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GROUP READ: Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

2013 Category Challenge

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1luvamystery65
Nov 9, 2013, 1:16pm Top

Un Lun Dun by China Miéville



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.

2luvamystery65
Edited: Nov 9, 2013, 2:07pm Top

About the author from Wikipedia

China Tom Miéville (born 6 September 1972) is an English fantasy fiction author, comic writer and academic. He is fond of describing his fiction as "weird fiction" (after early twentieth century pulp and horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft), and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird.

Other work by the author.

Bas-Lag series

Perdido Street Station (2000)
The Scar (2002)
Iron Council (2004)

Stand alone works

King Rat (1998)
The Tain (2002)
Un Lun Dun (2007)
The City & the City (2009)
Kraken (2010)
Embassytown (2011)
Railsea (2012)

3luvamystery65
Edited: Nov 9, 2013, 7:33pm Top

This group read is for DECEMBER but with the holidays looming I thought to get a head start and get the thread up and running.

Please don't forget to mark your ***SPOILERS***

4christina_reads
Nov 9, 2013, 6:24pm Top

I'm looking forward to this! Thanks for setting up the thread, luvamystery65.

5mathgirl40
Nov 9, 2013, 6:33pm Top

I've got the book on my shelf and will be joining the group read in December!

6Zozette
Edited: Nov 9, 2013, 6:55pm Top

I have been reading The Library Book and one of the pieces in it is a chapter from Un Lun Dun and it has really increased my desire to read the book.

7DeltaQueen50
Nov 9, 2013, 7:00pm Top

I have Un Lun Dun all ready to go on my Kindle. Looking forward to this.

8luvamystery65
Nov 9, 2013, 7:32pm Top

Christina, Paulina, Zozette, & Judy Welcome to the Un Lun Dun thread! I've been wanting to read this book since last year but I've waited because it was the group consensus to read in December. I'm glad you will be joining me and I hope we get a few others.

9katiekrug
Nov 9, 2013, 11:38pm Top

I'm planning to read Un Lun Dun in December, too!

10clfisha
Nov 10, 2013, 9:23am Top

I read this last year & so will be interested to see what you all think.

11benitastrnad
Nov 10, 2013, 11:07am Top

I checked and my library has it so will get it this a little later this month. I am already committed to read The Circle for the 1 Librarything 1 book group read so will get to this one after that.

12luvamystery65
Nov 10, 2013, 11:38am Top

Katie - I was hoping you would be able to join us.

Claire - I'm interested in your thoughts as well.

Benita - I'm reading The Circle for the book group too. I haven't even started. I have library books to finish first. I'll get to Un Lun Dun in December but I wanted to post the thread up sooner rather than later. I'm glad you will join us.

13lkernagh
Nov 10, 2013, 2:13pm Top

My copy is waiting patiently on the bookshelf.... looking forward to dipping back into one of Mieville's books.

14luvamystery65
Nov 10, 2013, 7:31pm Top

Lori - I'm glad you are joining us. This will be my first Miéville but I really believe it is right up my alley.

15cbl_tn
Nov 10, 2013, 7:42pm Top

This is well outside my usual reading choices, but I'm going to give it a try.

16mathgirl40
Nov 10, 2013, 10:15pm Top

I've read three Miéville books and thought each one of them was brilliant. I'm definitely looking forward to Un Lun Dun.

17luvamystery65
Nov 11, 2013, 9:11am Top

Carrie - Aren't group reads great! I have read so many books outside my usual this past year. I'm happy you will be joining us.

Paulina - Which three have you read? I want to read The City and The City next.

18msf59
Nov 11, 2013, 10:01am Top

Well, it looks like I am in! And it didn't even take much arm-twisting, did it, Roberta? Thanks for setting this up.
Like I mentioned to you, I have read The City and The City, which I loved and Perdido Street Station, which I had mixed feelings about.

19psutto
Nov 11, 2013, 11:21am Top

oh yeah I'm supposed to be doing this aren't I? hmmm it also fits a category - hooray!

read the city and the city without reading ANYTHING about it before hand - it'll be better if you do!

20mathgirl40
Nov 11, 2013, 11:06pm Top

>17 luvamystery65:: I really liked Perdido Street Station, but The City and the City blew me away. I'd listened to it on audiobook, and the narration by John Lee was excellent. I agree with Pete that you should just launch into it without reading any reviews or synopses. I didn't like Embassytown so much when I'd first read it, but the more I think about it, the more I find myself changing my mind about it. I found it a challenging read, and I believe I'll have to do a re-read in the future to fully appreciate it.

21mamzel
Nov 12, 2013, 3:52pm Top

I've already read UnLunDun and you guys are in for a treat! His book Embassytown is one of the most mind bending books I've ever read.

