Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Zombie, Ohio and Mieville's Kraken

I took Scott Kenemore's book (yes, book, not eBook) Zombie, Ohio, along on the Bike the Border ride Ming and I went on last weekend around Minot, ND.  Ming grabbed it to read as I was also reading China Mieville's Kraken and he hadn't brought anything.  Which turned out to be a wise decision as nowhere within 30 miles of Minot, ND, was there a book to be purchased.  Most of the towns we were in a.) didn't have a bookstore, b.) didn't have a gas station that had books, unless they were Christian, and c.) didn't have a gas station that had a magazine.  Seriously, several Cenex's and not a magazine between them.  Everyone in North Dakota obviously uses an eReader and purchases their books in digital format or has them delivered directly to the front door via  I strongly recommend Zombie, Ohio.  A very solid book in the Zombie genre.  At times it's like The Road.  At other times it's like The Postman.  And in places it's sort of a mystery novel and love story.  Without ruining it, the plot revolves around a zombie who finds that he's not your average dumb, slow zombie, but a one in a million/billion smart zombie who can talk, reason, plan, and emote.  You can do the math from there.  What does he do about his penchant for eating brains?  Is he a good zombie, a bad zombie, or both?  Definitely a clever twist.

Which is more than I could say about Kraken.  I really liked Perdido Street Station, The Scar, and even Iron Council, which was a bit more ponderous than the other two.  King Rat, which was sort of same genre of urban magic, although sans giant squid, was thoroughly enjoyable, particularly if you'd read any Gaiman or Emma Bull (you can read my lengthy post about King Rat and War for the Oaks here).  Kraken was not. It sort of hopped all over the place.  And at times, Mieville came back to the thread of the story with references to things that had happened that he hadn't covered in text.  Which was damn strange given Kraken was over 500 pages.  He could have written the same story, with just as much depth, in 200-300 pages.  The last 40 or so had the most interesting aspects of the story and I shouldn't have had to breathe deep and utter, "Finally."  I'll channel one of the folks on Amazon who sums it up well, although I'd push the % down to about 30%, "The characters are flat. 75% of the way through the novel I realized I really did not care what happened to these characters and I only finished to see how the mystery was resolved."

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