Un Lun Dun

Un Lun Dun

by China Mieville


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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Endlessly inventive . . . [a] hybrid of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and The Phantom Tollbooth.”—Salon

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.

Praise for Un Lun Dun

“Miéville fills his enthralling fantasy with enough plot twists and wordplay for an entire trilogy, and that is a good thing. A-.”—Entertainment Weekly 

“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. Mieville sits at the table with Lewis Carroll, and Deeba cavorts with another young explorer of topsy-turvy worlds.”The Washington Post Book World 

“Delicious, twisty, ferocious fun . . . 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 Magic for Beginners

“[A] wondrous thrill ride . . . Like the best fantasy authors, [Miéville] fully realizes his imaginary city.” The A.V. Club

“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 Spiderwick Chronicles

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345458445
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/29/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 421,741
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

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Un Lun Dun 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 100 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.
amanderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I tried reading Perdido Street Station a while back, but gave up on it. Too complicated with the fantastical elements, too slow a plot, just too much work. I found this in a Bend used bookstore on vacation and it sounded like Mieville light, so I thought I'd give it a try. I enjoyed it. It's a young adult novel, lots of wordplay and fun with the fantastical elements of Un Lun Dun, an upside down version of London. Kind of reminded me of Lewis Carroll, but without the math. Also fun how Mieville turned the usual conventions of the hero quest upside down. It's still overly, self consciously complicated with the fantasy elements for my taste, and the characters weren't really given a lot of depth, but the plot moved along at a nice clip. It was fun.
Magus_Manders on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's been said before, but I see no reason not to say it again: When a book is labeled as being "for younger readers", that is in no way a prohibition against the more elderly ones. Some of the finest works of fantasy of the last few years have been written with the young adult audience in mind, and it is in these books that the most innovative new ideas are presented.I came across Un Lun Dun mere weeks after I had finished Miéville's most famous work from 2000, Perdido Street Station. As the story of Un Lun Dun gets underway, it seems in many ways to be a New Crobuzon for kids. The magical city of UnLondon, existing kind of parallel but not quite to our more familiar English capital, a strange and marvelous place where the spectacularly outlandish is pedestrian, is in may ways reminiscent of the sprawling steampunk metropolis featured in his earlier books. The bizarre and ever present horror of the antagonist falls in the same vein as the previous work's monstrous villains. Even Miéville's willingness to kill significant characters in a series of disturbing false climaxes creates the effect of tying the two books together.Though it holds some very real similarities to his earlier work, Un Lun Dun does more than enough to stand up on its own as a fantasy novel and a fantastic story for both young and old. The adolescent heroes, drawn from a common schoolyard in London and nearly inexplicably thrown into a strange new world exhibit both the trepidation and panache that young teenagers harbor by the bucketful. The people, critters, and very structure of UnLondon is completely bizarre, but the disparate bits seem to fit together so well that the reader can accept when buses fly and trashcans are trained in ancient mystical martial arts. Even if there were no hero-quest to drive the story along, one could be perfectly content to read about the happenings of a single street corner for a hundred pages. Thankfully, we are given the chance to see much more of this stunning "abcity" as it falls under siege by a beast of its own making in a war that binds together both their and our London under threatening clouds. As mentioned above, Miéville is one of the few fantasy writers I know with the courage to let people die in the immensely dangerous situations that fill this story, and has a knack at teasing us with failure the likes of which we know so well and most storybook heroes know not at all. He also exhibits an excellent working knowledge of the structure of such stories, which allows him to deftly undermine their very workings and twist common motifs into new, real-feeling events and characters. The characterization in Un Lun Dun is relatively simple and the language such that a clever young person (whom I think exist more often than not, if we give them some credit) should have no problem following along. If these are to be seen as flaws, then they are more than made up for by a complex, subversive plot and marvelously strange sights that fill most every page of this hefty and satisfying book. For ever twist you see coming, there's at least one more that will hit you out of left field and leave both the young readers, and the readers who are old enough to know that the young have better taste than they sometimes admit, salivating for more stories of the uncanny UnLondon and its heroes.
lalalibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow! UnLundun (unlondon) is connected to real London and is absorbing all the Smog, but in UnLundun the smog is intelligent and it has an evil plan... Deeba and her friend Zanna are drawn into UnLundun b/c of a prophecy, but then things go completely wrong, but not really. This book was very Wonderland-like and was a bit too clever at times, but overall I really loved the funky setting, the fun plot and everything else. The illustrations were awesome, too!
noblechicken on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Could not get into this though the premise is so tantalizing! Every time I started becoming amused by weird buses and strange entries to other worlds, my realism kicked in. Maybe it it just me, but I just couldn't get into it. This was my first attempt at reading this author. Like the concept, thought the pictures were great, even saw him speak and have an autographed copy, just still haven't finished it.
janeajones on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this children's fantasy mostly set in the alternative Un Lun Dun, where all the discards from London end up and which is peopled with an array of creatures that reminded me of those in The Wizard of Oz.. There's a strong environmental message which resonated particularly with me at this time as we've been experiencing the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Zanna and Deeba, best friends from a property estate in London are magically transported into Un Lun Dun, and Zanna is declared "the Shwazzy" -- the chosen one, chosen to save Un Lun Dun from the smog. But it is Deeba who becomes the heroine of the story.Two things bothered me about this novel. First, I didn't get the function of the Zanna story. She fails to save Un Lun Dun, the two girls are returned home, Zanna remembers nothing, and essentially disappears from the story. It's Deeba, the unchosen one, whose adventures make up most of the novel. OK, the idea that she's unchosen and still succeeds may be intriguing, but the first sections of the book seem extraneous to the rest.Second, and this is English teacher in me -- I don't know why Deeba sometimes lapses into subject/verb disagreement. I know children sometimes speak this way, but it made me shudder every time she said something like "She don't know anything."Quibbles aside, I think most kids (of any age) who like fantasy ala Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz would thoroughly enjoy Un Lun Dun.
AgentBookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked it up read the first page and instantly knew I was going to love it. The charm of London turned inside out, backwards and sideways. It's very original and gives the old 'chosen one' routien a new twist that is perfectly suited to the book.With carniverous gerafis, trash can ninjas, extream librarians and a rather affectionate milk carton this book was a varitable wonderland of strange and wonderful critters and people that made for a wonderful and endeering story of high adventure and friendship.
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of Mieville's work since I discovered Perdido Street Station, but I somehow missed this YA book of his. I ended up just randomly grabbing it, completely on a whim and fell in love. It's a very clever mix of Mieville's steampunk-ish style mixed with young adult themes and real London. I completely loved the book and i hope he writes more YA.
greatsafety on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A treat for fantasy & sci-fic readers. Un Lun Dun is another London coexisting with the one we know. Two young girls find a secret entrance to this strange city and their help, foretold in prophecy, has been anticipated by forces for good & evil. Smog, while apparently under control in our world, is alive and naturally evil with the malvolent intent of killing & taking over both Londons. Clever wordplay, imaginative & zany descriptions, intelligent writing. A fun read.
kougogo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Chaotic and breathtaking - Mieville should write more YA novels. In terms of sheer imaginative force and narrative acceleration, Un Lun Dun could power an entire city.
davros63au on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Acknowledging works that have gone before such as Alice in Wonderland, China Miéville has created an imaginative, updated view through the looking glass. From the opening descriptions of `unberellas¿ through to the martial arts garbage `binjas¿, there is always something unexpected and clever around the corner. I was so enthralled by the world and the story that has been created here I was quite a way into it before picked up the environmental themes which makes this a perfect updating of a classic.
