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.
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