Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Railsea by China Miéville

Genre: science fiction
Series and Page #: none
Pages: 424

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. 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-colored mole she’s been chasing since it took her arm all those years ago. When they comes across a wrecked train, at first it’s a welcome distraction. But what Sham finds in the derelict—a kind of treasure map indicating a mythical place untouched by iron rails—leads to considerably more than he’d bargained for. 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.

What a strange book. It had hints of Moby Dick but at the same time, China Miéville created this intricate, slightly confusing, but altogether excellent novel.

Sham is an immediately likeable character. He has all these dreams and ambitions of doing what his parents used to do. Something like treasure hunting among the dangerous flatlands surrounding the rails. Instead, he trains to become a doctor like his uncles want him to do. He's a compassionate person. It seems as if everyone likes him, from the captain to the rest of the moletrain crew. He's very ambitious, too. He comes into himself while he's in the railsea. Its fun to see him develop throughout the book.

While the characters excelled, the descriptions were kind of vague. China Miéville didn't do such a great job of explaining the setting of the novel. There was a little description of the way the world was built because there were layers of earth where humans inhabited and where creatures roamed...? I was very confused.

Its difficult to really get into this book. But once you get past the initial exposition its easy to get into the flow of the book. The action was very well written, as well as the characters met throughout Sham's adventures. The descriptions were lacking and occasionally they took away from the novel. Probably not one of those books you'd find at the main shelves of a bookstore, but if you're looking for something new, I would recommend Railsea.

The Cover: I love this cover. The tracks and the garbage and the way the word "railsea" hangs there. It's an attention getter.

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