The story is a wonderful adventure written for children and adults It manages a large, rotating cast of individuals questing together and includes tight, hopeless situations where the heroes scramble for allies in a place where few people creatures are what they appear to be Solutions are always fun and always satisfying, realistic , mind blowing and or witty The lead is a wonderful, likeable, kick ass teenage girl who should please anyone looking for a strong female protagonist whose confidence and determination grows immensely.
Animators would have a blast portraying this thing It would certainly not be a Pixar product though Mieville s fantasy is not inspired by Tolkien It sin Lewis Carroll s wacky vein, which would normally not be a selling point for me but I thoroughly enjoyed what he did here Neil Gaiman gets a nod and should, but I was relieved that Mieville s Un Lun Dun was very different than the setting in Gaiman s Neverwhere I am shocked shocked that anyone would claim Mieville cut it too close.
The narrative questions authority hilariously, not only in the form of powerful individuals but written prophesies too I welcome this in children s books and I don t mind saying that you should too.
I ve noticed some disappointment among adult readers over this one WTF Glad I read it first then I m very interested in readingof his work I may even start with his first, King Rat, under the assumption I ll eventually read them all The marketing department must be furious with Mieville As far as I know, his other books are aimed at adults I m not sure how much this book has penetrated the children s market but it deserves a place, not for lower elementary, but definitely advanced readers in upper elementary and beyond I m going to share it with my oldest soon And the world once my script is turned into a movie.
What is it about London that makes it the prime place to create another world, not hidden in the shadows, but accessible through secret passageways that tend to close tight behind those who stumble in Neil Gaiman s Neverwhere jumps to mind, which China Mieville I don t know how to do the accents credits as an inspiration, and now Un Lun Dun.
Although I guess the other example that I can think of, J Michael Straczynski s Midnight Nation, is set in the States Never mind And in this book, UnLondon isn t the only city hidden behind another city There s Parisn t, for example And Lost Angeles Note The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement You can read why I came to this decision here.
In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook Die M Dchen Zanna Und Deeba Gelangen Durch Magie Nach UnLondon In Eine Wunderstadt, Wo Alle Verlorenen Und Kaputten Dinge Londons Enden Hier Laufen Alte Regenschirme Wie Bedrohliche Spinnen Umher, Streifen Gef Hrliche Giraffen Durch Die Stra En Und Wuchern Dichte Dschungel Gleich Hinter Den Eingangst Ren Von Ganz Normalen H Usern UnLondon Lebt In Angst Ein Finsteres Wesen Bedroht Die Stadt Die Bewohner Verlangen Von Zeeba, Die Stadt Zu Retten, Schlie Lich Sei Sie Die Auserw Hlte Pl Tzlich Lastet Alle Verantwortung Auf Deeba, Und Der Dunkle Feind R Ckt Immer N Her One star off for making this too long Mr Mielville Towards the end I felt tired and just wanted it to finish despite the fact that I did enjoy the book The best books are the ones that finish and leave you wantingThis did not do that In many ways I was reminded of reading The Golden Compass which meandered along from one danger to another in similar fashion to the point where danger became tedious instead of suspenseful.
Anyway enough of what I did not like andabout what I did I always love China Mi ville s imagination and the fantastic things he does with his worlds In this book Un Lun Dun is a different kind of London containing places such as Webminster Abby covered in webs and the home of a kind of spider As with many young adult books and this one is for the younger end of that category the main characters are children who are smarter than the nasty grown ups who are out to get them That was all good though and Reeba was a very smart, tough young lady.
Not the author s best book but still very enjoyable and I bet he had an absolute ball writing it Warning mild spoilersWhen it comes to creating weird worlds, there is none to beat China Mieville.
One only has to look at Perdido Street Station, where weird beings from various mythologies join together in a strange world to create a socially incendiary cocktail However, that novel was rather thin on story, and none of the characters were actually likeable But in this book, which is meant for young readers, Mieville has overcome the failing on the story front it contains a story rattling along at the pace of a roller coaster through a fictional universe right out of a surrealist painting UnLondon is London s twin abcity in a parallel universe There are portals between the two, and select people can go back and forth, though it is not easy UnLondon is peopled by strange beings who resemble earthly flora and fauna, but have got some weird anatomical twists a tailor who uses his body as a pincushion, a bird man with a birdcage for a head, sentient trash and umbrellas, to name a few , who live in a reasonable parody of human existence in a big city As the story opens, UnLondon is in danger from the arch villain a chemical smog and only Suzanna or Zanna as she is called from London can defeat it, according to the prophesy written in the book which can talk and quote from itself,BTW It is all overseen by the Propheseers located on the magic bridge, the Pons Absconditus , which can also act as bridge between the two worlds.
