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Un Lun Dun

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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  11,537 ratings  ·  1,343 reviews
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from China Mieville’s Embassytown.

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 eno
...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published February 13th 2007 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nataliya
If (for whatever strange reason) you ever wondered what a love child of "Alice in Wonderland" and Gaiman's "Neverwhere" would look like if it were raised by the Master of Weird - well, say hello to Un Lun Dun.
'I know you're not a sidekick.'
'No one is!' Deeba shouted. 'That's no way to talk about anyone! To say they're just hangers-on to someone more important.
'
This is an ode to all the sidekicks out there, those who were 'destined' to be on the sidelines, to be the 'funny one' or 'brainy one' o
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Stephen
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Let me begin this sadly negative review by saying that I think China Mieville is one of the BEST writers working today. To put it simply…he is THE MAN!! Unfortunately, and it pains me to say, he is THE MAN in this case that wrote a really shitty book. It happens to the best of artists at some point in their career. Al Pacino did Author, Author, Steven Spielberg did Always and even Will Ferrell did Bewitched. Well, I must report that this is Mr. Mieville’s Ishtar, sans Dustin Hoffman and Warren
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Joel
For the second book in a row, China Miéville's writing has reminded me of nothing so much as one of Stefon's drug-fueled gay fantasies:


UnLondon's hottest club is Smog. This place has everything: naked ghosts, balloon zombies, sentient pollution, buses with lizard feet, spider windows, ninja R2D2s. You know that thing where a trash can has been trained in the martial arts?

---

This year it was my goal to read 100 books. Which I have accomplished with several weeks to spare!

Number one, read in Janua
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mark monday
from English* to Tagalog to Hungarian to Esperanto to Chinese... and back to English again!

It is quite a challenge in front of me, I also played its ideas. Children's Literature in the tradition of Alice in Wonderland, but not for me. I do not usually a fan of fun and good times and random stupidity, I'm not really a fan of word games. I like the rules and logic of literature and children's literature is no exception. Almost stimulate me whiny, uninteresting characters. It really grated. But the
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Tony
I hated this book to start with, which is to say the first third or so. However, since I was reading it for work, I stuck with it, and finally came around to the novel.

My specific gripes with the first third are that it's clichéd, the characters lack distinction, and it falls into the classic sci-fi/fantasy trap of deluging the readers with unfamiliar and hard to describe details, thereby alienating them from the workings of plot and character. Instead of coming off as unique and charming, inst
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Catie
Wow. How do I describe this book? It’s on the one hand a bit of an ode to all of the quest based, parallel world containing fantasies that have come before: The Wizard of Oz, Narnia, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, most of Neil Gaiman’s catalogue, hell even Harry Potter. On the other hand, it undermines the typical tenets of these books in a way that’s a bit of a fuck you to the whole genre. It also manages to transcend both of these things and become a decent quest based, parallel world cont ...more
Jonathan Peto
As I came to the end of Un Lun Dun, I decided that one of my New Year’s resolutions should be to make this story into a script for an animation movie. Maybe I'll Google it and see if anyone owns the rights. It would be a lot of fun, I think, to pare this novel's fantastical events, curious assortment of characters, and diverse settings into a two-hour movie. Not that I'm a movie-maker, I'm just saying there would be a lot to work with.

The story is a wonderful adventure written for children and a
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Robert
I am not sure what to make of this book or its author.
Considerable time is spent attacking cliches of the fantasy genre, yet Mieville's Unlondon is acknowledged as derivative of Gaiman's Neverwhere. Isn't being obviously derivative of your predecessors both a cliche and the worst crime of the fantasy genre? (I give credit for open admission of the debt, though.)

One of the cliches attacked is that of the the Protagonist with a Heroic Destiny (PHD). Fairy Nuff, but you can see the attack coming fr
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Michael
The thing I DON'T like about reviewing books from my very favorite authors is that I always find myself praising the same things like a broken record. So, by the time I'm writing a fourth review for an author, I barely talk about the book at all, and instead keep myself entertained by writing something ridiculous. (See my review of Blood Meridian, which I would link to if I weren't technologically handicapped.)

So let's get the boring part out of the way right now: in this book, Mieville is ever
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Michael
When I started this book, I thought to myself "oh lord, I hope this isn't another _Neverwhere_". I liked Gaiman's novel just fine, but I had in my hand ANOTHER urban fantasy, with a Dave McKean-esque cover, and I didn't think that I could handle it.

