Sunday, August 12, 2012

MMGM: Post Apocalyptic Moby Dick? Railsea by China Meilville

About The Book: 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 and 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-coloured mole she’s been chasing since it took her arm all those years ago. When they come across a wrecked train, at first it's a welcome distraction. But what Sham finds in the derelict—a series of pictures hinting at something, somewhere, that should be impossible—leads to considerably more than he'd bargained for. Soon he's hunted on all sides, by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers. And it might not be just Sham's life that's about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea. -Goodreads

First Line: This is the story of a bloodstained boy.

One Great Passage: This particular passage is representative of the wonderful aliteration, the unique format and action packed sentences that Railesea offers:  "& if," he said,  his voice was suddenly chill & bony & metal like the scuttling of a very bad insect, "you'd like not to be cut open & dangled over the side of the train & dragged along with your legs on the ground spilling blood everything under the flatearth can smell while we go slow enough for long, long miles that they can rise eat you from the toes up from the inside out, you know what you could do for me Sham?" -Elrish, the pirate captain. (236) (Seriously, what 11-13 year-old wouldn't love that!)

What Others Are Saying: "While the beasts may be a bit too intense for those under 12, Railsea is a novel fantasy-loving teens will want to put on the bookshelf alongside the likes of Ender's Game, yet it will also easily satiate Miéville's adult fan base.
      He gives all readers a lot to dig into here, be it emotional drama, Godzilla-esque monster carnage, or the high adventure that comes only with riding the rails." -USA Today

"If Steampunk was The City of Lost Children, then SalvagePunk is supposed to be moreMad Max. It's the process of recycling, repurposing, "upcycling" old technologies. In place of Steampunk's romanticization of the past, SalvagePunk is an "act of radical forgetting," according to Miéville. It would be as though, in the movie Hugo, the eponymous character, instead of meticulously repairing the clockwork automaton, had decided to remodel it into an answering machine." -L.A. Review

What I Thought: As some of you know I am on kind of a Steampunk kick so when I saw this I couldn't pass up the chance to review it on Netgalley. The format threw me at first, which it will for any middle grade reader that isn't capably fluent. When I happened upon an version, I jumped and was so glad I did. This is a book you want to hear the alliteration, the tempo and the beat. I then added the hardback book and was able to rewind and review passages, study conventions—what can I say—I'm a writer. Trains, giant moles monsters, strange creatures, pirates and mystery, this has it all. Sham is a great character and any teen will relate, possibly even an advanced Tween, to his quest for adventure, his struggle with difficult choices and his quick wit. If you love, as I do, watching a writer build a new world. It also helps that my degree was in communication and Mieville is always twisting and stretching language, what people say and what they mean is often two very different things. 

About The Author: 
China Mieville
Who: China Miéville is one of the most important writers working in Britain today. The author of ten novels of "weird fiction"—as well as short stories, comics, non-fiction, a roleplaying game, and academic writing on law and ideology—his 2011 science fiction novel Embassytown was acclaimed by Ursula K le Guin, among others, as "a fully achieved work of art" busy "bringing the craft of science fiction out of the backwaters". -Interview on Boing Boing

How: In terms of the genesis of the book, I can't remember precisely. I think it had an epiphanic moment. But what I'm aware of is a couple of things. One is the very, very silly joke that I've always liked burrowing monsters—Tremors, Burrowers—and I've always loved Moby Dick, and at some point I was amused by the idea of the ridiculous semiotic pun of thinking of Moby Dick but with giant moles instead of whales.  -Interview on Boing Boing

His other book for teens:
What is Un Lun Dun?  It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too–including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. See more here.

Question Of The Day: Have you written anything that turns an existing story on it's head or stretches the envelope? 

Commenters are automatically entered into the August 31st giveaway.

Please stop by and check out some of the other MMGM bloggers in my sidebar!

August Giveaway Prizes: Since the drawing occurs on my birthday I am giving lots of gifts and having lots of winners...

Grand Prize: Choice of any two books I have reviewed so far this year, 3/4 pound bag of Solace Coffee,  Madison Morgan: When Dogs Blog in paperback and Project Madison swag.

First Prize: Two Debbie Macomber books, 3/4 pound bag of Solace CoffeeMadison Morgan: When Dogs Blog in paperbackProject Madison swag.

Second Prize: No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko, 3/4 pound bag of Solace CoffeeMadison Morgan: When Dogs Blog in paperbackProject Madison swag.

There will be many more winners, more books, more coffee and more Project Madison Swag so stay tuned. [If you tweet this and paste the tweet url in your comment you will get two entries!]

Later This Week: Interview with Julie Bourbeau author of The Wednesdays. 

Next week MMGM Back to Classics: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech


  1. This sounds very different and fascinating! Thanks, Pam.

  2. I have not heard of this book or author- but this story does sound unique! I am curious to read it and I may get the audio- as I enjoy a good book being read to me.

    Also- what an excellent giveaway you have going on! Wow! I haven't twisted or changed an existing story- but I do enjoy reading them. :)


  3. This book was driven by a great and very imaginative plot. The language used was absolutely beautiful, and the characters were immensely rich and engaging. Over all, this is worthy to be called a take off of the classic "Moby Dick".


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