22luvamystery65
Nov 12, 2013, 11:51pm Top

Mark - Woohoo I have talked you into a book! What a feat for me because I know you have a ton on your list for the rest of the year.

Pete - Hooray! This little party is getting better and better. Well I must confess I've read a little summary about The City & The City but my monkey brain will have forgotten before I start the book.

Paulina - Too late on reading up about The City & The City but real life has me exhausted and my brain really is a monkey's, flitting from tree to tree. I am not going to think about the book except to request it from the library early next year.

Mamzel - I heard about Un Lun Dun from Valerie (jolerie) last year. Then when I put it in my challenge you had some very nice things to say about it. Now that I have followed you for a year I know your recommendations are right on the money.

23norabelle414
Nov 13, 2013, 9:46am Top

I picked up a copy of this at a library book sale last month so I'll be joining in! I discovered after getting home that the book was an ARC but hopefully there won't be too many differences.

24luvamystery65
Nov 13, 2013, 9:56am Top

Nora - Welcome to our little group read. I hope it won't be too different from the final book. Fingers crossed. Have you read anything else by Miéville? This will be my first book of his.

25norabelle414
Nov 13, 2013, 10:06am Top

>24 luvamystery65: I have not read anything of his yet but I've been meaning to.

26luvamystery65
Nov 19, 2013, 3:37pm Top

Nora - Sorry I didn't reply sooner. I'm glad we are trying out Miéville for the first time. He is an author that has been on TBR for too long.

27christina_reads
Nov 26, 2013, 10:06am Top

Just picked up Un Lun Dun at the library...it will be my first Miéville, which is exciting!

28luvamystery65
Nov 26, 2013, 11:32am Top

Christina - I'm excited too. My library copy is in my hands as we speak (or type).

29luvamystery65
Dec 1, 2013, 6:04pm Top

Well everyone it is officially December and I've started the book. I'm on Chapter 21 and I'm liking the story so far.

30Zozette
Edited: Dec 1, 2013, 6:37pm Top

I am only up to chapter 5 because it is now summer here and I have been stuck in the garde listening to an audio book (The Book Thief) as I work.

So far I am enjoying Un Lun Dun.

31christina_reads
Dec 3, 2013, 1:44pm Top

What does everybody think so far? I've read through Chapter 27, and so far I'm liking the book, but it's not grabbing me as much as I hoped it would. The world of the novel is very imaginative and clever, but the plot seems boring by comparison. Two girls discover a strange world, one of them is some kind of Chosen One, and they have to save the inhabitants of this strange world before returning to their own...it's not exactly original, is it? I guess I just feel like things haven't really gotten going yet. Hopefully I'll change my mind as I get farther into the book.

32luvamystery65
Dec 3, 2013, 7:40pm Top

Christina I am about to start Chapter 31. My thoughts so far are that it is definitely written with a younger audience in mind. It's labeled YA but it reads more juvenile to me. Looking at it from that perspective it not original as you've stated but enjoyable enough. I do hope the story picks up a little more and I want to see where he takes Deeba. The story would lend itself to audio very well with the right narrator. I was not able to find it on audio but I would be interested to hear it done.

33cbl_tn
Dec 3, 2013, 7:44pm Top

I've read about the first 12 chapters. Since this is outside my usual reading material, it hasn't struck me as unoriginal. I don't have a lot of past reads to compare it to. What I really like about the book so far is the alternate London, which is why I wanted to read the book in the first place since I lived in London for several years.

34benitastrnad
Dec 3, 2013, 10:08pm Top

Aristotle didn't think that many plots were original. He said that there are only 7 kinds of stories and all stories fall into one of those seven categories. Stories are simply a variation on a theme.

I haven't started the book yet because I am still trying to finish my real life book discussion book for December. It reads fast so I should start reading sometime this week.

35luvamystery65
Dec 3, 2013, 10:11pm Top

Benita you read a wide variety of genres. I am very interested in your thoughts on the book.

What are you reading for your RL book group?

36SandDune
Dec 4, 2013, 3:38am Top

I've read Un Lun Dun twice previously (once to my son when he was around nine and once to myself) and I would agree that it is aimed at a younger audience. I'm not very keen on the YA label as it covers such a wide variety of books - every thing that aimed at a reader older than eight is called YA. But despite that it's a book that I enjoyed very much, not so much for the originality of the plot, more that I loved Mieville's creation of the alternate London and it's inhabitants.

37christina_reads
Dec 4, 2013, 9:53am Top

It's not so much that I mind an unoriginal plot...I think I just expected more from Miéville because I've heard so many great things about how imaginative/unique/mind-bending his books are. But as many of you have said, this book is aimed at younger readers, so perhaps it's less experimental than his adult novels.

