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Un Lun Dun Hardcover – February 13, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Hardcover, February 13, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5–9—In present-day London, strange things start happening around Zanna: dogs stop to stare at her, birds circle her head. Then, she and her friend Deeba find themselves in an alternate reality where obsolete objects such as old typewriters eventually "seep" and strange people and creatures dwell, including sentient "unbrellas." The girls learn that Zanna is the chosen one, the "shwazzy," of UnLondon. However, her first fight with the nefarious Smog isn't what was predicted in the book of prophecies. The girls soon end up back in London with Zanna unable to recall their time away. Alone in the memory, Deeba pieces together the Smog's plot and finds a way back to UnLondon via library stacks. Readers soon realize that sometimes the chosen one doesn't get to save a city, and that sometimes steps in a preordained quest don't come out as planned. Miéville's fantastical city is vivid and splendidly crafted. Who would have thought a milk carton could make such an endearing pet? Or that words, or utterlings, could have a life and form of their own? Fans of Neil Gaiman's Coraline (HarperCollins, 2002) or Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth (Knopf, 1961) will love this novel. The story is exceptional and the action moves along at a quick pace. Given that the girls are 12, older readers might be put off, but it is well worth selling to them.—Nancy Kunz, Tuckahoe Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Award-winning author China Miéville (King Rat; Perdido Street Station; The Scar; Iron Council, HHHH Jan/Feb 2005) claims that he meant Un Lun Dun for younger readers, but, like the Harry Potterseries, the novel will appeal to a wide range of ages. While it includes the basics of the genre—magic, monsters, quests, heroes—it breaks the mold in many ways. An urban adventure with a strong environmental message, the novel harkens back to London's Great Smog of 1952, which bridges the real and the fantastical. Miéville's playful, clever language and plot, reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's, also impressed most critics, though a few thought them contrived and tedious. "Finding it as a grown-up may not be the optimum way to stumble into UnLondon," concludes Salon, "but it's pretty miraculous all the same."
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; First Edition edition (February 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345495160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345495167
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,516,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ian Mccullough on February 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
On my son's tenth birthday he will get this book. This will happen in a little over seven years from now.

Mieville has ventured into YA fiction with Un Lun Dun and it is a tremendous accomplishment within the genre. This is the story of a journey to another London that exists near the one we are familiar with. But things are different and there are some big problems for the two young ladies who find themselves in Un Lun Dun. Mieville's hallmark - imaginative monsters - is here and they exist in wonderful, fanciful piles. His punning creations are groan-worthy and painted a number of rueful smiles on my face. Mieville wants readers to have the joy of surprise, so I'm keeping quite about the details. But I guarantee you will never think of giraffes the same way ever again. There are also marvelous characters and companions, all vivid and memorable.

Un Lun Dun subverts your typical fantasy formula. The chosen one doesn't seem to be getting it done, prophecies are falling apart, and quests are veering outside of expectations. Mieville has been both lauded and slammed for being a "message" author. The message for youngsters is pretty straightforward - don't wait to be saved by the hero, question authority, try hard, and with the help of good friends and you can change things for the better.

Mieville has to this date been a very adult writer but he reigns in both the violence and the vocabulary to truly make this a YA title. There is violence and danger, but it is not excessive. He does keep the sense of excitement through the book and the pacing is very brisk. Un Lun Dun is not a departure for Mieville; he is just doing for young adult fantasy what he has already done for regular fantasy. He has given us a smart, non-formulaic, but always entertaining book.
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Format: Hardcover
A great many YA novels attempt a modicum of maturity but fall far short and end up being what would appropriately be termed children's literature. The level of condescension present in many of them is almost offensive, suggesting that young adults cannot be subtle nor intuitive readers. Mieville takes a remarkable stand against this trend and delivers a novel that is enchanting and challenging to multiple levels of readers. His language is beautiful, challenging, and most importantly playful.

As with most of his novels, the setting of ULD is as much a character as is Deeba or any of her party. The inhabitants of the abcity Unlundun are rich in character and are conjured from the simplest of ideas into unforgettable characters--a conscious milk carton most of all. Mieville paints a city whose denizens force the readers to reconsider our lives: fated observer or willful participant? This is not a comfortable book to read, and readers will find themselves pausing frequently to compare their own cities with Mieville's abcities.

The social and political commentary is subtle yet insistent. Young readers with a growing awareness of social and political ideologies would benefit from reading this novel with careful consideration of the historical context. Mieville's own leftist political ideologies are not overt, but they do beg themselves to be considered in light of the turmoil in Unlundun, a turmoil not unlike what is developing (or is peaking) in our own world.

Subversion is a central theme, and Mieville does a masterful job of not only refusing to bow to the templates of the genre but of creating an entirely new one: heroes aren't heroic; prophecies aren't prophetic; and words aren't our own.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a Londonophile--no, I'm not even certain that's a word, but it describes the feeling: a deep and abiding love of the city of London, which, since I don't live there, often manifests itself in my frequent devouring of books and movies that are set in, and especially celebrate, London. I'm especially fond of the subgenre of fiction "urban fantasy"--outrageous and fantastic events and characters set against the familiar backdrop of the Big Smoke, situations and events that illuminate our ordinary everyday world with a magical light. Among my favorite almost-otherworldly Londons: J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Philip Pullman's "The Ruby in the Smoke," G. P. Taylor's ""Wormwood" and (an obvious but oft-overlooked choice in the genre) Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol." Recently I've added China Miéville's wonderful, moody and spooky "King Rat" and "Perdido Street Station" to my library, and was delighted to discover he has also written "Un Lun Dun," a wonderfully nuanced and shadowy young adult novel that celebrates the joy and diversity of the city on the Thames.Read more ›
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