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A slow-burn Alien Invasion
on 14 December 2014
---------------------There are some spoilers-----------------
The eponymous kraken is a sea monster from Scandinavian folklore.
The Kraken Wakes is an apocalyptic speculative fiction novel by John Wyndham, first published in 1953. It is very much the product of its time. The narrative is the backdrop mise-en-scène of the Cold War society. The outlook of the characters are often quite paternalistic, especially when any women are concerned, and some may find that attitude grating. A book reflecting the attitudes and conventions of the time it was written in. The main protagonists in this case are a husband and wife Mike and Phyllis, who are reporters.
Unlike the Trffids, the nature of the disaster comes on in phases and takes place over a period of about ten years, each phase becoming more and more detrimental to humanity. In parallel the Cold War begins to heat up as mistrust between the East and West believing that what is happening is an escalation in tensions, rather than it being caused by an unseen third party. It's an extra-terrestrial invasion. The first things that are seen are "red dots," of fiery shooting star landing in the deepest parts of the world's oceans, which are actually alien craft. It's ventured that they might come from gas giant planet and like living in high pressure environments and hence their need deep-water home, the book then gives over to a series of attacks by the aliens, they never called krakens in the book, climaxing in the scene that starts at beginning of the novel where rising sea water and icebergs in the Channel have entirely changed the weather and landscape of Britain isles, and where by the characters are trying to escape.
While some readers may find it frustrating - I like the idea that the aliens were never explained, or really shown, as everything about them is theoretical, except what they actually do, and there are lots of potential reasons for that. Some have said this novel is not one of the authors best - each to their own, however, for me this book is still worthy of a good 5 stars - after all how many alien invasion narratives, films and the rest show the invasion landing on terra firma with instant detriment to mankind. Dare I say the slow-burn nature of The Kraken Awakes, and the way you know there is trouble out there - but you cannot get to it, or see it makes this book so very interesting.