of the plot. When any situation can be ignored or solved by simply inventing a new word, or spell, or physic, then where is the suspense?

The novel does not flow because Mieville is too concerned with demonstrating his cleverness. It is immature and will disappoint fans who loved Perdido Street Station, The Scar or Looking For Jake. If you liked Iron Council you may like Kraken purely because I didn't and there may be a correlation there.

Character-wise Kraken is tremendous. Subby and Goss are wonderful- magical graverobbers without Burke & Hare's morals!

The imagination that can invent Tattoo and Wati is worthy of attention but this novel is hard going and not really worth the effort.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish
Could not understand a thing in this book. Don't get me wrong, I'm first in line for the weird and wonderful, but was clueless in this book. Read more
Published 6 days ago by sandstorm
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious tosh
Absolute rubbish. It was one of the books in my book club and I was hugely relieved to find that over 75% of us hated it. Read more
Published 28 days ago by amcarn15
3.0 out of 5 stars Kracking or kracked?
Maybe it was just to clever for me (or maybe it's much vaunted by people just because they don't get it and are too scared to admit it? Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lisa Robins
2.0 out of 5 stars I so wanted to like this book but it really is very poor
This my my first (and probably only) sojourn into China Mieville. It was such a struggle to get through this book that I almost gave up on several occasions. Read more
Published 5 months ago by EvilEdna
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable
Concise characters, you do know who these people are as you read through. Good storyline. I will be following his other books with interest.
Published 5 months ago by Lesley Jordan
2.0 out of 5 stars Did not really work for me
I loved a lot of other Chine Mievelle books. This one just left me confused and unimpressed. I did not finish it.
Published 7 months ago by T. Baumann
4.0 out of 5 stars Plot just a contrivance to hold the fun weirdness together
An amusing romp that ties humour to China Miéville's now established take on "weird fiction". Read more
Published 9 months ago by P. J. Dunn
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
CM seems on autopilot in this one. Hard to believe it's the same author who wrote the brilliant City and the City and Embassytown. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good read
I found this difficult to get into at first but once I did wow. Every chapter contains enough ideas to write another book and his take on magic and a secret world within our own... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr Red
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of jumbled but good ideas
Still think it needed a stronger editor to give it a better overall shape and avoid some of the hops and diversions
Published 13 months ago by J. Mitchell
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