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nataliya

nataliya

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
― Stephen King, On Writing.

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"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."— J.K. Rowling

Kraken

Kraken - Unpredictable, funny, and chock-full of weird with a side of SQUIDDITY apocalypse - and yet (oh blasphemy!) Kraken is my first 3-starred Miéville. This hurts my fangirl soul.But here's the thing - even the weakest book by His Chinaness is still better that the strongest offerings of most other writers. Therefore me giving it 3 stars in NO WAY puts it in the same category that some of the drecks that I've read. I liked this one. It's just that it in NO WAY measures up to the usual amazing and brain-popping experience I came to expect from CM.I think of this book as a grittier weirder Miéville-edition of Gaiman's Neverwhere. The strange "other" London where things are not what they seem, Goss & Subby = Croup and Vandemar, Billy is another Richard Mayhews, the ordinary wide-eyed chap dragged through the ever-escalating weirdness by experienced warriors, destined for something bigger in the end. But really, Gaiman is more Miéville-lite whereas Miéville is Gaiman full roast, black, hold creamer and sugar, add extra weird. Usually this would be a recipe for success as far as I'm concerned. Alas, Kraken misses the mark a bit...(All this sea creature talk in the book makes me crave the SQUIDDITY deliciousness, y'all!)-----------------------Now, here's what I loved - for the sake of the oreo-cookie effect here (yes, calamari squid talk DID make me hungry, so 'scuse me) - before breaking my heart with the less awesome parts:"In a city like London... Stop: that was an unhelpful way to think about it, because there was no city like London. That was the point."- Miéville is amazing at creating fully alive weird cities and making them be real protagonists of his stories (examples: New Crobuzon, Armada, Beszél/Ul Qoma, UnLondon). Here, his setting is contemporary London that apparently has a secret supernatural side to it, which is still firmly ground in reality. I mean, it's the place where the paranormal creatures form picket lines, for crying out loud. "The strike paralysed large sections of occult industry. The economy of gods and monsters was stagnating.""There were pickets of insects, pickets of birds, pickets of slightly animate dirt. There were circles of striking cats and dogs, surreptitious doll-pickets like grubby motionless picnics; and flesh-puppets, pickets of what looked like and in some cases had once been humans." Which neatly takes me to my next point:- Miéville is unabashedly joyful about airing out of his political views - on politics of labor and religion in this case. Ever since reading [b:London's Overthrow|13778819|London's Overthrow|China Miéville|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1354123677s/13778819.jpg|19412601] I have extra-appreciated the political musings of Dr. Miéville, PhD, the proud author of [b:Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law|68502|Between Equal Rights A Marxist Theory of International Law|China Miéville|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1354903611s/68502.jpg|1963235]. 'He knows religion is bollocks,' Collingswood said. 'He just wishes he didn't. That's why he understands the nutters. That's why he hunts them. He misses pure faith. He's jealous.'- There are so many side characters that are unbelievably fascinating and each one of them could easily merit an entire book to him/herself. The cast is quite an interesting ensemble, to say the least. However...---------------------...it brings me to the "bad" part of the oreo cookie metaphor (actually, kind of a reversed oreo cookie, since honestly, the middle is the best part, but bear with me here, I'm hungry, okay?)- With all the awesome side characters and fascinating side plots, this book is too overstuffed with more awesome than this story can take (maybe if he had spread the ideas over a trilogy it would have worked better). There are too many plots and ideas that he tries to tie together to make a coherent story - and it is not that successful of an attempt, honestly. The main storyline becomes not only hard to follow but is almost impossible to identify, leaving the reader to just blindly go along on this crazy ride. And combined with...- ... the uneven pacing, it can get frustrating. Seriously, this is the first time in my Miéville-reading experience (6 books, a few short stories) that I felt the pacing was poorly done. In some sections, the story drags, in others it moves along at lightning-speed, giving you a whiplash. - And, finally, despite the palpable threat, despite the fights and weirdness and humor, I found it hard to care about what is going to happen. The characters failed to make me completely invested in them (Billy? Ugh. Collingswood? Bleh. Dane Parnell? Kinda, but ergh. Wati? Yeah, but not enough.) I did not feel very invested, it did not have the now-expected thought-provoking quality, and did not leave me in the vague state of unease that I came to cherish as a part of my Miéville reading experience. In short, the book never became dull, but never became quite that interesting.--------------------And to finish off the reverse Oreo comparison - here is the final layer - the good one. All the griping aside, it was a fun read, even though not the most memorable. The sheer amount of bizarro is enough to keep you chuckling and perhaps having quite vivid dreams (I know I did while reading this!). It is fun as usual to see Miéville allow his imagination run wild, taking us on the crazy plot turns that nobody could have predicted coming. It is not deep or profound or thought-provoking, but it's a good and honest fun. "Just because someone uses something wrong doesn't mean it's useless."Final verdict - 3 stars. Read this one if you are an established Miéville fan. Probably stay clear of it if you're just trying to get into CM writing - pick up "Perdido Street Station", "Un Lun Dun", "The Scar" or "The City & The City instead and leave this for the time when you're so hooked on Miéville that you are ready to read even his grocery list (and believe me, that time WILL come!)"You may not be interested in the gods of London, but they're interested in you."----------------------And here is what Mr. Miéville himself has to say about Kraken (Courtesy of Seak (Bryce L.) - the interview is here; thanks, Catie, for pointing it out to me!):Kraken, by contrast, was a kind of loving valedictory to what I hope is an enjoyable but rather chaotic kitchen-sink excess of the Bas-Lag books. It's a book all about totality, it's full of stuff, it attempts - whether successfully or not - to make a virtue of a certain kind of, I hope not exactly ill-discipline, but sort of distraction, like the book itself gets distracted, but that those distractions, I hope, are engaging. (Something that no one I've ever read does as well as Pynchon, to whom this book is, among other things, a tentacular pulp homage.)