Un Lun Dun

Un Lun Dun

4.0 25
by China Mieville
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Mieville's compelling heroine and her fantastical journey through the labyrinth of a strange London forms that rare book that feels instantly like a classic and yet is thoroughly modern."
— Holly Black, bestselling author of the YA novels TITHE and VALIANT

 
“A book which shows the world as it truly is: full of marvels and monsters and unexpected opportunities for heroism and magic. UN LUN DUN is delicious, twisty, ferocious fun, a book so crammed with inventions, delights, and unexpected turns that you will want to start reading it over again as soon as you've reached the end.”
— Kelly Link, author of STRANGER THINGS HAPPEN and MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS

Michael Sims
For style and inventiveness, turn to Un Lun Dun, by China Miéville, who throws off more imaginative sparks per chapter than most authors can manufacture in a whole book. Miéville is acclaimed for adult novels such as King Rat. In his first book for a younger audience, he provides verbal paradoxes worthy of Norton Juster's Phantom Tollbooth and humor reminiscent of, if not quite equal to, Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Miéville's heroine, young Deeba, proves a courageous and resourceful companion -- exactly what we need in a tale of nonstop adventure.
— The Washington Post
Dave Itzkoff
…one of the most imaginative young adult novels of the post-Potter era. [Mieville's] "UnLondon," discovered in the book by two schoolgirl heroines named Zanna and Deeba, is a tempting, carefully plotted rebellion against the cotton-candy elsewheres offered up by most children's novels…Beyond its abundant charms, Un Lun Dun never misses an opportunity to undermine the tiresome plot devices and tedious moralizing of traditional fantasy…Most of all, Un Lun Dun is the work of an author fascinated by language, and one who rewards any reader who cares about it half as much as Mieville does.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Miéville (King Rat) presents a remarkable bit of world-building. London teenager Zanna (short for Susanna) starts to experience odd occurrences: clouds that resemble her, strangers who call her the "Shwazzy," and graffiti that reads "Zanna For Ever!" Zanna, it turns out, isthe Shwazzy (choisior "chosen one") of the people of UnLondon (the Un Lun Dun of the title), a surreal mirror-image of London ("Abcities have existed at least as long as the cities," a book of prophecy tells her, "Each dreams the other"). Together, Zanna and her friend Deeba wind up in UnLondon, a Gaiman-esque wonderland of ghosts, zombies, walking garbage cans and sentient umbrellas. (Its people have a sense of humor, describing how they disposed of pre-euro currency, and other parallel "abcities" such as "Parisn't" and "No York"). The Smog, a beast borne of London's "smoke from chemicals and poisons" haunts UnLondon, and it seems that Zanna is the one designated to defeat the Smog. But a twist of fate unleashes unforeseen events and the UnLondoners wind up pinning their hopes on Deeba. Miéville employs a few tricks from the experimental novelist's bag (five-words-long chapters, others that end mid-sentence, puns and wordplay galore) but by and large relies on his formidable storytelling skill for this lengthy yet swift-moving tale that, with a wink and a nod, cuts through archetypal notions of fate and prophecy. Highly recommended for Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker fans especially. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Joe Sutliff Sanders
Two London girls have discovered a secret: If one climbs the right bookcase, twists the right handle, and follows the right umbrella, one can slip into the dark shadow of London, into the city where lost gloves and useless typewriters take a second shot at life. There Zanna and Deeba meet a half-ghost, a conductor of more than public transport, and the oddest tailor ever. Together they will face one of London's forgotten monsters, a creature that has spent decades nursing its hatred. To save London, these girls will have to fight for its twisted mirror image: Unlondon. At a time when the market is glutted with rehashes of fair, young, chosen ones marching to victory, each of them guaranteed success by reassuring, vaguely narcissistic prophecies, this accomplished author's first young adult novel is a wonderful surprise. Instead of minting kings or saviors, Mieville imagines a tween who wins because she outthinks prophecy. The novel is stuffed with imagination, and its vivid, tangible setting is patrolled by bizarre, even funny monsters. The creatures and puzzles represent serious challenges, and success over them always has a cost. The climactic scenes are rendered with real gravity; although the solutions to the friends' struggles are always within the logic of the magical world, things look very hopeless indeed right up to the moment of victory. The plot is driven by the threat of becoming one more forgotten thing in the eclectic streets of Unlondon, but the tone is brightened by the small kindnesses and sincere friendships forged amidst-and sometimes with-the rubbish. The result is a dark, charming, robust, comical adventure played according to new rules.
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Twelve-year-old Deeba never imagined where she would end up the night she accompanied her best friend, Zanna, into the basement of the housing complex. But things had been getting stranger and stranger for her friend, with wild animals bowing to her, total strangers greeting her with reverence, and her name showing up in bridge graffiti. With the turn of a wheel Zanna and Deeba are transported to a fantastical world made up of all the things that are broken or discarded by the inhabitants of their former hometown, London; it is the shadow city, unLondon, where none of the rules of their previous lives apply. Animate milk cartons become pets, specially trained rubbish bins are soldiers, double-decker buses fly, words become creatures, and people dress in clothes made from the pages of books. Your best friends may not be fully human, like half-ghost-half-boy Hemi. Although Zanna is the Chosen One described in the prophecy book, the Smog has stolen her memory and it is left to Deeba to save unLondon from being taken over by evil forces. In his first young adult novel, Mieville creates a wildly imaginative setting and story on a par with Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series. This hefty work has a serious message about pollution and the mindset of disposability, but it's also a good adventure—with intrepid young male and female protagonists—that will appeal to fantasy fans of both genders.
Library Journal
Though it's being marketed as a YA title, Mieville's (The Scar) latest will appeal to his adult fans as well as other adult sf readers. It begins with a conventional fantasy framework: a young person is pulled into another world, turns out to be the hero who's been prophesied, and triumphs over great adversity to save the day. However, it's not long before the conventions are set on their collective ear. The hero is struck down, and the friend once relegated to the role of comic sidekick must take the reins. Other prophecies turn out to be wrong as well, and the enemy's reach spans both the fantasy world and the real London that a 12-year-old named Deeba calls home. Mieville displays his usual flair for creating completely original settings and creatures, including a pet milk carton and some terrifying giraffes. His only nod to the YA audience has been to tone down the eroticism evident in his other works. The characters are well realized and the book has a fair amount of sociopolitical subtext, mostly about questioning the status quo and thinking for oneself. Recommended for most adult sf collections. (Illustrations by the author not seen.)-Narl G. Siewart, Hardesty Regional Lib., Tulsa Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345458445
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/29/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
249,460
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
10 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