mzonderm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What do you do if you're the Chosen One's sidekick (and, no, we're not talking Buffy this time) but the Chosen One has forgotten that she's Chosen? If you're Deeba Resham, you declare yourself the Unchosen One, save the day anyway, and tell the prophecies to go stuff themselves.When Deeba first goes to UnLondon, she is simply following her friend Zanna, who is the prophesied Chosen One. But it turns out that the prophecies are kind of, well, wrong. When the battle that is foretold to end with Zanna victorious ends instead with Zanna unconscious and returned to London with no memory of UnLondon, Deeba realizes that it's up to her to find a way back to UnLondon to defeat the Smog.So she does, and along the way must convince not only the denizens of UnLondon that even if she's not the Chosen One, she can still be their champion, but she must also convince herself. Combining elements of Alice and Wonderland and Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Mieville gives us quite the no-nonsense heroine.And, as one of her companions asks her, "Where's the skill in being a hero if you were always destined to do it?"
lalawe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I¿ve never read any of Mieville¿s works before. If they¿re all like this book, his first foray into young adult fantasy, however, I¿ve been missing a lot! Deeba and her friend fall into Un Lun Dun - a strange reverse world of London. There they discover that her friend is the Chosen One, prophesied to free the UnLunDuners from the Smog, an sentient evil force. Along the way they meet a talking book, several sentient pieces of garbage, a Black Window, living words (¿Bling¿ being one of them), and various other imaginative and punny creatures.It¿s whimsical while still being scary, and manages to turn all the standard fantasy tropes on their heads while still being a delightful fantasy novel. The worst I can say about it is that I found the main character, Deeba, to be occasionally bratty, and that sometimes the book dragged too much.Overall, a giggly, creepy, imaginative delight.
Bibliotropic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While everyone around me is talking about Mieville's books and how great an author he is, I'm sitting back and hoping that nobody notices me not joining in the conversation, because until picking up Un Lun Dun, I had not read a single one of his books.I'm happy to say that, obviously, this has changed. I don't know if this was the best book for me to start with, but it was one that the library had readily available, and I was curious, so I wasn't going to turn down my chance.While the story at first seems to be shaping up to be a standard "chosen one" prophecy surrounding Zanna, not too far along it's revealed that Zanna's not going to actually be of much help in saving the abcity of UnLondon, and her best friend Deeba steps up to the plate instead, relying not on the vague power of prophecy but instead on her own brains and brawn to get the task done. I loved seeing this, since while it can be fun to read about a very typical destiny plot, stories in which destiny is bunk and the people who do everything are not the people who are supposed to do everything are not as common as they could be, so it was a nice change of pace.Mieville demonstrates a remarkable talent for wordplay and creativity, turning the French choisir into Shwazzy for a somewhat silly term for the chosen one (this is, after all, a book intended for a young adult audience, so a little silliness is perfectly fine), making a group of garbage can martial artists (the binja), or the Black Windows inhabiting Webminster Abbey. There were times where the quick wit and fantastical elements made me think of a ramped-up JK Rowling.One thing that stuck with me throughough the entirety of the novel is the way I pictured the whole thing done in Studio Ghibli style animation. Honestly, I think Un Lun Dun as a movie done by that studio would be amazing to see, and would do the feel of the novel, as well as the plot, the justice it deserves.I can't say for sure whether this was a good first taste of what Mieville can do. I can, however, say that I enjoyed it enough to know that I'll be making a point of giving one of his more adult novels a try in the future. I'd definitely reccommend this one to people who are looking for a good story that doesn't take itself too seriously.
librarymeg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Anyone who's ever read Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth will have some idea of what to expect from this exciting, creative and funny book. It takes place in modern-day London, where two teenagers, Zanna and Deeba, are beginning to notice strange things. When they accidentally end up in a parallel city known as UnLondon, they find out that Zanna is the Shwazzy. She's the chosen one prophesied to defeat the horrible Smog and save UnLondon. But when the Shwazzy's first battle against the Smog ends in defeat, everyone must reconsider the prophecy and the people they had always seen as allies. Deeba, in particular, feels obligated to continue where her friend was unable to succeed. Un Lun Dun is filled with clever puns and plays on words, and each character is more remarkable and exciting than the last. I was particularly taken with Skool, a large voiceless character who wears an old-fashioned deep sea diving suit, Obaday, a tailor who makes clothes from the pages of books and has a pincushion where his hair should be, and Curdle, Deeba's pet milk carton. Yes, a pet milk carton. This may all sound too bizarre to enjoy, but trust me: if you're able to suspend your disbelief long enough, the author will take you on one of the most enjoyable rides you've ever had! I adored this book!
teharhynn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed that this was more than a fairy tale. It was also a social commentary on pollution and the dangers of waste in our society. Mieville world was imaginative, and the main character was not at all what you expected. I'm glad that we chose it for our book club.
