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Review: Kraken by China Miéville

Spoilers ahead for China Miéville's Kraken (2010)
3.5 stars (out of 5)
Pasted from my Goodreads review

Preface: I loved Mieville's Embassytown, which was written a year after Kraken (and far surpasses it, in my opinion). Kraken has a lot of interesting lore and creepy imagery, but suffers from a slow-moving plot and unlikeable characters. I was vaguely rooting for the good guys, but most of the book is spent chasing dead ends for answers. Who took the kraken and why? We don't really know until the final few chapters, and it feels anticlimactic to realize the kraken was never really the goal at all, but a series of jars containing original Darwinian specimens that a creationist lunatic wants to destroy. Also, the final boss is... ink in a jar and some papercuts? And Billy is not a kraken prophet at all but a prophet of... glass bottles? Womp.

The best parts of the book are the descriptions of memory angels, Tattoo and his entourage of knuckleheads and human radios, and Goss and Subby (especially the first time they appear, quite literally, out of thin air). I love the mind-bending physics and the idea of a London underworld. I really got a good sense of place from this book. I just never felt attached to Billy or the cops. I wasn't really rooting for anyone per se, just not-the-bad-guys. Dane and Wati were probably my favorite characters. Oh, and Paul. Absolute legend. Loved the touch at the end where he tattooed over Tattoo's tattoo mouth. (Say that five times fast.)