Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review - Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid by H. P. Newquist - 5/5 stars

I got an advanced reading copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program.  It was a very interesting, if quick read.  The version I had did not have the full color pictures in it, but I found the black and white versions to be very interesting nonetheless.

This book goes from describing the early myths and legends of the Kraken and takes you on a journey as humanity struggles to find out the reality behind this mythological creature.  Early findings and expeditions to find the creature are detailed, as well as references in classic literature.  The books gets more scientific as we get into modern times and then expeditions detailing the finding of giant and colossal squids are described.  The author gives references for the pictures in the back as well as provides sources for additional information both on the Kraken and the giant squid.

This book is a bit too wordy for young children but older children and adults should find it interesting.  The origins of different myths behind the Kraken were fascinating and the modern day science was just as interesting in a different way.  The anatomy of the giant squid is in itself intriguing and awe-inspiring. 

I knew some about the Kraken/giant squid just because of references in literature (I read a ton of fantasy books).  I found some of the information about the giant squid to be especially fascinating because I just finished reading China Mieville's book Kraken.

The pictures are fantastic.  There are pictures of everything from old world maps to diagrams detailing anatomy.  The book is also well-written, it is engaging and easy to read and written at a writing level that can be enjoyed by both children and adults.  The author doesn't take himself too seriously and the book is entertaining as well as informing as a result. 

The only small quibble that I have is that there are no footnotes; it would have been nice to have the information referenced back to its source so that the reader can obtain additional information that way if they want too.  I think that the footnotes were probably omitted to make it a more kid friendly book; but without them I just have to take the author at his word and can't expand on my knowledge directly.

I really enjoyed this book and it is one that I will keep on my bookshelf for years to come.  If you are curious about the sea, legendary creatures, or just curious about how humans justify the unknown and about how myths are created; this is the book for you.  Loved it and I really hope that future books will be released with the Here There Be Monsters series.
Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid 

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