Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review - King Rat, China Mieville

China Mieville is an author I've been willing myself to pick up and try. I was forever approached by people and lectured about how gritty and graphic, weird and wonderful Mieville's stories are. Having now completed King Rat, I can tell you that these descriptions are indeed true... with exceptions.

King Rat is probably the weirdest story I have read. It spins a tale about a man who discovers that he is half-human, half-rat. This entitles him to all the powers of a rat (whatever they are). In essence, the story follows the urbanised, shunned superhero: Ratman. The book is around 400 pages and could probably be knocked over in about a week of on-again-off-again reading. The language is descriptive, if not a tad strange, describing things in a way that I have never even considered, let alone read in a novel. However, there were moments in the story when I did question Mievillie's word usage. More often than not, it felt like Mieville was going to a Thesaurus and choosing words just because they looked sophisticated. Perhaps a read of Orwell's Politics and the English Language could have benefited Mieville here?

My biggest disappointment about this novel is how easily I guessed the plot and the ending (to an extent). Once I had guessed the major plot points, the reading of the novel was a little less enjoyable. There were some very interesting characters in this book and Mieville took them in directions I found fascinating. It was a certainly a change of pace from the traditional, classical fantasy that usually finds its way into my hands. But in saying this, they were characters I couldn't really associate with.

I still don't know what to think about this novel. I think I enjoyed it, but I feel like I didn't. I think it would definitely appeal to someone who is more into the gritty, punk-like way of life. For me, it's just not my thing. But would I read more China Mieville?


3 OUT OF 5

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