Naberius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An avid reader of Mieville's other books, I was delighted when this one was published. Aimed at young adults, it's also a good read for adults. His wordplay sometimes remind me a little of The Phantom Tollbooth -- I think that adults might "get" a little more of what's in here, but it's a great story that can be enjoyed on more than one level. And the illustrations are so cool!
lawral on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of the weirdest (in a good way) books I've read in a long time. UnLondon is a parallel world of sorts. It is whacky and full of MOIL (Mildly Obsolete In London) objects come to life. As such, it influences as London and London influences it. The nearness yet farness of the "real world" is what makes UnLondon so sinester for Deeba. That and the fact that is is reduced to the role of Zanna's sidekick while they're there. And though there is definitely a bad guy (sentient Smog in fact), the sinister feeling is short-lived as Deeba is drawn into her task and drawn to the UnLondoners around her.The attitudes of each world towards the other gave the whole book a feeling very much like that in Corpse Bride - the Upstairs (living) vs. the Dead feeling. Zanna's predestined role in the whole thing, and the way everyone seems to know about it but her, was a lot like when everyone finally gets to Narnia in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. And all the UnLondoners gave the whole thing a distinct Alice vibe (a guy with a birdcage for a head and a fleet of ninja trashbins, just for starters).Also, a glossary of things British people say that American people don't say is included (hence the trashbins). It's hilarious.Overall, this was a really fun read. Really fun.
PghDragonMan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If I had not read Neil Gamin¿s Neverwhere, I would probably be more impressed with Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. The concept was not entirely original and Mieville¿s style is nowhere near as captivating as Gaiman¿s, yet I never felt bogged down in the story. It did not quite captivate me either.Before starting Un Lun Dun, I knew it was targeted at a much younger audience than Perdido Street Station, my previous exposure to Mieville. This work shows the author¿s versatility, yet something was missing from making this a full fledged success.For one thing, I felt the theme was a little too heavy handed for the Juvenile Fiction readers this book seems aimed at. If he had aimed a little higher with his target audience, maybe making the main characters a little more into their teens, he could have created a successful Young Adult novel instead of a mediocre Juvenile Fiction story.Gaiman was light with his geographic puns (Earl¿s Court being a real court of an earl), but Mieville is beating us over the head with a villain named Smog that is made of noxious fumes. The anagrams were too obvious for older readers and the better puns too obscure for the younger readers.Despite this, I was carried along to the story¿s conclusion without the need for forcing myself to stay with it. The book does have a nice flow to it, somewhat like The Phantom Toll Booth, but nowhere near as classic in its appeal.If you are a fan of Mieville, try this to see another side of the author. If you are looking for some light reading that may be interrupted by another book, or sporadic reading between other things, this could be for you. While above average, I would hardly consider this a great read. It is worth trying, though.
bluesalamanders on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Two girls accidentally find their way into an alternate London. Weirdness ensues. And a war.I loved the world described in Un Lun Dun, all the odd creatures and strange ways things functioned. The pacing seemed off, though, and many of the characters (and there were many characters) were flat and forgettable. It was the world that kept me interested in the book much more than the story or the characters.
madmarch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This highly subversive and entertaining children's book turns upside-down the world of children's literature completely. If you are tired of books with cliched plots and unimaginative characters then this is the novel for you. Two young girls, Zanna and Deeba, enter Unlondon, a world of opposites where all the lost things go and embark on a dangerous quest to defeat the evil Smog. The illustrations by the author also add to the book beautifully. A book for those who love originality and imagination.
sweetiegherkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
London schoolchildren Zanna and Deeba start noticing odd things in their daily lives and before they know it, they are sucked in another world known as UnLondon. This world is in many ways similar to their own except it is populated with odd characters and contains an awful lot of moil (objects that are Mostly Obsolete In London, aka rubbish). The girls¿ arrival is heralded by nearly everyone they meet for it turns out Zanna has been prophesied as the Shwazzy ¿ the Chosen One to fight UnLondon¿s biggest nemesis, the Smog. But an unexpected turn of events leaves Deeba as UnLondon¿s unlikely savior. Teaming up with an odd ensemble of UnLondoners, Deeba uses her wit to battle the Smog and its accomplices. The book was a bit slow going in the beginning, but then I got sucked into the highly imaginative world of UnLondon and really started to enjoy the fantastical characters. Also, this book is quite humorous, although you might have to think about some of the jokes (I swear I¿m still missing something with some of the characters¿ names). The American edition comes with a helpful glossary of British-isms. Between the action, adventure, and humor, this book has appeal for older children up to adults. Children will enjoy reading about someone their age being the one to save the day. I also appreciated that the stereotypical blonde heroine ends up out of the picture, making way for the stereotypical minority sidekick to take her place.
