Kraken by China Mieville – Audiobook Review

Kraken by China Mieville, narrated by John Lee
Published in audio by Random House Audio
Published in print by Del Ray, and imprint of Random House


As Billy prepares to take another group on a tour through The Darwin Center, where he is a curator, he expects nothing but an ordinary day at work. Billy’s day is going to be anything but ordinary, however. When his tour reaches the room where the Center keeps its giant squid, the kraken, the beast has mysteriously disappeared from the glass tank in which it is kept. All of this would be odd enough, but the disappearance is being investigated by a special arm of the police, the cult (and, essentially, magic) squad who suspect that the Krakenist religion – The Church of God Kraken – may be behind the whole thing. Before too long, Billy actually finds himself evading the police and working with a renegade member of The Church of God Kraken in a desperate attempt to locate the squid before this left causes the end of the world.

Thoughts on the story:

Just as in “The City & The City,” in “Kraken” Mieville takes me on a journey that I never expected. “Kraken” is a remarkably inventive story. I went into it completely blind, knowing nothing but that I had loved “The City & The City” so I was not expecting the whole religion/cult/apocalypse angle and I absolutely adored it. I did think that the story lost a bit of steam in the middle. It is over 16 hours in audio or 500 pages in print, so perhaps it could have used a slightly stronger editor, someone to keep the plot moving a little more in the middle. Regardless, the entire thing was so novel – even after 10+ hours – that the pacing problems did not particularly bother me.

Thoughts on the audio production:

John Lee is a fantastic narrator and did a great job with this challenging title. You can see my entire review of the audio production at AudioFile Magazine.

If you are only going to read one Mieville book, I do think I would still recommend “The City & The City” over Kraken, largely because I think it had better pacing, but this is a fabulous story that works will in audio and seems that it would be equally fabulous in print.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Print*
Amazon: Print*

This review was done with an audiobook received from AudioFile Magazine for review .
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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9 comments to Kraken by China Mieville – Audiobook Review

  • I have The City & The City on my list to read, but am thinking of listening to is on audio because of John Lee. I also have been eying Kraken but I also know that I will only read one of these books now and the other probably much later. Good to know which one I should start with so Kraken will remain on my future list of reads.

    Pacing can be quite an issue, and it does trouble me when it slows up in the middle of the book because my mind will start to wander, and I start to get anxious for the book to be over. I am glad to know that even with the pacing problems that Kraken was still able to keep your interest.

  • Isn’t the narrator for The City and The City John Lee? If I weren’t lazy, I’d go look. I’m about 2/3 of the way through it and you were right, it is awesome. I was very confused at first, and was getting irritated, but then it seem to come together. What a creative genius. I’ll have to see if I can get this one on audio as well.

  • Must. Read. More. Mieville. Every time I hear one of his plots, I’m blown away by some new unique unexpected twist. I really, really need to read more of his work.

  • Amy

    I read this one and loved it. You’re right; The City & The City is probably better pacing wise but this one is so weird and strange that the pacing doesn’t become too much of a problem. At least it didn’t for me.

  • This sounds good but I am afraid it would give me nightmares!

  • This sounds good, but I would probably do better with it in print since it could use some editing.

  • I would definitely like the book but as Kathleen says would it give on nightmares!

  • This is going to be my first Mieville, and I’m planning on reading it in print. I’ll have to check out The City & The City!

  • I’ll have to try The City & The City because Mieville is stuck in my head as the best genre writer whose books I didn’t like – Kraken = krazy! Lol – and Embassytown was better after the 1st 1/4 of the book.