Michael's Reviews > Railsea

Railsea by China Miéville
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's review
Dec 14, 2015

did not like it
bookshelves: 2012, science-fiction, ya, steampunk, dystopia
Read from May 24 to June 06, 2012

I’ve only really enjoyed on China Miéville novel (The City and the City) but I am a fan of what he does for literature and speculative fiction. His latest novel Railsea is his second attempt at a YA novel and while I’ve not read his other YA novel Un Lun Dun I must say I wasn’t really impressed with this one. I really loved the complexity of The City and the City so I was looking forward to see Miéville’s take on Moby-Dick. Granted I should have read Moby Dick before this book but I found this book was too simplified and weird writing without some intelligent plotting just ends up making the book weird.

Set in a dying dystrophic world that is now desert; Railsea is an adventure novel that tells the tale of three young orphans joining the train to hunt for Mocker-Jack; the giant Mole. The book mixes adventure elements that remind me of Treasure Island with Miéville’s own genre; which he calls ‘weird’ and is a mix of fantasy and steampunk. The main protagonist; Sham was pretty average in this book but the train captain Abacat Naphi peaked my interest, I think she was the Ishmael in this book; even considering Mocker-Jack as her nemesis.

I thought this book might be more of a children’s book rather than a YA novel; iO9 said it best when they said this book was for “kids who cut their teeth on Thomas the Tank Engine, then Lemony Snicket”. It just felt odd and too simplified but a twelve or thirteen year old would probably enjoy it as a gateway into the YA fantasy/steampunk genre. The main issue I had was this book was the over use of the ampersand there is way too many in the book; even a large amount of sentences starting with ‘&’. It just never looked or felt write when reading it and I found I got really annoyed with it.

This book is for young teenagers and China Miéville fans, anyone else interested in trying this author might want to look elsewhere. I’m a little disappointed with this book but would be interested to see how my other friends find it; if they read it. There are some interesting elements in this book but for me I felt more frustrated by it. I hope others love and enjoy this book more than I did, Miéville has a lot to offer the literary world but I personally think; skip this one and go read The City and the City.
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Reading Progress

05/26 page 30
05/26 page 30
8.0% "I probably should of read Moby Dick first"
07/14 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Shall get to work on it ASAP

message 2: by Paul (last edited Aug 21, 2012 09:03PM) (new)

Paul China apparently became too enamored of his world-building to bother writing a compelling narrative.

And yeah, the ampersands are ridiculous. The thematic tie-in for their usage is a lame excuse to play (somewhat tamely) with syntax and to look interesting on the page. It seems writerly on the surface but nothing really comes of it, much like the novel in general.

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