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on 17 April 2012
Firstly, as a cephalopod admirer, I was wanting this book to be easy and not overly scientific to read, and I can say now that it is a very easy read. It does go into some quite scientific aspects in places, but it builds towards it in a way that is digestable. I like the personal touches and how the writer expresses her experience(s). There are some good references throughout, to historical reflections on experiences with squid and mythology also. All round, 7/10.
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on 24 February 2013
I just finished this book today, though I did begin skimming a little towards the end.

It came up in my Amazon recommendations for some reason, possibly due to my having purchased '20,000 leagues under the sea' a while ago. I thought it would make an unusual read, a bit of a swerve ball in my reading list.

The book itself is a superb edition. It is small enough to be carried around with you and the pages are of a high quality.

I did enjoy the book and certainly improved my knowledge of cephalopods! the science is written in an easily digestible way without missing any necessary information. Wendy Williams presented a subject that I essentially had no real interest in, in a way that was easily readable and left me feeling as though I had learned something.

The reason I have only rated 'Kraken' three stars is because I couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed with a few things.

First and foremost: Lack of colour pictures. There is much written about the chromatophores and their ability to change colour - It would have been great to have some images displaying these colours and patterns. The pictures in the book are limited to small, low quality black and white prints slotted in amongst the paragraphs of texts. Given the subject of the book it strikes me the author missed a trick in not giving us some high quality images of these amazing creatures.

Furthermore, I assumed from the title that there would be slightly more made of the mythology of the Squid, maybe more anecdotes or old sea tales. As it is the book is relentlessly scientific, which I felt took some of the fun out of it. There wasn't any speculation of 'what else maybe lurking down there' or suchlike. Whilst the science of the cephalopods is fascinating enough, it did get a bit tiresome and as I've mentioned, I did start to skim a bit toward the end.

All in all a good read, very informative and suprising. I would just liked a few colour images and perhaps (rightly or wrongly) a little sensationalising!!
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VINE VOICEon 21 February 2013
This book is a popular review of the latest science around the biology of the Cephalopoda, not just the squid of the title but also various octopus, cuttlefish and the Nautilus. Many of us will be familiar with these animals as food, calamari or pulpo, but their importance goes far beyond that. As the biologists who study cephalopods, teuthologists, uncover more data on these animals the more questions they need to answer. The science of squids and their ilk has led to advances in evolutionary biology, neuroscience, fisheries ecology and ethology.

Wendy Williams uses this book to review the state of modern teuthology, concentrating on the swuid including the little know but fascinating Giant and Colossal Squid and our search to discover more about them as well as their passage from creatures of myth to fully described and named species. The ecology of the Humboldt Squid, its researchers and what their research may reveal about the changing ecology of the oceans features a lot in the book but so does the importance of squid neurons in understanding how the human nervous system works, the evolution of the eye and the amazing life cycle of all cephalapods, exemplified by the Pacific Giant Octopus. Through it all the question of cephalaopd intelligence comes through, how it compares to mammalian intelligence and how these animals learn, communicate and develop forms a fascinating and intriguing major theme of the book.

Williams is a good author she lets the scientists tell their stories and writes around these. The book is beautiful, with an old fashioned feel to the paper and that and the splendid cover wre what first attracted me to it. Once I started it I found it easy to read and, despite, probably having a bit more knowledge about these animals than the average reader I found out plenty of new information which showed why these animals fascinate the scientist heroes of the book.
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on 24 June 2011
This book just blew me away. The fascinating world of squid and other cephalopoda is opened up to the non biologist world in amazing detail. I've always been fascinated by these amazing creatures, but I learned so much more from reading this. The passion for the subject and the people involved comes through, the science is easy to digest (probably more easy to digest than the flesh of the giant squid anyway)
The book itself is beautiful too, rarely is so much thought put into the package.
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A seriously fascinating read. If you like to pigeon hole things, I'd have to say this would be popular science. If you're a squid specialist, you'll probably know everything in this book, but as there aren't many of them in the world, lets assume you'll learn a lot. That's if you can keep an open mind about the interestingness of cephalopods.

What's a cephalopod I hear you ask? It's a family of spineless creatures that includes squid, octopus and cuttlefish. This book covers all three but does focus on squid, as the title suggests. You'll be amazed by the medical advances that have been made thanks to the research carried out on squid. I even learned a little about the human nervous system, although I did start to tune out a little when it got a bit complex.

On occasion the book branches out to cover other areas of behavioural research, such as a charming story of how the finch learns to sing. Another researcher, carries out an experiment with his pet dog and yellow snow.

There's a chapter on sex which ranges from the funny (an incident of jumping sperm in a classroom) to tragic (the story of the Great Pacific Octopus mother).

Whilst the writing style isn't going to win any literary awards, the subject matter more than makes up for anything lacking in the sentence structure. It is a non-fiction book after all and does well to be entertaining. I repeatedly found myself putting down my current fiction read so I could read a little bit more about squid.

On a side note, the picture captions were very basic. There was one photo near the beginning that just said "a squid". I think if you have picked up the book to read you'll know what one looks like and it should either have been expanded upon or left out. I do think the drawings are a nice addition and I just love the cover illustration. In general, I think more books need pictures!

If you enjoy watching natural history documentaries, especially those concerning marine wildlife, I would sincerely recommend this book.

I'm glad I've never really liked squid as a food as I would now feel guilty eating such interesting little, and not so little, creatures.
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on 11 March 2014
This book was so interesting! If you have any interest in squid or octopuses you will love this book! Lots of information but written in a really readable way, not like a scientific text book! I would recommend this book to EVERYONE!
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on 2 January 2015
As an animal lover and all round science geek, this was an easy, absorbing and fascinating read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book
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on 7 October 2016
Such an interesting read.
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