1

The Respectful Fox

There was no doubt about it: there was a fox behind the climbing frame. And it was watching.

“It is, isn’t it?”

The playground was full of children, their gray uniforms flapping as they ran and kicked balls into makeshift goals. Amid the shouting and the games, a few girls were watching the fox.

“It definitely is. It’s just watching us,” a tall blond girl said. She could see the animal clearly behind a fringe of grass and thistle. “Why isn’t it moving?” She walked slowly towards it.

At first the friends had thought the animal was a dog, and had started ambling towards it while they chatted. But halfway across the tarmac they had realized it was a fox.

It was a cold cloudless autumn morning and the sun was bright. None of them could quite believe what they were seeing. The fox kept standing still as they approached.

“I saw one once before,” whispered Kath, shifting her bag from shoulder to shoulder. “I was with my dad by the canal. He told me there’s loads in London now, but you don’t normally see them.”

“It should be running,” said Keisha, anxiously. “I’m staying here. That’s got teeth.”

“All the better to eat you with,” said Deeba.

“That was a wolf,” said Kath.

Kath and Keisha held back: Zanna, the blond girl, slowly approached the fox, with Deeba, as usual, by her side. They got closer, expecting it to arch into one of those beautiful curves of animal panic, and duck under the fence. It kept not doing so.

The girls had never seen any animal so still. It wasn’t that it wasn’t moving: it was furiously not-moving. By the time they got close to the climbing frame they were creeping exaggeratedly, like cartoon hunters.

The fox eyed Zanna’s outstretched hand politely. Deeba frowned.

“Yeah, it is watching,” Deeba said. “But not us. It’s watching you.”

Zanna—she hated her name Susanna, and she hated “Sue” even more—had moved to the estate about a year ago, and quickly made friends with Kath and Keisha and Becks and others. Especially Deeba. On her way to Kilburn Comprehensive, on her first day, Deeba had made Zanna laugh, which not many people could do. Since then, where Zanna was, Deeba tended to be too. There was something about Zanna that drew attention. She was decent-to-good at things like sports, schoolwork, dancing, whatever, but that wasn’t it: she did well enough to do well, but never enough to stand out. She was tall and striking, but she never played that up either: if anything, she seemed to try to stay in the background. But she never quite could. If she hadn’t been easy to get on with, that could have caused her trouble.

Sometimes even her mates were a little bit wary of Zanna, as if they weren’t quite sure how to deal with her. Even Deeba herself had to admit that Zanna could be a bit dreamy. Sometimes she would sort of zone out, staring skywards or losing the thread of what she was saying.

Just at that moment, however, she was concentrating hard on what Deeba had just said.

Zanna put her hands on her hips, and even her sudden movement didn’t make the fox jump.

“It’s true,” said Deeba. “It hasn’t taken its eyes off you.”

Zanna met the fox’s gentle vulpine gaze. All the girls watching, and the animal, seemed to get lost in something.

. . . Until their attention was interrupted by the bell for the end of break. The girls looked at each other, blinking.

The fox finally moved. Still looking at Zanna, it bowed its head. It did it once, then leapt up and was gone.

Deeba watched Zanna, and muttered, “This is just getting weird.”

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Mieville's compelling heroine and her fantastical journey through the labyrinth of a strange London forms that rare book that feels instantly like a classic and yet is thoroughly modern."
— Holly Black, bestselling author of the YA novels TITHE and VALIANT

 
“A book which shows the world as it truly is: full of marvels and monsters and unexpected opportunities for heroism and magic. UN LUN DUN is delicious, twisty, ferocious fun, a book so crammed with inventions, delights, and unexpected turns that you will want to start reading it over again as soon as you've reached the end.”
— Kelly Link, author of STRANGER THINGS HAPPEN and MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS

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