15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Not Mieville's best work,
This review is from: Kraken (Hardcover)
Despite leaving the bas-lag universe, I've been looking forward to Kraken for a while. Perdido St Station was a work of pure wild imagination; a tour de force of Mieville's rip-roaring mind. I loved The Scar, a more tightly plotted, tightly characterised spin-off from PSS. Even Un Lun Dun was pretty good, and The City and The City was weaker, but relatively enjoyable. Unfortunately, it feels like Mieville is losing the plot. To anyone who has had the pleasure of reading Gaiman's Neverwhere, Kraken feels quite simply derivative. Not only that, but despite an interesting introduction, the plot meanders slowly, aimlessly and without structure towards a twist which feels unjustified - and unfortunately, by the time I reached it, I was bored and didn't care.
Kraken is set in the London we know and some people love, where Billy Harrow works in the Natural History Museum. After pickling a particularly large squid, things take a decidedly weird turn, and Mieville introduces the artifice and pseudomagic of his previous books. Billy plunges into a world alongside his own world, but quite unlike the one he knows - filled with squid cults, origamists who fold more than just paper, teleporters and fire mages. Trying to unfold the mystery, Billy gets in well over his head, and then some.
At first it does feel like the characters are well done, and the plot is fairly linear and well-paced, but after around a quarter of the book, the book no longer gripped me. There's a large cast of characters, but their movements aren't particularly well explained, and the plot isn't particularly well structured. It does have a start, a finish, a few points where you feel like Mieville is trying to set waypoints, but for the rest of the book it meanders aimlessly. And unfortunately, unlike the wonderful, sprawling Perdido St Station, which is so magnificently weird that you don't mind, Kraken just doesn't pull it off. I really hope that Embassytown is better or I'm going to start losing faith.