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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
2,9421672,786 (3.84)1 / 403
  1. 160
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Phantasma, ahstrick, jolerie)
  2. 90
    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (Phantasma, elbakerone, heidialice)
  3. 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)
  4. 40
    The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers (Scorbet)
  5. 52
    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.
  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 (165)  Czech (1)  French (1)  All languages (167)
Showing 1-5 of 165 (next | show all)
Zanna and Deeba are girls in London who get pulled through into a fantastical parallel version of the city where Zanna is the Chosen One, Deeba is the funny sidekick, and the enemy is the Smog that we banished from our London by sending it over there. Buildings move, people are made of discarded rubbish and birdcages, a bridge can take you anywhere, the elders are defended by sword wielding litter bins called binjas, there's a house made of vinyl records and a bus suspended from balloons. All seems to be going smoothly until the talking book that contains the prophecies of the Chosen One realises it mightn't be as reliable as it likes to think...

Other reviewers have noted that the first 40% of the book feels like a chore. There's lots of spectacle but little characterization or plot momentum; even the relationship between Zanna and Deeba, which should be the easiest thing in the world to put a little life into, seems to consist of purely functional exchanges of information. But after the first scene where Mieville really nails it -- the one you've got to have, where the villain explains his plan -- it sparks into life and doesn't really let go, skewering some children's fantasy cliches (in particular the end of His Dark Materials) while embracing others and keeping up the stream of Tim Burton-like inventiveness. I particularly liked the worker's revolution at the end of the most Phantom Tollbooth-like scene, and the shoutout to Alice in Wonderland in Webminster Abbey, but I couldn't help feeling as they crossed the river in their makeshift boats that the most atmospheric scenes were also in the Borribles and the Borribles did it better.

Very enjoyable in the end, but too long and too flat on characterization. ( )
1 vote WilliamWhyte | May 15, 2018 |
Although it took me some time to get wrapped up in Mieville's Un Lun Dun, by the time I did, I had a hard time putting the book down. The characters and situations were simply fun, and the book moved at such a fast pace that it sometimes seemed to be as much a collage as anything, somewhat reminiscent of something like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but with an adult edge. There were times when I lost track of what details meant or exactly who characters were, as they sometimes blended together, and the frantic pace heightened this effect. But, because things stayed rather centered when it came to the main characters, the book never really lost my interest--it only, at times, became something of a blur.

I am anxious to read some other work by Mieville and see how it compares. This was a lot of fun, but I think I might have enjoyed it more if distinct moments had been given more time to resonate, or more depth--sometimes it felt like I was racing along from one to the next before a moment of danger had had time to sink in!

Nevertheless, I think readers of fast, fun adventures like Alice in Wonderland and the Phantom Tollbooth will enjoy it, and it would also be right up the alley of readers of Vandermeer. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Mar 4, 2018 |
(Read this sometime last week but forgot to log it.) Nice twist on the Un-Heroine. I missed reading a good Quest story. I wish they'd make a stop-motion animated film of this. :) ( )
  mrsrobin | Jun 24, 2017 |
Entertaining. Starts a little slow, but then gets going once they reach the title location. Subverts but also leans into a number of fantasy tropes, with a healthy assortment of Pratchett-style puns. Also included a glossary of Brit-speak, which finally settled for me the difference between the American and British use of the word 'quite'. ( )
  Jon_Hansen | Apr 2, 2017 |
This is an excellent YA fantasy novel which delights in whimsy and puns. Deeba is a kick-ass protagonist and I like how the book nods at and inverts the destined white girl savior narrative. I also like how while the book does not dwell on the fact that Deeba is muslim, it doesn't just ignore it either. The ultimate plot is a little predictable, but Mievelle gets there so cleanly, you don't really mind. ( )
  endlesserror | Dec 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 165 (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 (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
China Miévilleprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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