Railsea by China Miéville

Posted June 16, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Young Adult / 0 Comments

Railsea by China MiévilleTitle: Railsea (Goodreads)
Author: China Miéville
Published: Random House, 2012
Pages: 448
Genres: Young Adult
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I’ve only really enjoyed one China Miéville novel (The City & The City) but I am a fan of what he does for literature and speculative fiction. His latest novel Railsea is his second attempt at a YA novel and while I’ve not read his other YA novel Un Lun Dun I must say I wasn’t really impressed with this one. I really loved the complexity of The City & the City so I was looking forward to see Miéville’s take on Moby Dick. Granted I should have read Moby Dick before this book but I found this book was too simplified and weird; writing without some intelligent plotting just ends up making the book weird.

Set in a dying dystrophic world that is now desert, Railsea is an adventure novel that tells the tale of three young orphans joining the train to hunt for Mocker-Jack; the giant Mole. The book mixes adventure elements that remind me of Treasure Island with Miéville’s own genre; which he calls ‘weird’ and is a mix of fantasy and steampunk. The main protagonist, Sham, was pretty average in this book but the train captain Abacat Naphi peaked my interest. I think she was the Ishmael in this book; even considering Mocker-Jack as her nemesis.

I thought this book might be more of a children’s book rather than a YA novel; io9 said it best when they said this book was for “kids who cut their teeth on Thomas the Tank Engine, then Lemony Snicket”. It just felt odd and too simplified but a twelve or thirteen year old would probably enjoy it as a gateway into the YA fantasy/steampunk genre. The main issue I had with this book was the overuse of the ampersand. There is way too many in the book; even a large amount of sentences starting with ‘&’. It just never looked or felt write when reading it and I found I got really annoyed with it.

This book is for young teenagers and China Miéville fans, anyone else interested in trying this author might want to look elsewhere. I’m a little disappointed with this book but would be interested to see how my other friends find it, if they read it. There are some interesting elements in this book but for me I felt more frustrated by it. I hope others love and enjoy this book more than I did. Miéville has a lot to offer the literary world but I personally think skip this one and go read The City & The City.

0 responses to “Railsea by China Miéville

  1. Ryan

    I haven’t read anything by him, though I’ve heard the one about the sea monster is good. I don’t get along with most YA so not sure this would be something I would have looked at anyway.

  2. Like Ryan said earlier, I haven’t read anything but him but Ana (Nymeth) has continuously enjoyed his books. I believe I **own** the sea monster one – cannot think of it’s name for the life of me. And this one, after reading various reviews, has piqued my interest as well. Although I STILL cannot stop associating it with Atlas Shrugged. *le sigh*

    • I think it’s called Kraken, I’ve not read many of his books, but may this book would be a good starting point. I just missed the complexity and this felt too dumbed done for me after explecting something weird and wonderful. I’ve never heard anyone associate with Atlas Shrugged, you’re the first 😛

  3. Stephanie at RIASS

    I’ve read pretty much all of Mieville, but I’m always a bit underwhelmed. There’s so much potential, but it all just goes to hell in a sea of self-awareness and smug meta-obsession. Un Lun Dun is not a bad read, so I’m saddened to hear that his second YA is a bit of a failure.

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