Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Mieville (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, is the 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.
Mieville 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] dark, charming, robust, comical adventure played according to new rules." VOYA
"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." Library Journal
"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
"Many young readers will no doubt find the adventure compelling....In a way, the novel feels like a screenplay, ready to have its delightful ideas translated to the purely visual." Philadelphia Inquirer
"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
"Un Lun Dun
doesn't have the breathless otherness and depth of Perdido Street Station
, but it isn't intended to....Un Lun Dun
is a nice little morsel that makes a great chaser after a dense nonfiction book, and is a good recommendation for someone who has already read Philip Pullman's fabulous His Dark Materials
series (and those books about the boy wizard)." Doug Brown, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
Un Lun Dun is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things end up — including people. When 12-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance into this strange city, it seems that an ancient prophecy is coming true. Illustrations.
About the Author
China Mieville 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.