Un Lun Dun

Un Lun Dun

by China Mieville


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Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345458445
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/29/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 411,355
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.06(d)
Age Range: 10 - 17 Years

About the Author

China Miéville is the author of King Rat; Perdido Street Station, which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award; The Scar, which won the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award; Iron Council, which won the Locus Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; and a collection of short stories, Looking for Jake. He lives and works in London. Un Lun Dun is his first book for younger readers.

Read an Excerpt


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.”

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.”

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Un Lun Dun 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of hose books that can be read over and over again. In fact, it gets better the more you read it. At first I was not sure if I would finish it it was certainly weird, and being introduced to the plot and the concepts of Un Lun Dun for the first time got to me. I stuck with it, thought, and after I reached the interlude, I thought it might have improved. The books gets better as you go on, and though I would not say it is a favorite, I hope the author would write more on the area using the same characters.
specialibrarian on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Deeba Resham is the first runner-up of, her best friend, the Swazzy (chosen one) who gets her mind erased and is left behind when the moil hits the fan.The cast of characters are unusual in this not so subtle, but refreshing, story of enviromental impact. In her quest to defeat the Smog, personified and scenciant cloud of poison, Deeba meets some steadfast friends and wiley foes. As in all hero stories she has her doubts and fears, but a true hero wins in the end. I would have loved this book to have begun after the true Swazzy went back to real London. More judicious editing would have helped make this book shorter and kept the anticipation high. As is, the book tends to build and build, momentum is lost and the reader puts the book down because it just goes on and on and on. For those intrepid enough to plow through all of the chapters to the last 5, the story has a grand climax and denoument.
superblondgirl on LibraryThing 2 days ago
My son and I are reading this aloud right now, and it is amazingly good. If you like fantasy novels, I'd suggest running out and getting a copy right now - Mieville has an imagination that puts most fantasy writers to shame, and the detail put into UnLondon in his book is intense. This is absolutely one of the best kids' books I've read in a long time, and I'm dying to try some of his adult books in hopes that they are half as good as this.
SelimaCat on LibraryThing 2 days ago
22. [Un Lun Dun] by [[China Miéville]]A poor man's [Neverwhere]. I'll admit that I stopped reading after 115 pages. I read several glowing reviews of this, saying it was going to rescue us in this, the time of no-more-harry-potter. And lookee! It has female protagonists! But no. A typical adventure/sci-fi premise: someone from our world gets transported to a different world and must save something/do a quest. a) It is, at least in the first 115 pages, entirely plot-driven. I know nothing about what separates the two main characters from one another--they're both young girls from London, and other than physical differences, they talk alike and seem to think alike. The other characters are defined for you; they do not have characters and backstory, they just are. Sometimes their "properties" and abilities are defined, but that's about it. The 115 pages I read were propelled entirely by one plot point after another. One of the great things about [The Golden Compass] series is that the characters are so rich and familiar--there is love and compassion and yearning--those are what drives the narrative. b) Sadly, I think this book suffers from "sci-fi syndrome". Given that I have no personalities to sink my teeth into, I need to be able to grab onto some part of this world. In many sci-fi books--and this is no exception--the author is so busy cleverly creating new creatures, new worlds, and new vocabularies, that they don't notice they've given readers a whole lot of homework. When a paragraph contains 5-6 made up words describing scenery, characters, or the quest, the reader (me) gets bogged down. I felt like I was slogging through a foreign language. [[Neil Gaimen]]'s [Neverwhere] treads similar territory--London, but not--and does it in a much more character-driven, riveting, terrifying way. If you're looking for an un-London experience, go read that instead.
Phantasma on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Think Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere meets Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth and you've got Un Lun Dun. This book was a fantastic epic adventure. If I said any more, I'd say too much. Very, very good.
marnattij on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Though this book starts out with the intriguing premise of two girls (one of them a "chosen one") finding their way to "UnLondon" where things seems like our own world but just slightly off-kilter, the word play and slow pacing quickly become tiresome.
ohioyalibrarian on LibraryThing 2 days ago
A modern Alice-in-Wonderland in which two girls end up in the "adcity" of Un Lun Dun, where everything is zany. They must fight the "SMOG", a living monster determined to rule both the abcity and it's sister-city, London. The creatures, characters, and plays on words are all extremely inventive. For readers who loved the early Harry Potter books.
extrajoker on LibraryThing 2 days ago
first line (of the prologue): "In an unremarkable room, in a nondescript building, a man sat working on very non-nondescript theories."first line(s) (of the first chapter): "There was no doubt about it: there was a fox behind the climbing frame. And it was watching."From the cover art (somewhat reminiscent of Dave McKean's style) to the back-cover synopsis, I was expecting Un Lun Dun to be something of a Neverwhere For Kids. Indeed, one author blurb states that it should appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker. I agree...mostly because it's like Neverwhere in theory, but reads rather like Abarat. Still, I wouldn't call Mieville's book derivative; it definitely has its own flavor. I love the wordplay (of course), and the fact that it turns the idea of the one chosen hero, destined to save the world as we know it on its head. And Kudos to Mieville for turning an empty milk carton into a sympathetic character, and for creating a believable, effective, and genuinely likeable heroine.
224perweek More than 1 year ago
This was a very difficult book to finish. Kind of a twist between "Alice in Wonderland" and Clive Barker's "Abarat" but not as good as either of them. Way too much going on at once. It was at time difficult to follow. It had some good ideas but became fuzzy in the language and in imagining it in your head.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But jay and Moth would be beter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books i have read. Great book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Again. Great steampunk adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
<3 this book. Kind of aliceish but better written and more info.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you liked Spirited Away, it's a safe bet you'll like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The setting is a bit of an urban Wonderland in this fantastic tale. Both the characters and the plot evolve in unsuspected ways. If you're a fan of Gaiman, Peter Beagle, or Miyuki Miyabe, you'll enjoy this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was one of my favorites and every time I read it I discover something new. This format is nice for retaining the authors original illustrations, which help to tell a large part of the story. I would recomend this book for children as well as adults
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book makes me look at the sun everywhere i go! OUCH!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my absolute favorites. I made all my friends read it, too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago