- Moby Dick and an awesome cover. I couldn’t resist.
Summary from GoodReads:
On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory. But no matter how spectacular it is, Sham can’t shake the sense that there is more to life than traveling the endless rails of the railsea–even if his captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole she’s been chasing since it took her arm all those years ago. When they come across a wrecked train, at first it’s a welcome distraction. But what Sham finds in the derelict—a series of pictures hinting at something, somewhere, that should be impossible—leads to considerably more than he’d bargained for. Soon he’s hunted on all sides, by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers. And it might not be just Sham’s life that’s about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea.
I’ve read a lot of books, but none of them have been nearly so enveloping as Railsea by China Miéville. What do I mean by “enveloping?”
Well, let’s take the ampersand for starters. Throughout the book (& this review, because I love it so much) China inserts the ampersand for each “and,” & it’s there for a reason – which is explained once the story is about 3/4ths of the way through. It’s alternatively very, very cool & very distracting, but it works for what it was intended to do & is a constant reminder of how different things are.
Also, there is the narrator. I’m not sure who exactly is narrating the book, but suffice it to say the narrator keeps things interesting. You know those books that jump around between three different sets of characters & always jump right when things are really heating up for the one that has you completely sucked into? The narrator acknowledges that is happening in a way – but still you have to wait & you may have to read a few short pages of the narrator musing on the state of the world in the process. It’s very cool – that’s all I have to say about that.
This story is part Moby Dick, part Treasure Island, part Robinson Crusoe. There are characters with strange names, a strange world filled with dangerous creatures (I always thought moles were freaky). There’s a strange caste structure & instead of sticking to a specific genre, China moves between Steampunk, Post-Apocalyptic, & Dystopia – mixing all three into a wonderful stew of adventure goodness.
Before you dive into this unique, incredible story though let me warn you – it’s taxing to the brain. I had to take several breaks before diving back in because my mind was having to work so hard to adjust to everything. This is classified as a Young Adult book, but frankly I haven’t worked so hard reading a “Young Adult” book since I picked up Ender’s Game.
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