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Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

Un Lun Dun (original 2007; edition 2008)

by China Mieville

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2,8021642,081 (3.85)1 / 389
Title:Un Lun Dun
Authors:China Mieville
Info:Del Rey (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library, Secondhand or value buys, To read, To Give Away
Tags:underground, London, young adult, fantasy

Work details

Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (2007)

Recently added bycadolph, private library, korosuzo, JaneEyre72, Jim.Shine, martinb1, LitaVore, Raellwyn
  1. 160
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Phantasma, ahstrick, jolerie)
  2. 90
    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
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  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.
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English (162)  Czech (1)  French (1)  All (164)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
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 |
I know what you’re thinking: Mystical quest. Chosen One. Spunky sidekick. Crossing over to another world. A young girl on a mission to save that world, and maybe our world, too. Epic fantasy. Besides, it’s a kid’s book. Been there, done that. But don’t be too hasty, my friends, because China Mieville has something different in mind.

Imagine a fantasy quest whose Chosen One chooses not to participate. What then? If the person who is supposed to have all the answers lets you down, where do you go from there? Un Lun Dun is ultimately about the idea that any of us can be heroes if we’re willing to take risks and stand up for what we know is right.

And now I’ve gone and made this sound like a boring instructional tract, and nothing could be further from the truth. Check this out: Trashcan warriors. Sentient garbage. Vicious carnivorous giraffes. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, people! In his adult fantasies, Mieville is known for his skill and detail in creating his settings, and this one is no different. Un Lun Dun is a world created out of the detritus of our own world—things that are used up or broken or no longer wanted cross over into Un Lun Dun and find a new purpose: garbage cans can become an elite fighting force and the trash itself can literally take on a life of its own. The detail lavished on secondary characters and even bit players makes them come to life, and the story itself moves quickly. Like Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, Un Lun Dun is clearly meant for a younger audience than most of his other work. But Mieville’s adult audience will enjoy this book as much as Gaiman’s fans enjoyed Coraline.

Un Lun Dun is funny without being frivolous, serious without being pedantic, and scary without being too much for its intended audience. It’s an epic fantasy quest that doesn’t behave at all like you would expect it to, and both kids and adults will be drawn to this strange and wonderful city and its inhabitants (both Good and Bad).
( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
Smashing great read. The boys and I had gas with it. If I'd read it alone I'd have more quibbles, but as a read aloud it was perfect. ( )
  mkunruh | Nov 13, 2016 |
Disappointing. The author had lots of fun ideas for the world-building of UnLondon (yes, it's inconsistently spelled) and he made sure to get them all in. Basically it's just a fast-paced adventure, but 432 pp of small print (in a kids' book!) is just silly... unless there's something more. Well, ok, there were some pictures... but, frankly, I've seen better doodles by creative kids).

The thing is, there isn't anything more. No heart, no depth, no resonance, nothing that speaks to the human condition, nothing that touches one's soul. The closest is that the Chosen One fails, the book of prophecies is sometimes wrong, and Deeba has to step in and test the limits of her courage... but all that is handled rather superficially. I got to the end and asked 'So what?' It felt like a movie that wins the special-effects award but that's the only reason ppl watch it.

I've heard great things about the author but haven't been motivated to read him. When I spotted this in the library, I thought it would make a perfect introduction to his work. However, now I'm even less motivated to read his more famous adult works.

Do his adult works have depth? ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (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

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
China Miévilleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hall, AugustCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosson, ChristopheTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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)

(summary from another edition)

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