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Kraken | [China Mieville]

Kraken

With this outrageous new novel, China Miéville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this—or any other—year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.
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Publisher's Summary

With this outrageous new novel, China Miéville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this—or any other—year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.

In the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist, is conducting a tour whose climax is meant to be the Centre’s prize specimen of a rare Architeuthis dux—better known as the Giant Squid. But Billy’s tour takes an unexpected turn when the squid suddenly and impossibly vanishes into thin air.

As Billy soon discovers, this is the precipitating act in a struggle to the death between mysterious but powerful forces in a London whose existence he has been blissfully ignorant of until now, a city whose denizens—human and otherwise—are adept in magic and murder.

All of them—and others—are in pursuit of Billy, who inadvertently holds the key to the missing squid, an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.

©2010 China Mieville (P)2010 Random House

What the Critics Say

"Mr. Miéville's novels - seven so far - have been showered with prizes; three have won the Arthur C. Clarke award, given annually to the best science fiction novel published in Britain…. [H]e stands out from the crowd for the quality, mischievousness and erudition of his writing…. Among the many topics that bubble beneath the wild imagination at play are millennial anxiety, religious cults, the relationship between the citizen and the state and the role of fate and free will." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (643 )
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3.8 (377 )
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4.1 (376 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Robert Ypsilanti, MI, United States 01-25-11
    Robert Ypsilanti, MI, United States 01-25-11 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    "Uninspiring"

    This book covers many of the same interesting themes as Gaiman's American Gods, but less successfully. I just found the book to be surprisingly unengaging. Characters speak in riddles, and the author has a writing style where sentences stretch on so long by the time you finish, you forget what the sentence was about. Moreover, the reader has a sing-song quality to his voice, that for me, made it hard to focus on what he was saying. I found I kept having to go back and relisten to the section of the book I just finished, because none of it registered in my brain. I've never had this problem with any other author or narrator. Despite these impediments to getting into the book, I was still able within the first couple of hours to know just how it was going to turn out. As a result, this book pulls off a rare feat, being impenetrable and predictable at the same time.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Corinna M. McDonalc 06-12-15 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    2
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    Story
    "So ungodly weird."

    Bottles! Science! Squid! Dolls! Semiotics! More squid! More science! False prophets! Warrior writers! Cell phones! Raaaaaaawr!!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Praxis Axis 05-25-15
    Praxis Axis 05-25-15
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    Story
    "Good but not amazing"

    Great story that owes a lot to Adams, Pratchett, and Gaiman. The ending is a bit too tidy for my taste. Good characters -- although the female characters are relatively flat and stereotypical. The reading was good enough. Character voices were somewhat inconsistent, but not annoyingly so. Some were excellent. Worth downloading and listening to -- especially if you have run out of Discworld and Adams.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Vogar, Iceland 04-28-15
    Eric Vogar, Iceland 04-28-15 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "Easily one of my favorite fantasy novels"
    Where does Kraken rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the best audiobooks I've listened to.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite characters are Collingswood and Goss. Their personalities and manner of speaking appeal to my mind as well as my ear.


    Which character – as performed by John Lee – was your favorite?

    It's hard to choose. He brings the main characters to life so well. I guess I would have to say Goss is my favorite voice.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me laugh. But it also shocked me at times and caused wonder and excitement as well.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason 02-09-15
    Jason 02-09-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
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    7
    1
    Overall
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    "great book highly recommend to anyone"

    loved every second of this book. I've recommended to many people already. great modern fantasy world full of magic

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Coldsmith Austin, TX USA 12-28-14
    S. Coldsmith Austin, TX USA 12-28-14 Member Since 2010

    Mayflower Child

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
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    Performance
    Story
    "Exhausting inventiveness"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Only if the friend doesn't care much about characters; because the characters are so thinly conceived, the story has little to offer besides the author's admittedly hugely inventive fantasy imagination.


    Would you ever listen to anything by China Mieville again?

    Only if someone can assure me that he's grown as a writer. Readers who like urban fantasy but want something with more depth should try instead Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker.


    What aspect of John Lee’s performance would you have changed?

