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Review: The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham

The Kraken WakesThe Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is probably my favourite of Mr Wyndham’s novels despite its shortcomings.

The good, first. It’s a great idea: aliens or creatures from beneath the sea marauding the coastlines of the world for some reasons that are never really made clear, then terraforming the world so that it’s more to their liking or some reason that isn’t really made clear, possibly to expand the Deeps that they live in. We aren’t given a clear picture and that, I humbly submit, is part of what makes this book so good: we are being invaded/ terrorised/ farmed by alien intelligences that we don’t even have an idea of the appearance of and all we can do is fight back as best as possible with the comparatively primitive resources to hand.

The story is told through the eyes of Mike Watson. He and his wife Phyllis (one of the great spousal acts in all of fiction) are journalists and find themselves in the middle of the greatest story in history. But they are also terrific characters and spend a lot of time doing research or recovering from the various traumas they suffer and need to spend time away from the action before becoming part of it again. And sometimes the story isn’t about them at all. It’s a refreshing twist from the action heroes of some stories who are present at every single detail and event of their struggle.

But this is also a weakness of the story: like it’s predecessor, The Day Of The Triffids this story is a recount of events that the narrator is assuming we have some experience of. It also features a narrative leap of several years for the last part of the story where the protagonists find themselves cut off from civilisation and are sought out for their expertise. Clearly, this was a formula that Wyndham was hoping to work again.

But this is a better novel than Triffids, for the fact that Phyllis plays as much a part of the story as Mike does, which is far more than Josella does in the earlier story, which gives the reader more of an insight into what happens, making the stakes a little higher. It’s also more accomplished and tighter and paints a less bucolic picture of the end of the world.

It’s also funny and tragic and exciting. I love it.

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~ by stuffianlikes on October 24, 2016 .