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3.3 out of 5 stars93
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 25 September 2014
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. I admit that I gave up half-way through. Didn't see the point in the book, story, or subject matter. A waste of time, really. Either that or maybe mind-expanding substances were a requirement. Rubbish
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on 16 June 2010
Mieville`s ambition never ceases to amaze. The very idea of writing what is effectively the fourth New Crobuzon novel and then setting it in contemporary London. Is astonishing. The range of sources is legion. Moorcock, Ackroyd, Sinclair, Barker, Dickens of course. And Doom Patrol from the Golden Age of Grant Morrison. The Sweeney. The Mighty Boosh too - imagine the Eel Man and Crack Fox episodes of series three played at fulll strength and you get the real feel of the book. And Wagner`s Götterdämmerung obviously and Marx, Karl not Groucho. Only Mieville could find the comedy in Das Kapiltal`s theory of the abstract quality of labour power under capitalism and then embody it in a character. The comedy is very funny and the horror is terrifying.

And if you don`t know what a macguffin is, look it up with reference to that bloody squid.
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on 13 August 2010
I have just read all the two star reviews of this book and I'm wondering what book they read, it can't have been Kraken by China Mieville. I think it's his best book since The Scar. I had a real problem with The Iron Council, one of the few books I have admited defeat reading, City and the City was ok but not what I would have expected from this inovative author.

Kraken reminded me of the world of King Rat and Un lun dun, the characters were bizarre and fascinating, the plot is a real page turner. I don't need to explain the plot here, it is already covered in other reviews, just please, please, please listen to me and the other 4 and 5 star reviews, this is a return to form for Mr Mieville and I waited impatiently for his next literary outing
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on 3 September 2014
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. I managed to get just over half way through before i gave up. One reader threw it down after 5 pages. Seriously, don't waste your time.
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on 1 January 2013
I didn't finish the book. It just didn't keep me interested enough. Something which isn't interesting enough to finish only deserves a single star.
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on 11 December 2011
I'm a massive fan of Mieville and Kraken is as good as it gets. It's fast moving and so, so inventive and original. Loved the ideas around the trade union backstory. Really interesting take on religions. Brilliant!
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on 13 December 2010
China Mieville does not write fantasy in the modern sense, but rather writes of the fantastic. With "Kraken", Mieville takes a slow start for a chapter or so, leaving you wondering how hints of weird events will develop, before suddenly and with great energy hurling you into the very heart of a weird and fantastical London, maintaining a breakneck pace right to the very end.

The London of "Kraken" is developed as quickly as Mieville can throw ideas and words at the page. The titular Kraken is the preserved corpse of a giant squid which suddenly and impossibly disappears from the museum that protagonist Billy Harrow works at. When police, gangsters and cultists become convinced Billy knows more than he is saying, he is ripped from mundanity and sent fleeing for his life into a world of warring cults, gangsters wielding magical "knacks", immortal hitmen, and London's own tangled landscape come alive

Mieville is a magnificent writer, and his atmospheric London dialogue resonates through the prose as well, making it an immersive, but at times tricky, read. The sheer sense of pace he creates drives you on, but at times works against character development. Billy is something of an enigma throughout, and the motivations of some of the major villains are unnecessarily opaque. However, many other characters are excellent, as his swift flavoursome renderings of London's quirky denizens intrigue you. Had Mieville taken time and leisure over the plot, it would have been far too flabby, and more like the fantasy potboilers he obviously despises. Taken as a whole, his approach to this book is masterful.

