Sunday, May 29, 2011

Review: Kraken

Author: Wendy Williams
Title: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid
Description (source):  Kraken is the traditional name for gigantic sea monsters, and this book introduces one of the most charismatic, enigmatic, and curious inhabitants of the sea: the squid. The pages take the reader on a wild narrative ride through the world of squid science and adventure, along the way addressing some riddles about what intelligence is, and what monsters lie in the deep. In addition to squid, both giant and otherwise, Kraken examines other equally enthralling cephalopods, including the octopus and the cuttlefish, and explores their otherworldly abilities, such as camouflage and bioluminescence. Accessible and entertaining, Kraken is also the first substantial volume on the subject in more than a decade and a must for fans of popular science. (Amazon)
ARC source: netgalley
Writing style: Williams has an engaging and easily readable style that will make this book of science accessible and interesting to the lay reader. She is happy to let the scientists she interviewed speak for themselves and to present herself as a learner along with the reader.
Audience: the book will appeal to readers who are intrigued by the complexities of nature, biology, and the undersea world.
Major ideas: squid and their cousins the cuttlefish and the octopus are both unutterably different from humans (ever noticed that Cthulhu resembles a squid? Davy Jones?) and at the same time, similar enough to us that scientists have made breakthroughs in human physiology by studying cephalopods. Williams writes with considerable empathy for both the scientists and the animals.
Wrap-up: I would say that I’m definitely in the audience for a book like this, although I don’t read this type of non-fiction as often as I would like to. I was really interested in the book all the way through; I loved the anecdotes about squid and octopuses, and wanted to know more. I did think the chapter on the squid’s nervous system dragged a little, which is why the book gets 4/5*.


  1. This sounds like a really interesting read, although squids give me nightmare. lol.

  2. I've seen a cuttlefish while I was snorkeling, and even though they're creepy in pictures, they're really beautiful & graceful in the water. Not to mean I'd like to be hugged by a colossal squid (there really is such a thing, bigger than the giant squid...)