That said, I am actually enjoying the book a lot more now! (I've read through chapter 63 at this point.) Things have picked up a lot, and the quest has gotten more complicated and interesting. So I may end up eating my words from earlier. :)

38mamzel
Dec 4, 2013, 11:56am Top

I think many authors are reaching (or lowering depending on your view) to younger readers. I'm thinking of Bacigalupi (who just came out with a book for middle school), Gaiman, Grisham, Higson, and Patterson off the top of my head. I'm hoping their motive is not purely commercial but to get readers hooked at an early age to read their adult titles when they get old enough. I have read this book and agree that it would be most appreciated by tween-agers even with the YA classification. Railsea is aimed more for the teen readers. We also have Kraken, Perdido Street Station and King Rat in my library.

39benitastrnad
Dec 4, 2013, 7:40pm Top

#35
We are reading In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White. It is about the last leper colony in the U. S. It is reading fast, but I find I don't much like Mr. White. He is selfish and shallow. But I like the book - so far.

In my opinion the world of YA books is going upper and lower at the same time. Most YA books are now intended for an audience of people 18 - 25. This is evident by the length of the books - they keep getting longer and longer. The content is also getting more and more adult. Sex, violence, etc. are ram pent in YA books. In fact there is probably not much difference between the content of a YA book and that of an adult book. At the same time this is happening the authors of adult novels are trying to "cash-in" on the lucrative children's and young adult novel market by writing for that market. It is easier for an adult author to write down than it is for a young adult author to write up. (Think J. K. Rowling.) If you don't count the money machine of the Fifty Shades of Grey series the big blockbuster books in the last ten years have been young adult books. Starting with the Harry Potter books and moving right on to Twilight and to the biggest money maker of all Hunger Games. Not only are authors interested in writing for young people the publishers probably are pushing authors in that direction because the market is so good. A few weeks ago the sales figures for books were released and for the first time in six months a paper hard copy of a book outsold the digitized version of the book even though they were released at the same time. The title of the book - House of Hades by Rick Riordan. It is the fourth book in The Olympians series. Publishers and authors make more money off of hard copy books than they do off of digitized copies for many reasons, but it is interesting that a YA book sold more hard copies than digitized. You would think it would be the other way around. Surely young people are more comfortable with digitized books than with paper books?

It is also noteworthy that it was not young people alone who made Twilight and Hunger Games such big hits. Look at the number of adults who have read those books. These are cross over hits. (I have read all of the Percy Jackson series and intend to keep reading more by Riordan. His books are great good fun.) If a book can be read by young people starting about age 8 and by people aged 80 you have multiplied your potential market by a huge number.

Aside from readers - who really don't care about genre - most of them are just looking for a good book, who benefits from a wider audience? Mostly it is the publishers (who are owned by the huge entertainment conglomerates). Traditionally, YA and children's authors are paid much less than adult authors. That is beginning to change, but it is still true that YA and Children's authors get paid less. Contrary to popular opinion, most modern day authors don't get paid royalties. The royalties get paid to the publisher. The authors get a flat fee up front. They tend to not get a percentage of the sales. But that pendulum may swing the other way as well.

All of that is the long way of saying that there will probably be more and more of the crossover writing going on in the future.

As for China Meiville - he seems to be somewhat of a rebel in the book world. He is radical politically and he refuses to be locked into any one genre. He says that he writes weird fiction. His goal is to write a book that fits into every genre. I wonder what genre Un Lun Dun fits into? Now I am curious and can't wait to finish the book I am on and move to the next one.

40ronincats
Dec 4, 2013, 11:40pm Top

I'll be lurking, although I don't know that I'll find time to re-read the book. Definitely a children's book, in the time-honored British tradition of Diana Wynne Jones, Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, and E. Nesbitt, and very different from any of Miéville's other books.

41Kiwi_Jim
Dec 5, 2013, 5:29pm Top

I love China Miéville. He's one of my favourite authors. He is a true wordsmith digging up lost words, grabbing them from other languages, inventing his own when needed.

He is heavy on style though and I think this could be a turn off for some people, for example the exact thing I love about Embassytown, the alienation that the reader feels after being thrown in the deep end, being hammered with invented words and jargon with little explanation, and having to flail in the dark for something solid, something to get a grip on, this works perfectly in a book trying to talk about language, trying to describe how alien the aliens are in it. It makes for a hard first 100 pages, and many would say not so accessible. I loved it. And felt rewarded for my hard work later on in the book.

For those wanting something more accessible Un Lun Dun or King Rat are good choices. They would both be good for Neil Gaiman lovers.

