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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 1 March 2007
Deeba and Zanna discover a wheel in a basement, Zenna turns it and realizes that something weird is happening - London is being switched off! Zanna and Deeba are two best friends and they find themselves in the world of UnLondon, a place where London's discarded things somehow end up. UnLondon is under siege by the sinister Smog (a poisonous cloud) and is waiting for its saviour to arrive as prophesised by their magic book that can speak. Guided by this book the girls have to try and put an end to the poisonous cloud. A crew of UnLondon locals, the likes of which you will have never dreamed, joins them in their quest! UnLondon is more than a little unusual but an absolute wonder to read about.

If you love Neil Gaiman (especially Neverwhere), Terry Pratchett and Lewis Carroll then this book will be a particular delight for you.
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on 15 April 2013
This book i found to be very good i enjoyed the story from the start its wonderfull. Ill update when i finsh i will be getting more by this aurther thank you leila
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on 23 August 2015
This is a wonderful romp around an alternative London. It has more than a flavour of Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” but China Miéville fully acknowledges this in the section thanking those who helped or inspired this work. This book’s abLondon also contains vast amounts of weird whimsy and plays on words that are entirely original, from Binjas and unbrellas to Smombies.
The tone is lighter than both “Neverwhere” and much of the rest of China Miéville’s works, but it is aimed at a dual adult and young adult audience.
One nice throwway gem is the brief mention of alternative sequel to Miéville’s almost namesake Herman Melville’s book “Bartleby, the Scrivener” apparently entitled “Oh, All Right Then': Bartleby Returns”.
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on 10 March 2008
There are some great ideas in the book - the binjas being my favourite, but it feels like a bit of a mish mash of ideas and characters from other books. Some of the secondary characters feel totally un necessary and just seem to be there to pad the story out a bit. I wasnt wildly impressed with the writing and found the 'init' London dialogue used by the main character Deeba and her friends to be a bit strained and quite false.
The final chapters drag and the climax just goes on way to long. I give it three stars for originality and because the binjas were so cool! If you can borrow this book and have plenty of time then give it a go. If you have to be a bit more selective about your reading then give it a miss!
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on 11 November 2009
I know that this is a horribly over used phrase, but Un Lun Dun really is a `rollercoaster ride' of a book - It's bizarre and weird, funny and clever. And surely only a very talented author like Mieville could make you care about a milk carton?!

A book I'll definitely re-read and recommend to anyone, especially those who, as has been said here, enjoy Gaiman, Carroll etc., although like their work this is truly original.

You'll certainly never look at umbrellas in the same way again
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on 22 June 2011
Un Lun Dun is the first "young adult" offering from one of science-fiction's brightest young writers. The book centers around the adventures of two young girls, Zanna and Deeba, in a surreal parallel London cityscape, and their attempts to thwart the evil "Smog" that dogs their every move.

Un Lun Dun is not a novel concept- that the central premise is a "standard chosen one deal" is explicitly acknowledged in the book itself- and while Mieville does come up with some great new ideas, you can't escape the feeling that he's just bolting his own innovations, however interesting in themselves (MOIL technology, the giraffes), onto an existing model. The parallels with Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere in particular are inescapable- and indeed, Mievielle thanks Gaiman in his acknowledgements as an inspiration. Prehaps because the comparison springs so easily to mind, Mieville's offering is bound to come up short.

But when Un Lun Dun IS taken simply as Neverwhere for the pre-teen crowd, it is rather more successful than might be imagined. The lack of originality is compensated for by Mieville's whimsical puns and illustrations, which bring a touch of Phatom-Tollbooth-esq lightness to an occasionally dark story, and the immediacy of the action and the rapid drive of the narrative are likely to please younger readers. Mieville is as gifted as anyone else when it comes to distilling and subverting the particular "essence" of London and rendering it's fictional twin recognisable and familiar, even as he populates it with the weird and wonderful. He's also unafraid to approach real-world issues through the prism of his creation, the sign of a truly great sci-fi/fantasy writer.

Still, you sense the author isn't entirely comfortable with his younger audience, as is amply demonstrated by the over-reliance on cliched youth patois ("innit"/"dunno"/"not even") in the oddly sparse dialogue. Characterisation in general is a weak point for the book; introductions are brief as Mieville hurries to get Zenna and Deeba into Un Lun Dun itself. Inevitably, it's hard to warm to them, though Deeba is easily the more likeable of the two. Lesser characters are given similarly cursory treatment, flitting in and out of the story before you get the chance to care about them, and I suspect this will cause a lot of younger readers to lose patience.