Accordingly, Zanna and her friend Deeba cross over into UnLondon Zanna is celebrated as the Schwazzy a play on the french word choisi, chosen She is conducted safely to the Pons Absconditus, where she meets Brokenbroll, the man who is recruiting umbrellas as weapons against the smog But the man in charge is Benjamin Unstible, a scientist who has crossed over from London, who has reportedly defeated it there taking the help of the Armets apparently a group of warriors with the help of the weapon, the Klinneract.
So far so good But with Zanna s first encounter with the forces of darkness, things start to go wrong terribly She is laid low with the fog in her lungs, and forced to return to London along with Deeba for her own safety The book is aghast that it has been proved wrong, but apparently there is nothing to be done Leaving the fight in the hand of Brokenbroll and Unstible, they return.
However, Deeba is unsatisfied about what happened She does some research, and discovers something shocking They have to return to save UnLondon but Zanna has lost all her memory of the parallel world along with her accident So Deeba must now do it aloneand what follows is Alice in Wonderland on steroids The two things I really loved about the novel were 1 the totally surrealist world and 2 the subtle social commentary Mieville is a communist, and it seems he cannot a write a story without commenting on the ills of society But he does do it in a refreshingly novel way.
In the cause of weirdness, the author has pulled no punches The world of UnLondon reminded me of the absurd drawings in Codex Seraphinianus Some of it is funny and some of it is frightening I don t think any kid can read the passage about the carnivorous giraffes without a shudder But Mieville has followed the golden rule that it is OK for children to be frightened in the cause of a good story, much in the vein of the Grimm Brothers and classic mythical tales as long as justice is delivered in the end, it does not matter much The puns are wonderful The junk of London that reaches UnLondon and is used in the construction of houses is called MOIL Mildly Obsolete in London the broken umbrellas converted to weapons against the smog are called unbrellas the martial arts expert waste bins, called binjas , the parallel cities of Paris, New York and Los Angeles are called Parisn t, No York and Lost Angeles respectively I could go on and on It s sheer pleasure.
The social commentary is subtle, but it is very visible The ghosts, the inhabitants of Wraithtown, ostracised by the normal people as body snatchers the slaterunners who live above the street in their Roofdom and refuse to come down the all consuming smog which wants to burn everything and consume the resultant smoke the people who support it so that they can earn their short term benefits, even if the world goes to hell they all make a pattern A pattern of the highly stratified society of today, with its haves and have nots, where the environment is being mercilessly exploited for the pleasure of the select few becomes readily apparent.
But where Mieville really scores is when he inverts the story of the heroic quest so masterfully Nothing goes as per prophesy the dark Deeba she may be of Indian origin, from the clues Mieveille leaves around takes over from the blonde Zanna, the chosen one the tasks of the quests are hilariously screwed up and in the end, the victory comes through a pun on a supposedly typographical error in the book of prophesy To say anything further would be a spoiler I loved this tale and also, the illustrations provided by the author himself They are rather like Tenniel s pictures for Alice in Wonderland.