    For some of the detective novels I've listened to, Lee's narration is often quite appropriately plain and restrained. You'd think that a book as rich in visuals as Kraken would be better served by the more old-fashioned narrational style that Lee favors, but in fact the thin characters might have been improved by a livelier, more actorly approach. And the lack of speech tags in the writing absolutely demanded a greater range of voices than Mr. Lee deployed.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Maybe.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Vacaville, Ca 02-12-14
    Amazon Customer Vacaville, Ca 02-12-14 Member Since 2013

    I'm a recently retired police officer, judo instructor, grandfather, husband. Lifelong Sci-fi, horror, military fiction fan.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A great book"
    What made the experience of listening to Kraken the most enjoyable?

    the story was great. the Narrator did a good job voicing the characters. the way Mieville weaves everyday London with magical London is totally believable.


    What other book might you compare Kraken to and why?

    If I compared it to another Mieville book it would be Perdido Street Station. Not because the stories are similar but because Mieville does such a great job of creating a new worlds.
    It also reminded me of Stephen Kings books because there is the everyday world and another world just underneath waiting to be discovered or intrude on someone's life.


    Have you listened to any of John Lee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not listened to John Lee before....I think...


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When a character realizes that there is a whole part of London she knows nothing about and must decide if she is going to go further into that world. It is a tough decision and it will change her life and she knows it.


    Any additional comments?

    It was really fun to be back in Mieville's worlds again. This was a fun rollercoaster ride.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steph United States 08-20-13
    Steph United States 08-20-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Alternate London + Pop Culture Sci Fi = Fantastic"

    This book is a wonderful jumble of pop culture science fiction and fantasy blended with an alternate modern day London. China Mieville is known for descriptive world building that makes you feel present in the story. He lives up to his reputation in Kraken. It is a very detailed book, and this is book is only for multi tasking if you are doing mindless tasks like laundry. If you do not focus on it you will miss some intelligent pieces of humor. This book definitely caters to those that love the sci fi/fantasy genres but you can still enjoy this book if you are only a casual sci fi/fantasy reader. I loved the fact China Mieville was willing to poke gentle fun at himself and his audience.

    Kraken involves an alternate London that has regular London living obliviously living amongst them with no idea that they have Gods, Londanmancers, cults, and familiars (currently on a union strike) living amongst them. Billy gets pulled into this world when he's working at the Darwin Museum and a giant squid disappears. He's pulled into this world by those that think he is the Kraken Prophet and is dodging muliple factions of cults, henchmen, assassins, a paranormal division of the police, and Chaos Nazis. My summary does not do it justice. You have to read it.

    John Lee narrated it and I think for the most part he did a fabulous job, the only place I feel he may have fell short was the character of Collingsworth, who is a paranormal, Amy Winehouse type, police woman. He doesn't do terrible with it but I could see if I was reading it, my internal interpretation may have been a bit different. For the wealth of particular characters I don't know anyone who could have done better.

    I loved it and it will definitely go into the listen again pile because I am sure that on a second try I would pick up on even more of the pop culture references. I did notice some characterized this book as scary or horror and I tend to stay away from that genre because I can scare easy. I did not find it scary at all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah BLOOMINGTON, IN, United States 05-09-13
    Sarah BLOOMINGTON, IN, United States 05-09-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
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    74
    8
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    4
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    "Couldn't stop lisitening"

    Once this book got started I couldn't stop listening. I found myself offering to do yard work and things around the house that would mean I could listen to a little more. The plot is excellent. The characters are both complex and incredibly creepy. Mieville creates this world that is just a tiny bit strange and those little things make all the difference. It's believable enough that it's even scarier. Fascinating, fast paced, and keeps you guessing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Old Man Parker Kailua-Kona, HI, United States 12-19-12
    Old Man Parker Kailua-Kona, HI, United States 12-19-12 Member Since 2009

    Me am Pop-Surrealist Tiki-Artist living and making Art on the active volcanic "Big Island" of Hawaii. Aloha.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    89
    ratings
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    75
    67
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    14
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    "Creepy creeps up from the deep..."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Kraken to be better than the print version?

    yes


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    hero - quite the adventure, you learn so much in such an strange world from his step by step path into this magical and hyper-verison of Harry Potter.


    Have you listened to any of John Lee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    fantastic!~


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes... but there is soooo much I could not. I enjoyed days of this amazing tale...


    Any additional comments?

    Harry Potter for adults. Smart adult, who like a good mystery and are not too squeamish about creepy bad guys killing people is really creepy ways....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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