A blog for young readers (and YA lovers) from the Providence Athenaeum.
The Providence Athenaeum is a unique library and cultural center in the heart of Providence, Rhode Island. Growing out of the Providence Library Company (fourth library in the United States), the Athenaeum as we know it was formed in 1836. Our handsome building on the corner of Benefit and College was completed in 1838.
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This blog is updated by one of our circulation assistants (and YA enthusiast), RJ. Follow us to find out what's new in our Young Adult corner, or just for a daily dose of literary shenanigans.
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New to the Athenaeum’s YA corner is Railsea, the latest work for young adults from “weird fiction” writer China Mieville. From NPR:
In his new novel, China Mieville brings Moby-Dick to dry land. The world of Railsea consists of continents and islands linked by train tracks (these are the railsea), and populated by frightening creatures (enormous mole rats, “greatstoats,” meat-eating earwigs). Some train crews pursue trade; others are “salvors,” living off what they can find, repair and resell from wrecks. The nomadic, low-tech Bajjer tribes spend their whole lives in trains propelled by sails. The most romantic of trainmen are “molers,” who ply the railsea in search of great burrowing prey. Each moletrain’s captain has her own “philosophy,” the majestic, nearly unattainable quarry of a lifelong quest
Captain Naphi of the moletrain Medes, for example, pursues Mocker-Jack, an “old-tooth-colored … great southern moldywarpe” more often rumored than seen: “There’s nowhere I’d go and nothing I’d not cross to reach it,” she says. Our hero and guide to the Medes is young Sham Yes ap Soorap, reluctant apprentice to the train’s doctor. When the Medes investigates a wreck, Sham finds a film clip that serves as a treasure map, and perhaps a metaphysical key to the origin of this world. Mieville’s jocular narrator follows Sham and Captain Naphi, separately and together, as Sham gets captured by a murderous pirate train, escapes to a desert island, and becomes — along with his loyal pet bat — the reluctant navigator on a train trip to “the end of the line,” “the world beyond the railsea,” “Heaven,” whatever it turns out to be.
Railsea is, frankly, a book full of Moby-Dick jokes. But Railsea does not ever feel like satire, nor like a simple homage from Mieville to Melville: Instead, it feels like a great adventure, meant for girls and boys, as well as for the grown-up readers of science fiction and fantasy.