Kudos to Mieville for taking my worries and drop-kicking them into the ocean.

There's so much to like about this novel. The protagonist isn't who it seems at first. The level of imagination is astounding (quirky, gentle, but with a definite Mieville fl
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Trin
A sort of kiddie Neverwhere (and Miéville does indeed credit Neil Gaiman in the intro), this is one of those books that’s packed with cleverness—and really, really aware of it. I like some of Miéville’s attempts to turn the typical quest-y fantasy on its ear—The Chosen One turns out to be fairly useless! The “tasks” one must complete to defeat the bad guy are highly skippable!—but UnLondon never felt like a real place to me, or its denizens real people. I’m still really not sure who Deeba was ...more
Chris
I don't know what I expected when I picked this up for a group read, but it certainly wasn't what I got. This was like a blending of different things. Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (which the author admitted to having inspired him) for its setting in an alternate London hidden from the regular one. Rowling's Harry Potter for the whole way the London children are discovering this world within our world, full of magic and wonder, as well as a double decker bus that has unusual properties. There was als ...more
Susan
May 15, 2007 Susan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: YA readers looking for sci-fi
Shelves: ya
A poor man's Neverwhere. I'll admit that I stopped reading after 115 pages.

I read several glowing reviews of this, saying it was going to rescue us in this, the time of no-more-harry-potter. And lookee! It has female protagonists! But no. A typical adventure/sci-fi premise: someone from our world gets transported to a different world and must save something/do a quest.
a) It is, at least in the first 115 pages, entirely plot-driven. I know nothing about what separates the two main characters fr
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Amber
What do you get if you cross one of Hyao Miyazaki's animated films with Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, the imagination of Clive Barker, and Alice in Wonderland? You get this book: Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. When young friends Zanna and Deeba follow a broken umbrella down to a sewer with a steering wheel, they turn it and enter the world of Un Lun Dun. Un Lun Dun (or UnLondon) is an urban wonderland where things that are thrown away in regular london are found and given a new purpose there. Upon en ...more
Terence
I wasn't sure whether or not to give this book a 3 or a 4 (if we had a more refined rating system, I'd give it a 3.7/3.8) because it started out a bit slow but as soon as Mieville focused on Deeba, the story picked up its pace and became much more interesting.

Short plot outline (which doesn't contain spoilers): Like many young-adult & adult fantasies, there's another version of London (and the world) that exists just "around the corner" or in between the stacks in a library that it's sometim
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Chris
A young girl in London is visited by strange people who seem to know her. They call her the Schwazzy and mysterious graffiti seems to imply that young Zannah is a mysterious savior-in-waiting. There's a mysterious world, unknown to most people, and only she can save them!

This is pretty much how the book begins. At this point, I found myself thinking, "How long will it be before people can read something like this without thinking of Harry Potter?" I mean, the whole displaced child-messiah thing
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J.P.
If there was an award given for most imagination used in a novel, China Miéville would have more trophies than he would know what to do with.
The man really outdoes himself in this one as he introduces a multitude of fascinating characters who are to say the least rather unusual. A man with a bird in a cage for a head, no-nonsense garbage cans wielding nunchucks appropriately called binjas, and the creepy black windows of Webminster Abbey, just to name a few.
The comparison to Alice in Wonderland
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The Flooze
*3.5*

Miéville’s creation of an alternate London existing just beyond a veil is not unique. We’ve seen many similar places across the urban fantasy landscape - the most frequent comparison being Gaiman’s Neverwhere - where ideas, people, and things cross from side to side, each location influencing the trajectory of the other. When dealing with this trope, it’s not the generalizations that are important but the details: Do we believe this place exists? Do we care about the residents? Do we wish w
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Nikki
Un Lun Dun, by China Miéville, is about the underside of London. The forgotten parts. So far, so very Neverwhere, I thought, at first. But actually, Un Lun Dun is a different kind of book. Cleverer, in that it twists fantasy clichés ("the UnChosen one" being the biggest example), quirkier (I didn't see a living milk carton called Curdle, or living ninja bins, binja, in Neverwhere!), and lighter. It's definitely aimed at younger people, and actually, I think China Miéville does a good job of it. ...more
Arielle Walker
3.75 stars

My first introduction to Miéville's writing was Railsea. I had an almost instant reaction to it (confusion, frustration, amazement) that only grew stronger as the story progressed (and changed into shock, awe and adoration, and finished with the literary equivalent of being hit on the head with a shovel). Un Lun Dun disappointed me for the supremely unfair (on my behalf) reason that it didn't draw much of a reaction from me.