Whilst The City & The City is a typical enough crime story wrapped inside a unique world that plays on the ludicrous nature of manmade borders. Whilst also saying something about white tape & bureaucracy. There was something about it that reminded me subtly of Kafka's Trial. The idea in this book whilst a good one, sometimes seems to get more attention from the author than the actual story. Still loved it though, so unique & interesting.

Railsea is basically Mobydick inserted into the Miéville-verse.

Kraken is also in the Neil Gaiman Neverwhere vein, but it's unique ideas and characters again seem to be given more attention than keeping the plot moving at times. I'm willing to put up with this however for the fact that it is refreshing to see an Author put so much effort into trying to break convention & create something new. And he doesn't dally too much.

If you enjoy these titles, then I'd say you would be keen on the mammoth trilogy that is Perdido St Station, The Scar & Iron Council.

Just my 2 cents.

42luvamystery65
Dec 6, 2013, 5:09pm Top

#36 Rhian I bet Un Lun Dun was fun to read to your son. I myself am enjoying the characters the further into the book I get.

#37 Christina I am about halfway through the book now. I'm enjoying the direction the story is going. Even though it is geared to a younger audience it does give you something to think about in regards to societies willingness to discard so many things regardless of the consequences.

Some of comments above talk about Miéville's other works which seem to be more mind bending and alternative. I would like to explore some of his other works.

#38 Mamzel in regards to adult authors writing for a younger audience I'm hoping their motive is not purely commercial but to get readers hooked at an early age to read their adult titles when they get old enough. I hope so too.

#39 Benita thank you so much for your comments on the publishing world and the popularity of YA books. I had no idea it was so difficult to switch genres. I suppose that is why authors write under different names. You are correct that adults have made some of these series bigger hits than young readers. I think with the movies franchises even more is riding on these series.

This book reads like a children's book to me and as I delve further in I am really enjoying the story.

In The Sanctuary of Outcasts sounds intriguing. Did Mr. White have leprosy or was he just sentenced to work at the facility?

43luvamystery65
Dec 6, 2013, 5:16pm Top

#40 Roni welcome! Glad you are lurking.

#41 Kiwi Jim thank you for all the background on the Miéville universe! Your 2 cents is very much appreciated. I plan on reading The City & The City in 2014. I love police procedural novels and I am gaining appreciation for fantasy and alternative fiction. It seems like the logical next choice.

44luvamystery65
Dec 6, 2013, 5:17pm Top

We still have a few folks that are just about to get started on the book. I can't wait to hear from them.

45cbl_tn
Dec 6, 2013, 5:49pm Top

I'm also about halfway through. I didn't have any idea what to expect, and it's been a fun read so far. It's always a good sign when I keep reading "just one more chapter" before putting the book down to do something I need to do.

46luvamystery65
Dec 6, 2013, 5:55pm Top

Carrie - I think I skipped your post #33. Sorry about that. What is your favorite part or characters so far? I liked the binjas and I love that Curdle has attached himself to Deeba.

47cbl_tn
Dec 6, 2013, 6:02pm Top

I'd agree with your choices, plus Deeba. She's smart and spunky. I think she's the character I would have wanted to be if I had read this in my childhood.

48msf59
Dec 6, 2013, 6:47pm Top

I listened to about the first 30 chapters, so that's a chunk. Of course. it reminded me immediately of Neverwhere, although it's not grabbing me like that book. There are some fun ideas here though. I cracked up when I learned what the title was. Like, Duh! I just hope it gets a bit stronger as it goes. Sorry, if I'm being a stick in the mud.

49luvamystery65
Dec 6, 2013, 10:16pm Top

Carrie - Absolutely!

Mark - No worries my friend. I think this is geared to children although it's labeled YA. I can enjoy it very much in that context.

50christina_reads
Dec 7, 2013, 9:32am Top

@ 48 -- I had the same thought about Neverwhere -- I think Miéville even mentioned Gaiman in the acknowledgments! For those of you who have read both books, did you find them too similar? Did Miéville rip off Gaiman's idea, or was his take on an alternate London sufficiently distinctive? Personally, I was reminded a lot more of Jasper Fforde than of Gaiman, mostly due to the hilarious/ridiculous puns.

Also, I finished the book yesterday! I really liked the way in which everything was resolved, although Miéville did leave a pretty huge clue in the middle of the book as to how things would end. Nothing AND the UnGun -- obviously that wasn't going to be a typo! Overall, I ended up enjoying this book a lot more than I thought I would, and I'm interested in trying another Miéville at some point.

51cbl_tn
Dec 7, 2013, 11:01am Top

I finished it this morning. I really liked it, but at the same time it's not a book I'll want to re-read. I was also reminded of Jasper Fforde as I read. I haven't read any of Neil Gaiman's books so I can't compare the two.

