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Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

Un Lun Dun (original 2007; edition 2008)

by China Mieville

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,7441602,138 (3.85)1 / 388
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)

  1. 160
    Neverwhere 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 (158)  Czech (1)  French (1)  All languages (160)
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
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 |
LOVED it!!

  GeetuM | Jun 3, 2016 |
LOVED it!!

( )
  GeetuM | Jun 3, 2016 |
Un Lun Dun by China Miéville is young adult fantasy novel set in London, initially, and then mainly in Un Lun Dun (un-London). In Un Lun Dun, two young friends, Zanna and Deeba, notice that things seem amiss in their world. They stumble into another world by accident (or prophecy?) where Zanna is the "Shwazzy," or, as they learn in French class choisi, or the "chosen" one. But after their first visit, Zanna is sidelined, all the prophecies appear to be wrong, and Deeba, the sidekick, is the one who finds a way back to Un Lun Dun to save them from the evil, black smog.

Un Lun Dun is a richly imaginative work that, although it can be dark with a building sense of foreboding, also allows Miéville to explore his sense of humor and show a whimsical side. It is well paced and the action moves right along. And, it isn't so dark that it would give it's intended readers nightmares. The predatory giraffes are contrasted with Curdle, the loyal milk carton. There is a good balance. This is successful world-building that will remind readers of Lewis Carroll and Madeline L’Engle stories or Neil Gaimen's Neverwhere. It even foreshadows Miéville's own The City and The City.

For adults there are themes that will be very apparent, for example corruption in government, the problems in disposal of obsolete technology and trash, and abuse of power, to name three, but you need not worry that the message is heavy handed. It's completely woven into the plot.

I enjoyed Un Lun Dun, but I caution adult readers that it is a YA novel. If I were to directly compare it to Miéville's other novels, it would not rate as high as the ones I've read. However, it's a very enjoyable well-written YA novel that has a complex plot and many imaginative characters.

very highly recommended - as a YA novel. http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/
( )
1 vote SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Reads like a modern [book: The Phantom Tollbooth]. Zanna and Deeba, two young friends, are abruptly transported from London to UNlondon, where the obsolete and unwanted bits of London go. There, they fight their way across the city, through menacing trash piles and piratical insects, to reach the Propheseers, who can tell them why they've been transported and why everyone calls Zanna "the Schwazzy". Zanna, it turns out, is spoken of in prophecies as the Chosen One who can defeat the Smog, sentient pollution. But when Zanna is incapacitated, only her sidekick Deeba is left to do battle.

This is a younger book than I expected; the plot and character twists are all obvious. Since there's no suspense, and I felt no emotional connection to Deeba, this book did not excite me. I was frustrated with the numerous inconsistencies (a character is described as too heavy to move quickly one chapter, but then when the plot requires it he's abruptly faster than everyone; Deeba's grammar and vocabulary shifts throughout, etc). Most of all, though, I felt like most of the book was there just to showcase all the self-conciously clever tidbits Mieville came up with. I don't feel like UnLondon is an example of excellent world-building (at which Mieville apparently excells) as much as a bunch of stuff thrown together. It didn't feel like there was a coherent vision behind it. Plus, the whole concept--a London made of trash! an UnChosen One! authority figures are evil!--felt a little overly preciously punk.

Also, the ending sucked. All my annoyances aside, this is certainly a more intentional, considered novel than most of the other YA fantasy being written today. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 158 (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 editionsconfirmed
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)

» see all 6 descriptions

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