from English to Tagalog to Hungarian to Esperanto to Chinese and back to English again It is quite a challenge in front of me, I also played its ideas Children s Literature in the tradition of Alice in Wonderland, but not for me I do not usually a fan of fun and good times and random stupidity, I m not really a fan of word games I like the rules and logic of literature and children s literature is no exception Almost stimulate me whiny, uninteresting characters It really grated But then I began to grow novels This is not due to the energetic fun on the screen this is due to the obvious intellectual authors A moment later, his idea really started to penetrate They got under my skin, I like that Despite the antipathy witticisms, continuous commentary language, andseductive In this book the nature and power of words, how they are formed and evolve, flexibility and a variety of messages, then you can include some challenging ideas Oh, Mi ville, but convinced Opposite The thing is, Deeba said, eyeing Mr Speaker, you could only make words do what you want if it was just you deciding what they mean But it isn t It s everyone else, too Which means you might want to give them orders, but you aren t in control No one is I really like half ghost boy half There Nice description However, accidentally hitting my dear and courageous six legged baby named Bear utterling Diskin toilet drowned in the river And a permanent bus driver Rosa starve yourself trapped in another dimension of the room expected death brutal death I can not say I did not see it appreciate children s book Death was no accident and death of children s literature in places, but I think there must be some care and attention when it happens These deaths feel cheap Fortunately, despite the anger, what happened to the two, has been a very cute Curdle, development distract me, warm my heart thank you, Google Translate When I started this book, I thought to myself oh lord, I hope this isn t another Neverwhere I liked Gaiman s novel just fine, but I had in my hand ANOTHER urban fantasy, with a Dave McKean esque cover, and I didn t think that I could handle it.
Kudos to Mieville for taking my worries and drop kicking them into the ocean.
There s so much to like about this novel The protagonist isn t who it seems at first The level of imagination is astounding quirky, gentle, but with a definite Mieville flavor The Norton Juster influence is noticeable but certainly pleasant.
It s just a lot of FUN, without being ponderous or cliche I can only really compare it to Clive Barker s Abarat books, which are just as good although pointed in a slightly different, almost parallel direction.
I hope there is no sequel Let Un Lun Dun be great on its own.
Wow How do I describe this book It s on the one hand a bit of an ode to all of the quest based, parallel world containing fantasies that have come before The Wizard of Oz, Narnia, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, most of Neil Gaiman s catalogue, hell even Harry Potter On the other hand, it undermines the typical tenets of these books in a way that s a bit of a fuck you to the whole genre It also manages to transcend both of these things and become a decent quest based, parallel world containing fantasy itself It s fun, playful, and sometimes just downright silly I wish that I could morph into Will Ferrell as James Lipton right now and declare it delightful.
There are a few things that I could have done without, but for the most part I really enjoyed this book.
It all starts when Susanna Zanna and her BFF Deeba notice a few strange things around their estate A fox looks at them gravely, Zanna s face appears in a cloud, a flattering graffito proclaims Zanna For Ever , and odd people start recognizing Zanna around the town and calling her Shwazzy One night Zanna and Deeba follow a spying broken umbrella unbrella and discover a way into London s abcity Unlondon Soon Zanna is discovering that she s a hero of great prophecy, destined to save Unlondon from a powerful enemy But everything gets turned on its ear when Zanna falls to the enemy and loses her memory Now it s up to the Unheroes to save the day.
The city of Unlondon is wonderfully described in all its breathtaking, peculiar detail It s a feast for the imaginationthe kind of feast where there are about twelve different utensils that you ve never seen before, and every course is comprised of something that you didn t even know could be classified as a food There are so many parts of the city that I fell in love with the donut sun, the book of prophecies who was written by idiots , the killer giraffes, the binjas, the extreme librarians, the utterlings, CURDLE Some of the inanimate objects in this book havepersonality than human characters I ve spent time with But there were a few times that I felt like it was just a bit ham fisted Like the character that is essentially a bunch of fish trapped in a diving suit named Skool Get it Skool Or the main villain I was intrigued by his insatiable drive to consumeandinformation, but I couldn t help the feeling that I was essentially reading a book starring the villain of the silly but environmentally conscious nineties animated film, Ferngully the Last Rainforest Seriously, the villain is this guy I also really don t love the Ungun I absolutely adore everytime Deeba goes against the rules by bypassing the prophecies or outwitting some of the bad guys But the Ungun just seems like such a magical panacea of a weapon I don t like easy solutions in fantasy novels, and I wish that this was one of the tenets that he had chosen to subvert in this book.
It s really hard to know who to recommend this book for I think that a subset of the reading population will think that it s the best thing since sliced bread Another set will think that it s absolutely crazytrain I guess if you enjoy bizarre absurd fantasy and like playing with words, I would say give this a try.
Perfect Musical PairingRadiohead Subterranean Homesick AlienWoohoo, I can stick with the same artist When I recently read The City The City, it struck me as dense and hard to get into, but it really grew on me and I love the big ideas it contains This book is like a much younger,accessible, but alsoshallow version of that book if you subtract a noir mystery and add in a fantasy funhouse mirror Radiohead s Ok Computer is also muchaccessible and popular than some of their later albums This song is about feeling bored and restless with your surroundings so much so that you want anything to happen, even something drastic Also seen on The Readventurer.
