Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Un Lun Dun

Mieville, China. Un Lun Dun. New York: Del Rey; Paperback edition, 2008.
[Book cover credit:

"You're..." he whispered slowly, "in... Un Lun Dun."
The girls waited for the words to make sense, but they didn't. Hemi was grinning. "Un Lun Dun!" he repeated.
"Un," said Zanna. "Lun. Dun."
"Yeah," he said. "Un Lun Dun."
And suddenly the three sounds fell into a different shape, and Zanna said the name.
"UnLondon?" Deeba said.
Hemi nodded, and crept an inch closer.
"UnLondon," he said, and he reached for Zanna.
p. 39

Zanna and Deeba are lost in a world that kind of appeared in a basement. A world that has been stalking Zanna as of late. A world that they can't seem to get out of. All Deeba wants to do is go home, but Zanna is there for a reason. She's there to save them all.

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. If it didn't require getting special permission, I would highly recommend it for the Alice in Wonderland Challenge.

Book Source: Philly Free Library

1 comment:

GeraniumCat said...

I have this on my TBR pile, and I'm really looking forward to it. Have you read Jeanette Winterson's Tanglewreck? I think this is going to be a bit similar, perhaps, so it will be interesting to see how Mieville handles it. It seems to be popular territory at the moment: Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher is also set in a "different" London.