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jcunningham

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Ermahgerd. Berks.

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Caliban's War
James S.A. Corey
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The Shining Girls

Kraken

Kraken - Oh hey. An lolcat.That's new. But wait, because even though they are 1,000,000 years old in internet time, lolcats are only kittens in "offline" time, by which I mean the time by which your parents live their lives (go on, check your email right now: your dad just forwarded you a bunch of them. Hahaha Invisible Bike. I forgot about that one). Moreover, judged by the molasses pace of the publishing industry, they're younger still. So I give props to China Miéville (you're only getting that acute accent once in this review, so enjoy it) for offering up perhaps the first blatant lolcat reference in what could be termed a major novel (certainly the only one to receive a starred review in Booklist). (This book does not count.)But that's just one fun thing in this very fun book, one fun thing out of many. About 200 pages in, I started ripping off a tiny scrap of my bookmark every time I came across an idea so cool it would probably be a major plot point in a book less crazily mescaline-fueled. Very soon I ran out of bookmark. To be fair, I was using an oversized Post-It. Still. I don't recall making scraps of anything whilst reading Boneshaker, another ostensibly punk-leaning sci-fi romp that boringly stretches out a handful of Mieville's cast-offs into a sad excuse for an adventure.I don't want to spoil everything. A few things were spoiled for me. Like I knew there was a real, working phaser in there. But no one told me about the real, working Tribble. One lovable character speaks through inhabiting statues, and his idea of what constitutes a statue is very broad indeed (imagine: portentous dialogue between a squid cultist and a pencil topper shaped like a unicorn). Three bad guys that are worthy enough to have their own books but don't even rate as this one's mastermind (granted, the man behind the curtain is usually just a man). Also there are these guys who read the future in London's entrails. Like, literal entrails: they cut through and pry apart pavement and the city has literal blood and organs and stuff. I spoiled that one because it was my first bookmark, but for the rest I will give page numbers: 200. 208. 234. 288. 303. 308. 322. 329. 362. 374. 385. 420 (NO WAY!). 463. I hope I got them all. Some of the pieces of paper were very small. That's probably going to be pretty annoying for the next library patron. That's not to say it's a 5 star book, because it isn't. In fact, I am giving it 3.5, which is less than I gave The City & the City even though I had more fun reading Kraken. Because for all the ideas crammed in here (ink! squirting from the pages! um, literally at several points!), the story... is not so hot. I mean, it sounds cool, but a stolen squid god macguffin is still a macguffin, and a bland hero is still a bland hero. And the central character here is bland. He's your patented outsider, introduced into a crazy world (UnLunDun! Squid cults Gunfarmers! Paranormal cops! Wizards' familiars striking for better working conditions!) just so he can say "What the fuck?" and other characters can explain things to him. Though China is British, our hero does not, sadly, say "Wot's all this then?" though he would certainly be justified in doing so.I was never bored or anything, don't get me wrong. Also I don't know if it would be possible to get bored reading this, unless you are bored by awesome. But sometimes it is almost boring, in that you don't really feel for any of the characters (even though I really like and would read a sequel starring several of them), and the story tends to wander off into these nifty-idea side-plots that don't strictly go anywhere. And something about reading Mieville, both of the ones I have picked up, anyway, makes me feel like my eyes are dragging through molasses or maybe I'm actually stoned (oh shit, did I really read this book?), because it takes me FOREVER and I have to read every. single. word carefully or I'll lose track of everything.And you don't want to miss a thing, including the many squid puns. Like squidnapping (obviously) and squid pro quo (he makes you wait for that one). Missed opportunities: a cult of Siddharthists, come on. And also the lead character's name is Billy. Billy... the Squid?Oh fine. Go write your own puns.Like this one:...and it was.