I like Mr. Mieville’s fiction. I did not like this book. How do you review Mieville fiction? The more imaginative the better, right? But there are risks if the characters, their world, and their quests are too attenuated, too disconnected from the world I awake to. That was Ray Bradbury’s challenge, ney? So, what’s wrong with this book. Too many made-up words? Too much religion? Characters who cared more about each other than the reader cared about all of them combined? Eschatology? Squids?
Perhaps it’s worth a second read, but I fell asleep twice reading this book. A bit too turgid and too estranged for my tastes. I was surprised to see the average review over 3 (out of 5). I finished the book, which violates my rule–toss if I get 100 pages less my age into it and there’s no there there. But respect, Mieville. Even if you you have to release the Kraken every once in a while.
At this point, punish my kids with Julianne Moore in Blindness, Mark Wahlberg in the Happening, and Billy in Kraken. Call me Ishmael.
I suppose when you’ve written 120 books it’s not surprising that a few sentences in each of your books might be as well-crafted as flushing a nesting ptarmigan from tall grass in the muddy banks of a frozen river. It is very impressive that this 400 page book is one of three or four similar books Louis L’Amour may have turned out in 1987. What is less impressive is that the book is full of uncomfortable stereotypes, two-dimensional characters, a formulaic storyline, tincan repetition, and a plot held together at times by reindeer sinew. It’s hard not to root for the good guys. But good God.
I’m a bit torn on this book. Part of Galbraith-Rowling’s gift is creating likable enduring characters. Part of the story and most of the writing I really liked. I didn’t like the ending and, gosh darn it, when you invest that much time in a read you want the ending you want.