King Rat by China Mieville
I actually became interested in this author because I thought his novel Kraken sounded interesting. Or maybe I just liked the title. Either way, since it was out in hardcover at the time, I didn't get it because I didn't want to spend that much money on a new author. However, I eventually found this novel by Mieville and decided it sounded intriguing and like a good place to start. I admit my interest in this novel may have been for the wrong reasons: the thing that most caught my attention on the backcover was the idea of another London, a secret London hidden behind the ordinary world. I like London, I loved Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere which also had a secret London (and is totally the reason I have a shot glass that says "Mind the Gap"), and it probably really isn't a good idea to pick up one author's novel because of another author's work.
After Saul spends the weekend out, he returns home and goes straight to bed, only to be awakened by the police a bit later and questioned about his father's death or murder. While in lock up, King Rat visits Saul and helps him escape and it is at this point that Saul learns there is more to his heritage than he ever knew: he is part rat. While King Rat is less than open with information, his father's death had something to do with Saul and who he is, and the novel soon introduces the rats' old enemy: the Pied Piper. Saul may be the only one able to defeat him due to his unique heritage, but the Piper soon has Saul's friends under his spell.
I really liked the ideas in this novel. I thought the modernization of the Pied Piper was a great idea, and the story was a good one. Unfortunately, it all felt very impersonal. I didn't really care about Saul, I especially didn't care about his friends, and it was just hard for me to feel any real danger throughout the novel. If it had been written differently, this would have been a great novel, but unfortunately, I just found myself wanting it to be over already. With the characters that Mieville created, this may have been better as a short story. I may still try one of the author's other novels because he is obviously a creative and intelligent thinker, but this isn't the book to start with, especially if the reader is looking for something similar to Gaiman's style (and I wasn't intentionally looking for that except for the previously mentioned Neverwhere comparison).