52luvamystery65
Dec 7, 2013, 8:26pm Top

I finished this book today. I have not read any of Miéville's other works but I am game.

The book is definitely a children's book. I would love for my great nieces and nephews to read this. I will recommend this book for kids and adults who love children's literature. I thought Deeba was very relatable and I found myself rooting for her.

I haven't read any Jasper Fforde but now I think I need to look into his work.

I'll comment more as others posts.

53mathgirl40
Dec 7, 2013, 9:53pm Top

I just started the book a couple of days ago and am only on Chapter 16. It's definitely different from Miéville's other works and feels much more like a children's book, but I'm enjoying it so far.

54DeltaQueen50
Dec 8, 2013, 5:07pm Top

I have also just started Un Lun Dun and am still getting over my surprise at how different this is from the other book of his that I have read which was Perdido Street Station, this is definitely a children's book. Only 6 chapters in at this time, but so far I am enjoying the story, but like Mark this book hasn't grabbed me right from the start like Neverwhere did.

55luvamystery65
Edited: Dec 9, 2013, 11:25am Top

Paulina and Judy - Keep us posted on what you think of the book.

What would you recommend as my next Miéville?

ETA: Paulina I scrolled back up and found your thoughts on Miéville's other works. Hmm...

56benitastrnad
Dec 9, 2013, 2:08pm Top

In my Publisher's Weekly On-line notices this morning was a link to a story on the CBS News regarding the sales of YA novels. The news article as aired on December 8, 2013. I tried to copy the link here but it won't copy. However, the articles said that 80% of the YA books sales are to people over the age of 18. 24% of total book sales are books that are classed as YA novels. The story also mentioned the fact that James Patterson and David Baldacci are flocking to write YA novels because of the sales. The publishers point to the huge success of the Harry Potter books as the beginning of the trend. Most of the readers of the Harry Potter books were older than 18 making it the first cross over hit.

57mathgirl40
Dec 9, 2013, 9:49pm Top

>55 luvamystery65:: I'm almost halfway and still enjoying Un Lun Dun. I think Miéville's illustrations really add to the charm. As for which book to read next, Roberta, I'd probably recommend Perdido Street Station, which shows Miéville's brilliance at world building even more than Un Lun Dun does. I liked The City and the City even more, but it's a very different kind of book. Actually, all of the Miéville books I've read are quite different from one another. He's one versatile writer!

58luvamystery65
Dec 9, 2013, 10:50pm Top

Thanks Paulina! The City & The City appeals to me because it has an element of police procedure but I think I'll get my feet wet with Perdido Street Station.

59benitastrnad
Dec 10, 2013, 11:38am Top

I just started reading last night and immediately I noticed the illustrations. At first I didn't get that they had something to do with the chapter. What's a broken umbrella doing at the head of the chapter? Then I got it. I didn't recall that anybody here had talked about the illustrations and was going to ask that question first thing this morning but you guys bet me to it. I think that the illustrations really add to the book.

60luvamystery65
Dec 10, 2013, 11:41am Top

Benita - I love the illustrations. That is one reason I want to share the book with my great nieces and nephew. The binjas are fabulous and my favorite is the one with the numchucks. What a fun easy Halloween costume that would make.

61benitastrnad
Edited: Dec 10, 2013, 6:41pm Top

At first I thought the umbrella illustration was strange. Then I read the chapter. I went back and looked at the umbrella illustration and found it rather creepy. I wonder how many of the rest of you have the illustrations in your books?

The illustrations remind me of drawings by somebody else - but I can't remember who, or what book. In that book at the beginning of each chapter was a little drawing that had something to do with the chapter. This reminds of the same thing. I may have to go check my book notebooks to find out which one as thinking about these drawings will drive me crazy.

62luvamystery65
Dec 10, 2013, 6:41pm Top

Benita - How far are you in the book? Yes the umbrellas are creepy but its not their fault. That is all I will say unless I know where you are in the book

Have you seen the binjas yet? I love the binjas!

63benitastrnad
Dec 10, 2013, 6:51pm Top

I got to chapter 7 last night and will be reading away tonight.

64benitastrnad
Dec 11, 2013, 8:07pm Top

I am up to chapter 13 and this book is making me laugh. Things are so funny. The bridge that moves. The Slatewalkers who are only a few feet off the ground. What a hoot! And Curdle.

I was laughing at lunch and somebody asked me what was so funny. I said Romeless. Sans Francisco. Lost Angeles. Parisn't. Hong Gong. How does this guy think of these things?

65DeltaQueen50
Dec 11, 2013, 11:28pm Top

I finished Un Lun Dun today. Although it wasn't quite my cup of tea, I gave it 4 stars as I can see that this book would be an excellent read for fantasy-loving children. I may be reading this again with my granddaughter, I think she would enjoy both the story and the humor.