Let me begin this sadly negative review by saying that I think China Mieville is one of the BEST writers working today To put it simply he is THE MAN Unfortunately, and it pains me to say, he is THE MAN in this case that wrote a really shitty book It happens to the best of artists at some point in their career Al Pacino did Author, Author, Steven Spielberg did Always and even Will Ferrell didBewitched Well, I must report that this is Mr Mieville s Ishtar, sans Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty Now I don t intend to turn this into a rant of any kind I just didn t like the book Nothing in it particularly offended me, though I will say that I was a little put off by the less then subtle sledge hammer approach Mieville took with the central environmental theme of the story BRIEF PLOT SUMMARY Two young girls, Zanna and Deeba, begin to notice strange occurrences and eventually find their way into a bizzaro version of London the title being an alternative spelling of UnLondon This version of London is populated by strange people and objects most of them animate that have been discarded from London as trash, rubbish or obsolete technology Against this backdrop, Mieville slices, dices and deconstructs the usual YA fantasy tropes of young child pulled into alternate world where they are destined by fate to dispatch a great evil and save the day To my surprise, I found nothing in the book that I really liked Even Mieville s trademark wordsmithing was absent which I found a huge disappointment Granted, as a YA book, the vocabulary employed might have required a scale down, but I didn t find any of the lush, crisp, hip prose that I have come to expect from him Add to that my irritation with the environmental message being applied hard enough to risk concussion and I was left feeling empty and a tad grumpy at the end Thus, I figured if Mr Mieville can bathe in the effusive praise that I have heaped upon him for the towering greatness of books like Perdido Street Station and The Scar, then he can certainly take a well deserved literary scolding for shitting between two covers, wiping his name on the cover and flushing it into the public eye.
By the way, I think the environmental message could have easily been delivered with a few nice ads or Bottom line I didn t like it It disappointed me It made me sad and cranky However, I am going to be reading both The City The City and Krakenand soon and CANNOT wait for Embassytown and I believe that China Mieville s place on my list of one of the BEST in the business will remain secure I will simply consider this a speed bump 1.
For the second book in a row, China Mi ville s writing has reminded me of nothing so much as one of Stefon s drug fueled gay fantasies UnLondon s hottest club is Smog This place has everything naked ghosts, balloon zombies, sentient pollution, buses with lizard feet, spider windows, ninja R2D2s You know that thing where a trash can has been trained in the martial artsThis year it was my goal to read 100 books Which I have accomplished with several weeks to spare Number one, read in January, was China Mi ville s The City the City, a new weird fantasy about two cities that are like mirror images of one another and connected in mysterious ways Number 100, which I finished just yesterday, was China Mi ville s Un Lun Dun, a new weird fantasy about two cities that are like mirror images of one another and connected in mysterious ways.
Hmmm That s weird And also totally unintentional My mind blown.
Of course, what I should do is read 20books before the end of the year quick, lend me your novellas so that China s Kraken, which was book number 60, can sit at the halfway mark, because if you think about it, The City the City Kraken Un Lun Dun amirite, 12 people reading this who have read all three of those books.
So, echoing statements in Michael s most excellent review, I kind of don t have a lot to say about Un Lun Dun that I didn t say in my review of Kraken take a look there are pictures of cats This one is just as jam packed with absurdities, and just as much fun because of it Nay,fun, as this volume is illustrated by the author, which is a big help because China s brain on a normal day is like my brain after I spend an hour painting the inside of a garbage bag while sealed inside of it see, I can t every come up with a worthy simile.
Like Kraken, Un Lun Dun is a little deficient in terms of characters and particularly story, which is a pastiche of Niel Gaiman, Alice in Wonderland and an 80s Jim Henson movie But he is aiming for the YA crowd this time, and there is a classic underdog on a quest event event event structure that made me ache to go back in time and shove the book into the hands of my 11 year old self, so I can t complain too much that I m no longer a pre teen That said, I wonder if any kids have actually read this because it doesn t have any dorky wizards or lame vampires in it Also I think reading this at 11 would have broken my brain.