Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Genre Character of the Week: Billy Harrow

Earlier this week I read the China Miéville novel Kraken. Last year I really enjoyed his The City and The City, and I read his first novel King Rat maybe five or six years ago. Anyway – the important thing is this is his third book I’ve read, and I came to the book looking forward to what he had to offer. In addition to a great read, the book introduced me to this week’s genre character, Billy Harrow.

Billy works as a curator in the Darwin Centre at the British Museum of Natural History, mostly involved in the preservation of undersea specimans (the centerpiece of the collection is a giant squid that Billy helped to preserve), and although his life seems pretty quiet at the beginning of the novel, he actually seems quite okay with that, not being the type who longs for something greater, he just seems like a quiet, serious young man who happens to be quite good at his job.

As the main character in a fantasy novel, however, Billy is not destined to be left alone by the universe and he quickly gets swept up in something that felt like a slightly more realistic Neverwhere mixed with more than a dash of The Matrix (only the first one however – my hatred of the later two films could fill a post on its own).

As discovering the strange new world Billy finds his own world has become is a big part of what I loved about the novel, I don’t want to go further into the plot, but let me state simply, the story was fun, intriguing and introduced me to some things both wondrous and terrifying (and often both).

Well worth the read.

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