Any attempt to place this book in the "Urban Fantasy" genre would be pointless; this is a feast of ideas and allusions (British in-jokes abound throughout), compared to the dry ideas of much of that genre. If anything, this is a dark comedy that happens to revel in fantastical ideas, where the true central character is the dark London that few notice. The book is undoubtedly flawed, but it is exactly this sense of mad genius that creates an exhilarating, mind-blowing tale that ought not to be put down.
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Billy Harrow is in trouble but doesn't know why. A curator at the natural history museum his prize exhibit, the corpse of a giant squid, has gone walkies, glass tank included.
Before he has time to blink his best mate is killed by an assassin and he is thrown head first into a race to discover the truth and keep one step ahead of a city full of maniacs trying to either capture or kill him. Some even think he's a prophet!
This truly is stirring stuff, a novel to divide China's most loyal fans, half love it while the other half shake their heads in disappointment.
London is transformed into a cyberpunk half world where the ordinary mix unknowingly with an underworld of religious zealots all awaiting a judgement day initiated by their god of choice.
As the seemingly dull and magicless Billy is herded around the metropolis he meets the many characters who rule and inhabit an unseen realm, crime kingpin the tattoo, the ancient order who worship the giant squid from beneath the church of mary le bone, the gifted but decidedly untrustworthy special police force, the undead Wati who moves from object to object to get about and surely two of Mievilles greatest creations the fear inspiring Goss & Subby. A heartless killing machine who hunt as mercenaries but kill for pleasure. The cockney patois spouting Goss 'sniffs' out the truth while little boy Subby holds the hapless victims motionless.
A whole host of the weird, unreal and insane populate the novel and each has their own patter, their own beliefs and their own way of living.
Those who have stated this can be difficult to follow are not wrong as at times this can be a confusing ride but that is hardly grounds for dismissing this. If it were then James Joyce would be unheard of and what of William S. Burroughs and William Gibson? Does everything really need to be spelled out and tied up with a bow or can we not simply 'go with the flow'? Because with 'Kraken' Mieville has created such a flow, a speeding stream of vocabulary and ever changing moods that simply picks the reader up and sweeps them along in its wake. Fast paced and never dawdling long in one place this is a ride that enthrals, mystifies and delights. A collection of misfits and the fearsome, the well known and the arcane all jostling and fighting as a London barely recognisable crumbles all around and prepares to embrace its own destruction.
As with William Gibson's 'Neuromancer' so China Mieville set himself an impossibly high taget to aim for with his sublime work 'Perdido street station'. That is a work so fine he need have done no other to have remained a cult figure within his genre. His output since then has seen standards vary until 'The city & the city' which saw him restore some of the much missed head scratching weirdness back into his writing. For my money though this is the first novel since Perdido that see's him blasting away on all 12 cylinders and raising strangeness to new heights and ,heresy I know, but has a new maturity that adds even more confidence to a writer who was hardly the shy & retiring sort to start with.
The pages fly by and an almost 60's like coolness, a racing jive talk employed by the inhabitants of this world mixes the unknowable with humour and dread. It's not always possible to translate just what is being said or done but that simply adds to the feeling of depth and strangeness. We're not supposed to be savvy to what is happening here, how could we be, this is a world awaiting destruction by a giant squid!
Give this a try, maybe it won't be your thing and you'll consign it to the bin, but maybe it will just be the something different and exciting that is so pitifully missing from the world of fantasy writing today.
If you have just about had enough of the next episode in the endless stream of mage apprentice saga's or 'dragon battles of the legendary sword' chronicles then take a look. Whatever you may feel about "kraken' I guarantee you will not feel that you've seen it all before or that it's a cash in in an endless production line of rehashed cliches.
'Kraken' opens a new world of strange and dark characters and beliefs that hold the reader throughout.
China Mieville continues to tread his own path and writes with a skewed vision that elevates him above his peers and keeps his fans as divided as ever in appreciation or disgust.
Love it or hate it? There's only one way to find out.
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on 7 July 2010
Kraken was my first experience of this author's work and I found it an extraordinary mixture of the familiar and the utterly bizarre, often both together. Perhaps that's because I'm a Londoner, interested in cults and crime and most importantly, I was a curator in the Darwin Centre which figures in the plot. Like The Wizard of Oz, the narrative here begins in monochrome and then tips wildly into flying, Technicolour images that will stay with you.
I'm still trying to work out how the rhythm of the language creates emotional responses over and above the straightforward meaning of the words. Must be a knack. In short, I loved the twists and mad flights of fantasy better than anything I've read for years. Cracking!
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on 24 December 2010
There's a point in this book where someone gets swallowed hole by some guy who crawled out of a small box... fare enough there's magic involved but in my mind the description was worse that some 80s cheesy ITV horror show, The Arthur C Clarke Award, wouldn't give it a bronze star.
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