I just finished reading Railsea, by China Mieville a very brilliant up and coming British author with seven books, several comic books, a game, and a myriad of academic works to his credit. What a literary genius! Mr. Mieville is a word-crafter. Some might say a wordsmith, but I have learned a thing or two by reading this book, and one of them is that I can make up whatever words I choose!
First, I have to give Mr. M. an incredible applause for writing this book. I must admit that even though I have been an English teacher for 22 years, I have not read more than a few excerpts of the great Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. I have not read Treasure Island nor Kidnapped for more years than I will admit. My next reads will be those three picks. Why, you might ask? From the other reviews I have read, as well as from China’s own mouth, Railsea is loosely connected to all three. I am in the process of rereading Treasure Island, and have to admit that I am loving it. I have an affection for Pirates (thanks to Johnny Depp and the Buccaneers – I’m from Tampa), and it is just full of pirate life. Back to Railsea.
I have been given an Honors British Lit class for the upcoming school year. I wanted a book that would just rock these kids’ boats. There was not a set list for summer reading, so I picked Railsea. I just thought maybe, just maybe, it would be a sort of catalyst to get these kids interested in what they have to read for school. Rather than the tired “classics,” such as Brave New World or 1984, I wanted something fun, something new, and something that would just slam the front door shut on boring summer readings! I believe I have been successful. Well, I hope I am, anyway. I haven’t heard from many of my students about this book. One asked if there was an alternate choice! But that just shows that no matter what you might pick, someone is going to be unhappy about the selection. So be it.
*Ok, the above was written before school started. School has started and I’m sorry to report that my students just did not dig Railsea and I really cannot understand why. This read is chock full of monsters, pirates, and just plain weird stuff. I loved it. One of my juniors is reading 50 Shades of Gray, so there you are.
Publisher: Del Rey