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Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

Un Lun Dun (2007)

by China Miéville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,6601562,244 (3.86)1 / 387
  1. 160
    Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (Phantasma, ahstrick, jolerie)
  2. 80
    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (Phantasma, elbakerone, heidialice)
  3. 61
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (heidialice)
    heidialice: Both are fantastical YA at its best. Gaiman is an acknowledged inspiration for Mieville, and it shows, though he has his own distinctive style and voice.
  4. 51
    The City & The City by China Miéville (heidialice)
    heidialice: May be an obvious recommendation, but these books cover a similar (very original) premise in very different ways. Un Lun Dun is for young teens, smaller in scope and message-heavy; The City & The City for adults, deals with complex themes and offers no easy answers. Both display Mieville's consummate skills and elegant humor.… (more)
  5. 40
    The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers (Scorbet)
  6. 30
    The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (foggidawn, lottpoet)
  7. 31
    The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde (melonbrawl)
    melonbrawl: Similar wordplay and meta-textual playfulness
  8. 00
    The Child Thief by Brom (GirlMisanthrope)
    GirlMisanthrope: A story inspired by/reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. Has similar break-neck adventure and constant twists. And great artwork by the author.
  9. 00
    The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric (Rubbah)
  10. 12
    Summerland by Michael Chabon (anglemark)

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English (154)  Czech (1)  French (1)  All languages (156)
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
I was a little worried by the fact that Mieville's latest is a foray into "children's" fiction, but I needn't have. This is an excellent book, and destined to be a classic of young people's fiction. It really is that good.
It does owe a definite debt (acknowledged) to Neil Gaiman's 'Neverwhere' - and it also reminded me of The Phantom Tollbooth (which comparison I am not positive is completely relevant, since I haven't read that since I was a kid) - but I got a similar feeling from it.

Pretty, blond Zanna and her buddy, the darker, shorter Deeba (I'm assuming she's of Indian descent, but it's never directly stated), are a couple of British schoolgirls who have been encountering a bunch of strange events lately. Staring animals, odd attentions, animated umbrellas, and total strangers approaching Zanna, saying they're thrilled as can be to meet the Shwazzy. (It takes a French class for them to figure that one out).
Soon the two girls are mysteriously transported to Un Lun Dun, a bizarre alternate version of London, where Zanna is asked to help defeat the evil Smog that is taking over the city...
But things don't work out quite as the prophecies had predicted...

In this book, Mieville totally succeeds in subverting stereotypes, making political and environmental statements, and giving quite a lot of social commentary - without being annoying or preachy AT ALL. Which is really a pretty amazing feat. On top of that, the story is clever, witty, entertaining, and definitely can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. It's not nearly as challenging in the violent-and-disgusting departments as his other books, but it's definitely recognizably Mieville - and actually quite spooky, at times. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Looong. ( )
  AmeliaHerring | Jan 22, 2016 |
I feel a bit bad for not falling in love with this book, because it's SO GOOD.

I'm not sure why, but it's taken me literally a month to read. Maybe it's because of everything going on in life, I dunno. For whatever reason, I could not get immersed in this book, which is a real shame because it seems like an awesome book to get immersed in.

The world is beautiful. And the characters are beautiful. And the plot is beautiful. I don't want to go into too much detail, because I don't want to give it away.

But it's very very beautiful. ( )
  BrynDahlquis | Sep 12, 2015 |
I attempted to read this book and simply could not get into it. The sentences were far too choppy for my reading tastes, and the genre of urban fantasy with odd character names did not work for me.
  thornton37814 | Mar 10, 2015 |
Strange things have been happening around Zanna and Deeba. A graffiti, far out of the reach of humans, reads 'Zanna For Ever'. Animals appear to bow to her (well, except the cats), and three squirrels come and offer acorns at her feet. But then there is a more alarming development when a car accident seems aimed at Zanna. Finally, the girls follow a broken umbrella that hangs outside Zanna's window before it creeps back underneath a tower block.

What they discover is astonishing. They emerge in UnLondon, a place all the lost and broken things of London fall too, and are efficiently utilised by the inhabitants of the city. But they're also emerged at a bad time, as there are mutterings and threats in the air, and when the citizens begin to show an unusual amount of attention towards Zanna, the girls find they must flee to safety.