HeikeM on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A brilliant introduction into the weird and wonderful with hints of steampunk. A tale of a girl that finds herself with her friend in a different London, UnLondon, where all the broken things of London end up and some people too. Half ghosts, broken umbrellas and binjas (Ninja Bins) - it's a very colourful city. But UnLondon is under threat and awaits a hero to fight the good fight, to free the inhabitants from the sinister Smog. It is bizarre, grotesque, creepy but never too frightening, and of course is written in Mieville's beautiful turn of phrase which he does not amend just because he has written this book for children. It's not a story for the very small ones, I think maybe from the age of 11 or 12 but this book could start your kid on reading books instead of comics (not that comics in anyway bad - I love them). And if you are a grown-up it'll give you lots of enjoyment as well.
krau0098 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got this book through Amazon Vine and was really excited to read it. I have been read some of China Mieville's books before (King Rat and Perido Street Station) and liked them. I thought that Mieville's first young adult book would be a wonderful read.Zanna has been seeing strange things. And when a broken umbrella leads Zanna and her friend Deeba into a boiler room things get really crazy. Zanna and Deeba find themselves in Un Lun Dun; a world more different and dangerous than the London they are familiar with.This book started out as something exciting and special. After the first chapter I turned to my husband and said "this is going to be an awesome book!" Then somehow the book got less gripping and interesting. Really the first third of this book was not all that exciting. The plot seemed to have a purpose and then wandered off. Zanna ended up being a truly uninspiring character. Her inclusion in the book didn't even make sense with the rest of the story.About a third of the way into the book things start to pick up. A plot actually develops and the characters have purpose again. Despite the increase in action and direction I still had to push myself through the rest of the book. It never grabbed me and never kept me in suspense. The characters themselves, although creative, came across as two-dimensional. I was sorely disappointed in a book that I was super excited to like. The chapters in the book are very short, a couple pages each in most cases, and were kind of distracting. They would end abruptly with no reason, just to pick up in the next chapter. Maybe this was part of what made it hard for me to get through this book.The other thing that bothered me was the feeling that this story had been done before. Many aspects to this story are very similar to Clive Barker's Abarat books. Although the tone of this book was a bit darker; and more secluded to the single location of Un Lun Dun. In writing style and setting this book reminded me a lot of Gaiman's Neverwhere. Throw a little bit of Alice in Wonderland into the book and that was the story. The whole time I read this book I kept feeling like I had read this all somewhere before.There were some very good things about this book. The characters are creative, if a bit flat. Many of the side characters and environments in the book are very tongue in cheek and ironic. There were places that I found myself giggling at the absurdity of the characters. For example the dust bin ninjas (binjas) were a favorite of mine. The craziness of Un Lun Dun is thrown at the reader rapidly with many bizarre sights being described in a non-stop parade of strangeness; these parts of the book also appealed to me.I think that this book will appeal to a wide range of ages. In fact it would be a good book to read to children. They will enjoy the bizarre characters and their parents will enjoy the tongue in cheek humor that might be lost on younger kids.Part of the lower review for this book is just the fact that I had trouble enjoying and getting through this book. I also couldn't get past the fact that this book felt a bit like Abarat (Abarat, 1) and Neverwhere had been cobbled together into one read. It's still a good book and if you liked the mentioned books you will probably get some enjoyment from this one. It just didn't hit the mark for me.
lisanicholas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This reads like a cross between Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, with a goodly dollop of eco-anxiety thrown in. I found it just a tad too weird to (want to) follow. I found it in the children's/youth section of a local Barnes & Noble, but although the protagonists are two schoolgirls, I don't think it will really appeal to most children (older adolescents might like it).