66christina_reads
Dec 12, 2013, 9:50am Top

I'm curious about whether people perceived the book as being a bit preachy on the subject of environmentalism. The message about reducing pollution and waste seems pretty clear to me (with the villain literally being Smog and all...). Do you think the book is too message-driven, or is it a good way to teach children about environmental issues?

67luvamystery65
Dec 12, 2013, 9:59am Top

Benita - The names of the abcities were very clever.

Judy - I hope your Granddaughter enjoys it.

Christina - It was very obvious the author's thoughts on environmentalism. It would make a great teaching tool for children. I have not read anything by Miéville but from what I have read about him, his point of view comes through his work.

68luvamystery65
Dec 12, 2013, 9:59am Top

Those that have read Miéville do you think his POV/politics is blatant in his other work as much as Un Lun Dun or is it toned down?

69benitastrnad
Dec 12, 2013, 11:52am Top

#66
The version of the book I am reading is designed for use in the classroom and comes with a classroom guide complete with projects.

In-my-opinion, this is a very good book to use in the classroom. I work with undergraduate education majors and could easily see this being used in the classroom. I told somebody about it yesterday and said that it would work well in grades 5 - 9, but probably not much higher than that. Or lower either, as the wordplay is fairly sophisticated and younger or less able readers might have trouble picking up on that. The message is very clear, but for classroom use I think it would work.

I have not read any other work by Mieville, but have had his books on my to read list for some time. From what I have read about him as a person he makes no bones about his political views. He is a very active socialist. What I have read about him as an author is much the same, but since I have not read his adult work I can't address that as readily. I would like to hear what others who have read more of his work have to say on this subject.

70cbl_tn
Dec 12, 2013, 12:37pm Top

>66 christina_reads: I thought at times that it was a little too preachy, but I'm not sure that children would notice it. It wasn't as heavy-handed as many other things I've read.

71shurikt
Edited: Dec 12, 2013, 12:46pm Top

If you enjoyed this, see if you can haunt a comic book store long enough to collect Mieville's run on "Dial H for Hero."

72Kiwi_Jim
Dec 12, 2013, 6:49pm Top

I think every author's point of view comes across in their work whether they want it to or not.

Every book Iv'e read of Miéviles has had something to say other than the story. There has always been multiple layers, different depths to dive into.

I don't think he writes with it in mind but it probably comes out subconsciously.

73DeltaQueen50
Dec 12, 2013, 9:16pm Top

I think when the author decided to write a book that was aimed at a younger audience, he chose to be more forthcoming on his pollution message. In his other work, although I am far from familiar with most of it, the message is more layered and subtle.

74benitastrnad
Dec 13, 2013, 6:31pm Top

#60
Met the Binja's and love them. What a great idea.

75ronincats
Dec 13, 2013, 7:05pm Top

I think that something that did turn me off the first time I read it is how overt and didactic the message is. On the other hand, on my reread now, I am relishing all the little word plays. I tried looking up the Armets' secret weapon, the "klinneract" and, while I can't find any legislation sponsored by Klinner, there IS a letter to a Mr. Klinner from the EPA and a court record. "Complainant is the Director of the Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, Region 4, United States Environmental Protection Agency(EPA). Respondent is KMAC Services, 2631 FL Shuttlesworth Drive, Birmingham, Alabama 35234, hereinafter, Y Respondent")." I didn't find any such act in England.

Yes, the binjas were fun.

76mathgirl40
Edited: Dec 13, 2013, 10:14pm Top

I agree with Judy that in Miéville's other books, the underlying messages are more complex and delivered more subtly. Perhaps, for this reason, they have an even greater impact. Each time I finished one of his books, I found I spent a good deal of time thinking over what he was trying to convey.

Roni, I'm enjoying the wordplay in Un Lun Dun as well. I'm on chapter 62 now. I'm a huge fan of Scrabble, crossword puzzles and other word games, and I absolutely loved chapters 59 and 60. Even the chapter titles were hilarious. I won't say more, for fear of spoiling it for readers who've not come this far yet. :)

77-Eva-
Edited: Dec 15, 2013, 12:17am Top

I'd agree with the environmental message being a little heavy-handed in this one (compared to his other novels), but I'm not sure it would be taken as such for a child. His other books are very political too, but they are more made to make you think than to preach, I think.

I love all the side characters in this one - the binjas, the evil giraffes, and especially Curdle. :)

->75 ronincats:
Klinneract = Clean Air Act.