The following excerpt gives some idea as to the nonsensical and fantastical found within the pages:

"From these heights, Deeba could see the UnLondon-I, the flickering of Wraithtown, the dark tiles of the Roofdom. She could see the glimmer of the river bisecting the city, the two enormous iron crocodile heads squatting on either side of it.

The night sky crawled with moving stars. A flying bus cut across the front of the loon. ... In the midst of the roofscape of mixed-up architecture, of huge tiger paws and apple cores and weirder things that served as houses alongside more conventional structures, was a darkness."

Binjas (ninja dustbins), murderous giraffes, Slaterunners and Webminster, everything within UnLondon is weirder and more wonderful than that above, but as the threat from the Smog grows, it falls to an unlikely source to save the city.

The acknowledgements at the end mention Neil Gaiman as a source of encouragement and inspiration, and there are more than a few similarities here to Neverwhere, which is surely a ringing endorsement for those who love this kind of bizarre and eccentric fantasy. Mieville has the same love of the strange and twisted, and each new creature spawned from his imagination is a wonder to behold. The occasional illustrations dotted through the book are a pleasant surprise, and the story twists and turns with a plot that makes you eat up the pages and never guess what might be coming next. ( )
1 vote lunacat | Mar 2, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
This is Miéville’s first book for younger readers. It is also copiously (and well) illustrated by the author. In it Zanna and Deeba, two of a group of normal young teenagers in London, are beset by strange occurrences. They are attacked by smoke tendrils, freaked out by an ambulatory umbrella and Zanna is addressed as Shwazzy several times during different chance encounters in one of which she is given a card naming her as such.

Soon they are both transported to a strange place where the sun is too large - and doughnut shaped - weird and colourful characters abound and telecommunications work through the medium of what can only be described as carrier wasps. Zanna is revealed as the choisi - chosen – the girl who will save the abcity of Un Lun Dun (unLondon) from the menace of the Smog. She is presumed to know the details of the Armets and their secret weapon the Klinneract which saved real London and drove the Smog to Un Lun Dun. (This parallel existence also contains other abcities such as Parisn’t, Lost Angeles, Sans Francisco and Hong Gone.)

The book which contains the Shwazzy prophecy - and which speaks morosely a la Eeyore or Marvin - turns out to be wrong, though, and Zanna is unable to help. She is incapacitated by the Smog whose attack is only driven off by using specially slit and treated unbrellas made by Mister Brokkenbroll to ward off the smog’s projectiles. With this apparent victory Deeba and the still far from well Zanna return to London. But Deeba cannot forget her experiences, realises that not all may be well in Un Lun Dun and so makes her return. On her quest to find a weapon to defeat the Smog she is accompanied by the aforementioned Book of Prophecy, Bling, a silver furred locust, Diss, a brown bear cub, a four-armed, four-legged, many-eyed man called Cauldron, a half-ghost, half-normal boy called Hemi, and Curdle, an animated milk carton Deeba adopts as a pet.

There are some nice coinages - mostly portmanteau words like smombies, Propheseers and smoglodytes. Mister Brokkenbroll - the Unbrellissimo - is a particularly redolent case. There are also glazed, wooden framed, eight legged things called Black Windows. These are just a few examples of Miéville's playful linguistic invention.

There is more than a hint of Alice in Un Lun Dun though generally Through The Looking Glass rather than Adventures In Wonderland. This is underlined on page 296 when the Speaker of Talklands echoes Humpy Dumpty by saying, “WORDS MEAN WHATEVER I WANT.” We also have a pair of Tweedledum/Tweedledee-ish mitre-wearing clerics, in white and deep red robes respectively, who only move in zig-zags. There are parallels too with THE CITY & YTIC EHT Miéville’s recent adult novel.

Un Lun Dun is an enjoyable romp. For its target audience I would have thought it might be more than a touch too long, though its young readers may welcome a long immersion in Miéville’s skewed world.
added by jackdeighton | editA Son Of The Rock, Jack Deighton

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
China Miévilleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hall, AugustCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosson, ChristopheTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In an unremarkable room, in a nondescript building, a man sat working on very non-nondescript theories.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345458443, Paperback)

What is Un Lun Dun?

It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too–including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book.

When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last. But then things begin to go shockingly wrong.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:30 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Stumbling into an alternate funhouse version of her home city, twelve-year-old Londoner Deeba finds herself trapped in a world of killer giraffes, animated umbrellas, and ghost children, and must take on the role of savior to prevent utter destruction.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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