Mark's Reviews > Kraken

Kraken by China Miéville
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M 50x66
's review
Nov 28, 11

bookshelves: gave-up-on-it, fantasy, reviewed
Read from November 27 to 28, 2011

Good fiction is driven by compelling character development so that the reader cares deeply about who does what, and why and what the outcome will be. This is doubly important in fantasy, to ensure that the reader has a solid reference frame to fall back on amidst whatever magical other-worldness is going on. Kraken falls well short of establishing this foundation for the story over the first 18 chapters and it's a flaw that left me without the interest to see if the novel could recover.

100+ pages into the novel you have a stolen squid and a vague idea that this is important to some different groups of people and that the protagonist is a person of interest to these groups, for reasons that are wholly unclear to both he and the reader.

Without a hint of what is motivating anyone involved, the story is dull and lifeless. The fact that the Macguffin is a giant squid is ultimately irrelevant. The basic building blocks of a good story are simply missing, and no squid is great enough to repair such fundamental shortcomings.

"Stop trying to make sense of it and just listen."

Spoken by one of the squid-worshipers to our confused protagonist, this might as well be an entreaty to the reader. But the reader has to be given a reason to be interested in listening to the story in the first place, and Mieville's potentially clever premise is simply not enough.
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message 1: by Pumpkinmama (new)

Pumpkinmama Sorry this was a disappointment. The one shining star in all this is that I at least got to read one of the best lines ever in one of your reviews: "no squid is great enough to repair such fundamental shortcomings" A great trueism for the ages.


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