78gennyt
Dec 14, 2013, 12:47pm Top

Chiming in here (I read this a few months ago) to say that unlike many I did not feel this had a heavy-handed environmental message. Even as a child myself 40 years ago, we were very aware that smog was very unpleasant and unhealthy thing, and I remember learning about the measures that had been taken (including the Clean Air Act) to tackle the pollution which caused it. In some adult novels written about London in earlier times, the smog sometimes appears almost live and malevolent (I'm thinking of Margery Allingham's The Tiger in the Smoke, as well as much earlier Dickens' Bleak House so Miéville personifying the Smog as the 'baddy' made perfect sense and did not seem at all forced.

I suppose the only possibly controversial aspect of the plot (the details of which are already fading so I hope I'm remembering right) is the way the politicians from the real London who are responsible for the environment turn out to be in league with the Smog - which says something about Miéville's distrust of politicians in general perhaps.

79luvamystery65
Dec 14, 2013, 11:58pm Top

Backing up to #69

#69 Benita - How very fortunate you have a classroom copy of the book. I would love to get a peek at that version

#70 Carrie - I think some kids are pretty savvy and would realize there is a message but a lot of children's literature has a message.

#71 shurikt - Thanks for that tip! I took a quick, very quick, peek on the web and I will be tracking this down for a sample.

#72 Kiwi Jim - I think every author's point of view comes across in their work whether they want it to or not. Very good point but I think in Un Lun Dun it was more obvious. As I said above to Carrie a lot of literature aimed at a younger audience does have a strong message or POV. I am really looking forward to reading something else by him. (See below Judy's comments. She said what I wanted to say perfectly.)

#73 Judy - I think when the author decided to write a book that was aimed at a younger audience, he chose to be more forthcoming on his pollution message. In his other work, although I am far from familiar with most of it, the message is more layered and subtle. Perfectly put.

#74 Benita - I may really look into a binja costume if LT has another literature costume contest for Halloween next year. :)

#75 Roni - The word play was fantastic!

#76 Paulina - All this gushing about his other works really makes me want to read something else by him right now! If you saw the books on my nightstand you would realize that it would be dangerous for me. I think I'll slot another one of his in for Fantasy February over in the 75ers. He should fit that category well.

#77 Eva - I honestly think that it was written "preachy" because most books for a younger audience are written that way. Curdle just melted my heart.

#78 gennyt - You have given me something to think about. Very true about the pollution being written about in earlier works. I will have to look at The Tiger in the Smoke.

80luvamystery65
Dec 14, 2013, 11:59pm Top

How relevant is this book right now? The Chinese government in addressing their smog problem now has their media saying it is good for its citizens.

Here is a link to the story http://news.yahoo.com/chinese-government-tries-to-spin-smog-as-a-healthy-benefit...

81Zozette
Dec 15, 2013, 1:37am Top

I am only a quarter of the way through the book. My reading is hampered by the fact that it is a beginning of summer and I am very busy gardening. I have been listening to an audio book as I garden, maybe I should have bought Un Dun Lun as an audio book (but if I had I would have missed out on the pictures).

I would have really loved this book if I had read it as a child.

82luvamystery65
Dec 15, 2013, 5:23pm Top

Zozette - Enjoy your summer gardening and enjoy those illustrations. They make the experience better. The pace picks up about half way through and then it just keeps going. We'll be here.

83benitastrnad
Dec 16, 2013, 1:07pm Top

I finally had an Inter-library Loan copy of the South African thriller Seven Days by Deon Meyer come in. It was supposed to be here in November so for the last three days I have been reading it instead of Un Lun Dun. That small sidetrack aside, I am enjoying this book.

#77
Thanks so much - I would never have thought of the Clean Air Act. How clever of Mieville! In this respect this book reminds me of some of the stuff in Connie Willis.

#79
I am not sure how our library got this copy but it is quite well done - complete with suggestions for classroom activities. It is a paperback and I think it might be available to order. It has a green bar across the top that says it has a Reader's Guide in the back. The reader's guide is really a teacher's guide but the cover doesn't say that. The teacher's guide might also be available on the publisher's web site. The short chapters would make this a perfect read aloud book to use with 5th or 6th graders (children 11-12 years old). The structure would mean that it could be read in-between other classroom activities and not take up a whole period.

84luvamystery65
Dec 20, 2013, 10:09pm Top

How goes it for those still reading?

85Zozette
Dec 21, 2013, 1:13am Top

I have only made it to chapter 43 but I hope to finish it before Christmas. I enjoyed reading about the method Deeba used to get back to UnLondon.

86lkernagh
Dec 21, 2013, 11:17am Top

I completely forgot about posting to the group thread while I was reading! Curdle, book and the binjas made this one such a fun read. I liked how he used pollution and the environment as a theme - garbage that is animated, Smog as the evil threat - but I didn't feel as though he was being heavy handed in conveying a message to the reader. Given how complex some of Mieville's more adult type books are, it was nice to see that he can write for a younger audience as well.

