Wednesday 19 June 2013

Railsea by China Miéville

384 pages
Published in paperback by Pan Macmillan 25 April 2013
THIS IS THE STORY OF A bloodstained boy.
There he stands, swaying as utterly as nay windblown sapling. He is quite, quite red. If only that were paint!
Summary from The Hive
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 & the other's glory are extraordinary. But no matter how spectacular it is, travelling the endless rails of the railsea, Sham senses that there's more to life. Even if his captain can think only of her obsessive hunt for one savage mole. When they find a wrecked train, it's a welcome distraction. But the impossible salvage Sham finds there leads to trouble. Soon he's hunted on all sides: by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters & salvage-scrabblers. & it might not be just Sham's life that's about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea.
Reviewed by K. M. Lockwood
This book is Marmite.
It’s got people on trains hunting giant moles. It’s got some of the strangest prose you will ever read, and a narrator who takes you from one scene to another, withholds information and philosophises. There are nonsense words and gruesome moments and humour and a touch of romance too.
The reader is immersed in an extraordinary world – and not one bit of it is explained. You are never told – you have to work things out. This will either thrill or annoy you. 
The more ‘normal’ elements include a hunt for missing parents, plenty of action and plot twists. Whether or not you like Miéville’s highly individual style, it’s hard not to at least approve of a book where strong female characters feature so prominently. Similarly, the appealing main character is so well-drawn, flaws and all, that you have to cheer him on.
I have to say I loved it – and hated it at times, and will have to read it again. You will like this if you enjoy finding your way round an astonishing version of our world somewhere far in the future, and you relish strange musical uses of language. My advice is to roll with it – let it flow and don’t worry if some parts are too dense/weird/ confusing. It’ll maybe make sense one day and the story is too good to miss.
It is aimed at confident readers over eleven. There are gory bits and scary bits – but it does show courageous and inventive young people. It is a challenging read – but in a rewarding and light-hearted way. Highly recommended– IF you like that ‘weird fiction ‘sort of thing.

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