Monday, October 4, 2010

Kraken by China Mieville

"The streets of London are stone synapses hardwired for worship. Walk the right or wrong way down Tooting Bec you're invoking something or other. You may not be interested in the gods of London, but they're interested in you..."

Billy Harrow was just giving yet another tour at London's Natural History Museum. The main show at the Museum was the giant squid, Architeuthis. Impossibly, the grand finale arrives and the giant squid has vanished. That's when things start to get weird. It turns out that the squid is God, at least God for the Krakenists. Now, because the kraken was stolen, the world is ending. Of the multitudes of religions and gods in London, they all agree that the end is nigh.

Billy has encounters with a strange police force consisting of a young surly officer with powers and a supernatural psychologist. He is supposed to be under their protection and recruited to join their group because of his squid expertise. Then he receives the package, out of which unfolds a father and son. Goss and Subby are the scariest effing characters in the world. Goss speaks these nonsense phrases and kills people, Subby is an undead child. Goss promptly eats Billy's best friend and takes him to see the Tattoo. The Tattoo is a talking tattoo on some poor guy's back. It controls a gang of people, people with really low self esteem who want to be boiled down into characteristics and get fun fist-heads. It's weird.

Long story short, Billy gets rescued from the Tattoo by Dane, former security guard at the museum, actually a Krakenist. Dane takes Billy to his church, then accompanies him on a mission to recover the squid, even though he will be excommunicated from the church. Along the way, they learn of the rivalry between the Tattoo and Grisamentum, who is dead...or is he? Well, then, there's a haunted Trekkie who owns an actual Tribble (Which sounded really cute, even though it was described as a pile of hair and flesh), a pro-Labor deity that hops into any available statue or action figure, and someone gets folded TO DEATH. Because people can be origami.

It's still not over, but I'm not saying anything else. It feels like I'm giving away too much as it is. There's a mystery behind who stole the squid and why, and there are seriously several reveals made before the actual explanation is even broached.

I have been meaning to read China Mieville for a while. Honestly, there were times when things went over my head, but I got the general gist of everything. (I'm especially proud of the time when I couldn't place a name, then I suddenly remembered- oh yeah, the dead guy in the bottle!) There were elements that reminded me of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, a lot of intricate storytelling and multiple plots separating and weaving together. Kraken had incredibly memorable scenes, scenes that totally blew my mind. Now to try Perdido Street Station.

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