87benitastrnad
Dec 22, 2013, 12:01am Top

I am still reading and enjoying it. I too thought the reading the bookshelves was great.

88mathgirl40
Dec 22, 2013, 11:38am Top

I've finished the book and added a review on my thread. I found the novel enjoyable but definitely not as memorable as his other books and I don't think I'll be going for a reread in the future.

However, there were two aspects to the reading of this book that I liked very much. First, the illustrations were great. Second, it was fun reading this as part of a group read and hearing everybody's thoughts on it as I made progress through the book. Thanks, Roberta, for organizing this!

89luvamystery65
Dec 23, 2013, 10:27am Top

Zozette - Let us know your final thoughts and Happy Christmas!

Lori - I am really looking forward to reading an "adult" Miéville. As for the message, gennyt's post in #78 really made me rethink that this message has been around for some time. I'll have follow up on some of the works she mentions. Merry Christmas!

Benita - When you are done please share your thoughts. Your comments have been informative, and interesting. Thank you for participating in the group. You elevated our discussion. Merry Christmas to you!

Paulina - I agree with you on the illustrations and most definitely about the discussion. We have had some wonderful participants, including you.

This is my first time "hosting" a group read. I had a great time and now I am ready for the next one. ;-) Merry Christmas!

90luvamystery65
Dec 23, 2013, 10:31am Top

A couple of you are reading Bleak House in January. Please see gennyt's post in #78. I found it very interesting.

I don't think I'll be joining that read but now I am curious so I will ask you your thoughts about it after you post your reviews.

91psutto
Dec 30, 2013, 5:40am Top

The book didn't grab me at all, after a couple of abortive tries to read past the first bit I gave up! I think it was just that it was the wrong book for me in the mood I was in so I'm putting it on the shelf to give it another go at some point

92luvamystery65
Dec 30, 2013, 9:19am Top

Pete - Fair enough. I hope you grab a book that suits you. Happy New Year!

93Zozette
Edited: Dec 30, 2013, 11:37pm Top

I am around 90% through and will finish it either today or tomorrow.
There are parts of the book I really like (the bookshelves, the Forest and the Black Windows etc) but I feel that the author has crammed too much into the book, maybe I feel he has tried a little too hard. I expect others might feel differently, so maybe this just wasn't a book suitable for me.

94luvamystery65
Dec 30, 2013, 11:20pm Top

Zozette - The bookshelves were great, the black windows scared me a little. All the possible horrors that could lurk inside. My favorite is still the binjas! I thought they were very cool. Thank you for joining us and sharing your thoughts.

Do you plan to read any of Miéville's other work?

Happy New Year!

95Zozette
Dec 30, 2013, 11:39pm Top

I will probably read some more of his work one day but I have a quite large TBR pile at the moment. Is there one of his books that you would recommend over his other books.

96luvamystery65
Dec 30, 2013, 11:58pm Top

Zozette - I have not read any others but the consensus seems to be that The City & The City is one of his best works. Also, Perdido Street Station seems to have its fans as well. I believe it is part of a loose trilogy.

Lori sent me a copy of Perdido Street Station so that is the next one I will try. I'll pop over to your thread and let you know what I think.

97benitastrnad
Jan 3, 2014, 3:52pm Top

I finished reading the book and I agree with some of the previous statements. I think that the author tried to stuff to much into this one book. It suffered from, what is getting to be a common aliment in the book world, the lack of a good editor. The book should have been at least 100 pages shorter than it was. The lengthy children's book seems to be the trend in children's books and there is no need of it. A well written concise children's book will create memories for the reader to cherish. The book simply does not have to be 500 pages and most certainly this book did not.

Webminster Abby and the Black Windows was the best part of the book. The Bishops were great fun. Who would have thought of Alan Bastor and Ed Bon? Those are great literary puns - but I think the fun of that would have been lost on children, unless they were highly sophisticated readers. But for me, it was great fun to see those puns in print.

98luvamystery65
Jan 5, 2014, 5:41pm Top

Benita - I agree that it was a mixed bag and a little ambitious for the audience. Will you be reading anything else by the author?

99psutto
Jan 6, 2014, 5:33am Top

It was his first children's book which, by the sounds of it, he didn't get quite right. I read his other YA Railsea which was OK. His other books are adult and I'd recommend perdido street station, the city & the city (read blind - i.e. don't read any reviews about it as many give massive spoilers) or embassytown

100luvamystery65
Jan 6, 2014, 9:56am Top

Pete - Lori (lkernagh) sent me a copy of Perdido Street Station! I can't wait to get into it. Thanks for the advice.

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