Sunday, March 11, 2007

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
Published by Ballantine Books 03/07
Rating : 9
448 pages ISBN: 9780345495167

What happens when your best friend is destined to save a world, but she just has jus been put out of commission?

Un Lun Dun answers that question very well!

China Mieville is best known for his dark gritty fantasy novels for adults that are set in the world of Bas-Lag. (Perdido Street Station, The Scar, & Iron Council. Which if you haven't read & like dark, gritty, weird fantasy, run, don't walk to your local bookstore!) But Un Lun Dun is intended for young adults. But don't let that keep you away from this great novel. Like a lot of other great young adult novels, this one can be enjoyed by any ages.

Zanna & her best friend Deeba live in London, and one day after some weird events find themselves transported (Like any great fantasy story.) to Un Lun Dun. Un Lun Dun is an Abcity, a place where all the lost & broken things in London end up. A lot of things in Un Lun Dun are what the locals call Moily, mildly obsolete in London. It is a place where all the rubbish, old currency & broken umbrellas go.

Un Lun Dun is populated by a number of strange people & creatures. (Much like Mieville's other books.) Giraffe's hunt the streets & attack the unwarry, & old milk cartons make good pets.
Once in Un Lun Dun, Zanna & Deebe find out that Zanna is the "Zhwazzy". THe Zhwazzy is the Chosen one who is prophesied to save both Un Lun Dun & London from the dark, mysterious Smog! But shorty after arriving Zanna is attacked & put out of commission. And can no longer act as the chosen one. Can Deeba pick up where she left off & save the world?

Un Lun Dun touches upon a number themes including environmentalism, class, politics, & destiny. But none of the themes with the exception of environmentalism is heavily forced upon you. (And the environmental messgae is a good one.) One of the things that I liked that it touched upon was Choice. We are who we choose to be, not what a prophesy says we are, or who we have to be. A great message for the younger readers venturing into this novel.

The other great thing in this novel is the way Mieville plays with words. Words literally come to life at times in this story. And Mieville's play on words is so wonderfully subtle, sometimes you won't even catch them. And when you do you be giggling at how he does it. And one other really neat thing is that Mieville supplys a number of black & white sketches that help illustrate this world throughout the book.

Overall this is a beautifully written book, with characters you genuinely care about & want to root for. If you like the young adult books that Neil Gaiman & Clive Barker have done over the last few years, then you will love this book!