This is the second novel I have read by John Wyndham, the first being The Midwich Cuckoo’s – which got a full 5 star loving from me. Sadly I have to say, in having such high expectations for this one, I was left a little disappointed by The Kraken Wakes.
The Kraken Wakes is an apocalyptic science fiction novel, spanning across several years. During such time, the world is breached by a whole new life form, that nobody can really explain or understand, coming from deep below the sea. The novels lead characters are Mike Watson and his wife Phyllis who work for the EBC (English Broadcasting Company), and due to the nature of their jobs become quite heavily involved in the investigation surrounding these strange and dangerous creatures. I liked Phyllis a whole lot, she was a very smart, capable and likeable woman, and her and Mike as characters are probably one of the only reasons this got a 3 star rating rather than a 2 star one. Professor Alistair Bocker is another of the main characters. He has a lot to say about this phenomena, but nobody really wants to listen to him. Mainly because he’s actually talking the most sense, and no-one in the know really wants the public to be worrying as much as they maybe should be. As such, Bocker is often portrayed as a bit of a mad scientist.
My main problem with this novel is that there was too much technical, scientific speak that was a tad too boring for me to care to learn about. I spent a lot of the novel skimming the paragraphs, having to fill in the gaps and try and guess a lot of what was actually going on. I’d like to consider myself at least somewhat intelligent, but this was a tad too highbrow for me and a fair bit of it went over my head. I also thought the writing style took away from what were supposed to be ‘action’ scenes. Instead, it became just far to clinical for me to really care about what was going on. This was slightly weird for me, as the detachment in the writing style of The Midwich Cuckoo’s was something I liked the most about it. I think my main issue is that I’m not really a huge fan of aliens in fiction. Especially if they’re just huge slimy jellyfish that are causing havoc when they venture onto land.
I still enjoyed this read, and it especially picked up for me towards the end of the novel. Reading about the escalating destruction and how people were responding to it, especially Mike and Phyllis, were the parts of the writing I enjoyed most. Their relationship and how they cope as a couple was very well written in my opinion. I actually really enjoyed the ending itself, left open in how society was expected to piece itself back together again (apparently though, the American version has a slightly different ending which is far more bleak.) Essentially, I didn’t care much at all during the parts where the sea creatures were directly causing chaos, but I liked seeing how the various characters dealt with the aftermath. I’ll still read more from John Wyndham, I just think the actual subject matter and plot in general – intelligent sea life with a lot of time spent on boats, wasn’t really my type of sci-fi.
Thanks for reading!