At the end of the day, Un Lun Dun is certainly good fun. It would serve as a great introduction to this kind of nu-fantasy for a younger reader less well aquainted with the genre. Unfortunately, given the excess of fantasy and sci-fi in the modern young adult market, that's exactely the reader Mieville is unlikely to get. Ultimately, the book's occasional flashes of brilliance and originality can't compensate for it's lack of heart and novelty.
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on 31 August 2010
I wasn't too sure about this book to begin with and it took a while to warm to. But soon I found myself immersed in the world of Un Lun Dun and I was strangely enjoying it. Why did it take me so long? Because it was dark, dirty, grimy but I couldn't deny how imaginative and well written it was. It takes special talent to pull of something this dark and make it so delightful, intriguing and memorable.
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on 17 July 2009
The dark surrealism of Gene Wolfe, the cheeky flippancy of Jack Vance and the clever wordplay of Piers Anthony combine here with a myriad other influences into an overly lengthy but creditably original work.

Miéville proves not to be a natural writer of young adult fiction. I felt distinctly at times that Miéville's first drafts had been written in the wonderful style of 'Perdido Street Station' and only subsequently simplified to make the story more accessible to younger readers. This impression of reconstruction together with an uneven pace and some dodgy dialogue made it a sometimes difficult read.

That said, I'm glad I read it. Much of the imagery (assisted by the author's own pencil illustrations) and humour are memorable and I reckon people between 11 and 16 would find the mix of horror, adventure and other-worldliness highly enjoyable. It's just that, as an adult, I think I'll be much happier when I pick up my third Miéville novel - 'The Scar'.
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on 29 February 2012
Back in 2010 I read my first and thus far only Miéville. I'd only become aware of his writing due to starting to read book blogs, but everyone was highly complementary, so I knew I needed to read some of his work. However, I was also a little intimidated, because Miéville's work was described as very smart and layered and here I was thinking: "What if I don't get it?" Luckily, I did get The City & The City - I think - so I really wanted to read more of his work. And in August last year I got really lucky and won a copy of his book Un Lun Dun in a giveaway on Mel's Random Reviews. It still took me a while to get to it, but once I did I was again swept away by Miéville's fantastic writing and his imaginative creations. In a word, Un Lun Dun was amazing!

Un Lun Dun is a YA book and as such perhaps far more accessible than say Miéville's Embassytown (which, for the record, I haven't read) and I totally adored this book and his UnLondon. The book was just so much fun. UnLondon is a wonderful creation, which has some clear echo's of the London we know and love, but also is a place totally its own. The Ghosts have their own Quarter and are peopled with those who can't move on, but also don't have a place in the world above any more. This wonderful world of moily houses and discarded appliances which pop up randomly in the street is populated by some amazing creatures, such as binja's, the Black Windows, Unbrella's and the rebrella's. They are not just described in a wonderful fashion, they are also included as illustrations drawn by Miéville himself, which makes them even more fun.

Un Lun Dun is not just an example of great, imaginative world building, but also of fantastic playing with language. Miéville plays with words in so many ways, whether it is by punning, by creating onomatopoeic representations of regular words, such as The Schwazzy and the klinneract, or by creating words or names with double meanings, such as Brokkenbroll, the master of the Unbrella's or the broken brollies. It was a joy to try and identify these words and every time I got one I felt full of triumph, though this task might be easier for native speakers!

The fact that Deeba was the UnChosen, which of course makes far more sense for UNLondon, is not just a word joke - which I really liked - but also part of a larger phenomenon in Un Lun Dun--the subverting of traditional tropes. I loved how Miéville played with the tropes of the genre, sometimes seemingly following them and at others just turning them on their head. For example, the prophecy, which turns out to be incorrect and the quest for the UnGun, setting us up for a classic 'following the predetermined path to gain the needed McGuffin in seven easy steps' which Deeba decides to cut short pretty brutally. Un Lun Dun is also pretty scary and Miéville doesn't keep back from killing off characters, the loss of some of which left me a little teary.

You can see where Miéville draws inspiration from Gaiman - something which the author acknowledges in his afterword - and it wouldn't have helped that I read Neverwhere in the days prior to starting Un Lun Dun. But even though the influence is clear, Un Lun Dun is its own story and completely Miéville. Un Lun Dun is a fantastic story, which while it's classed YA, is also suitable to the more mature MG reader, however parents might want to check beforehand whether they think their child is ready for the book. In any case Un Lun Dun is not just must read Miéville, but also must read YA fantasy.
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on 17 July 2013
This book started out fairly promisingly but the plot soon fizzled out to be swamped by surreal imagery and an unrealistic alternative London. Some of China Mieville's ideas are startlingly imaginative, but they all seemed a bit pointless. I persevered till about half way through and then abandoned it - I couldn't get interested in what happened next. A fanciful, stylised Steampunk sort of book, it stimulates the imagination and it will I am sure sell well among his many followers, but it's just not my style.
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