Author: China Miéville
Railsea is gorgeous, accessible, enchanting, and enthralling. It takes Moby Dick, throws in some Treasure Island and trains, all the while providing an incredibly novel world with extensive worldbuilding. It's been some time since I've read a book I enjoyed this much.
While Railsea is YA, it's still China Miéville. He does hold his punches a bit; most readers won't need a dictionary to make it through. But you still get vivid, rich, entertaining prose. You get characters that have unique and strong voices. You get a world that feels so close to a possibility.
Oh, also, it's a coming-of-age story where romance isn't the super big important thing. Thank you. Honestly, the plot is so bildungsroman (boy goes on journey with pitfalls to learn something about himself and the world) it's not worth remarking on much. But the world. The world.
It's kind of a postapocalyptic world where capitalism and "progress" got in the way of sense. Pollution and rails got out of hand, to the point that most of the land is the unliveable "railsea." Which trains go on, obviously. Earth is incredibly, incredibly dangerous. And there are giant burrowing creatures that basically fling out of the railsea as far as I can tell. You get to see sketches of them in the book, which I liked.
Pointing to the richness of the world is hard, simply because it is that rich. I can throw you a bunch of small details (the one that will stand out to you the most is the use of & instead of and) but they can't really convey the depth. I love the way you have to buy information on where to find the people who sell information. I how when a pirate train gets pulled over by the navy, there are details on how these things work out.
I also really liked the ending, even with its political overtones. No, perhaps because of its political overtones. I actually really like Miéville's politics. I keep meaning to read his non-fiction book.