I think that where YA and children's books are concerned, ther
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colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
(Maybe more sort of 2.5)

I was excited about the premise of this story. I like 'Wonderland' type stories, especially Gaiman's Neverwhere, which Mieville does specifically mention as being an influence. But this story never really got above "alright" for me.

Part of the problem was that I never really clicked with or cared that much about the characters. I liked the role of Deeba at first - the friend who reluctantly gets dragged into an adventure - but I never really clicked with her as a person.
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Robert Beveridge
China Mieville, Un Lun Dun (Ballantine, 2007)

I have written many times (more than I can count, certainly) about the dangers of message fiction. Chief among them is that the author gets so wrapped up in the message that he forgets he's first and foremost supposed to tell a story. When I realized that Un Lun Dun, China Mieville's first childrens' book, was of the “message fiction” stripe, I quailed in despair, thinking I might have encountered my first Mieville book (and I've read 'em all) I wasn'
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Gwaxa
One had to marvel at the limit of China Mieville's imagination.

Ever wondered what happened to the sidekick when the hero is not around? Well, read this and you'll find out. (view spoiler)

"No one is!" Deeba shouted. "That's no way to talk about anyone! To say they're just hangers-on to someone more important."

"UN-CHOSEN ONE ROOLZ!

"Yeah, but where's the skill in being a hero if you ere always destined to do it? said
...more
Ross Lockhart
Un Lun Dun is the sort of book that promises the staying power of a classic. Though intended for young readers, Un Lun Dun can be enjoyed by adults as well, and Miéville does an excellent job of setting up, and then thwarting, the clichés and expectations inherent in YA quest motifs, from the idea of a “chosen one” to the intricacies of the quests themselves. At times, Un Lun Dun is reminiscent of the linguistically-playful tone of Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth or Madeline L’Engle’s A Wr ...more
Dorian
I wasn't really expecting to like this, having greatly disliked the same author's "Perdido Street Station". But I thought I'd give it a go, in the hope that his writing for children would be better than his writing for adults. And because I am very fond of alternate-world versions of real places as story settings. And, as it turned out, I was pleasantly surprised.

After some slightly odd experiences, Zanna and Deeba travel semi-accidentally to UnLondon, where they discover, first, that it is unde
...more
Michelle {Book Hangovers}
Absolutely breath taking! What a fun read! I was on an adventure, in another world the whole time! I could definitely read this book again and again! Unforgettable characters that i will fall asleep thinking of and hopefully dreaming about!! A must read!!! Mieville is now on my favorite authors lists as well as this book being on my favorite books list.
Megan Baxter
What is it about London that makes it the prime place to create another world, not hidden in the shadows, but accessible through secret passageways that tend to close tight behind those who stumble in? Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere jumps to mind, which China Mieville (I don't know how to do the accents!) credits as an inspiration, and now Un Lun Dun.

Although I guess the other example that I can think of, J. Michael Straczynski's Midnight Nation, is set in the States. Never mind. And in this book, UnL
...more
Meliza
A friend and I were asked to moderate for our book club’s monthly discussion this June. We considered sci-fi as the theme but while looking for possible books selection, we bumped into this new genre, the New Weird. Due to curiosity and reading good reviews about this genre, we chose it as our monthly book theme. And because we are also kinda weird (haha!), the books we picked are all written by China Miéville, who is one of the most well-known authors of Weird Fiction. This is one of those book ...more
Althea Ann
I was a little worried by the fact that Mieville's latest is a foray into "children's" fiction, but I needn't have. This is an excellent book, and destined to be a classic of young people's fiction. It really is that good.
It does owe a definite debt (acknowledged) to Neil Gaiman's 'Neverwhere' - and it also reminded me of The Phantom Tollbooth (which comparison I am not positive is completely relevant, since I haven't read that since I was a kid) - but I got a similar feeling from it.

Pretty, blo
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Sandi
It's taken me a long time to get around to reviewing this book. It took me a long time to finish reading this book. I often see Un Lun Dun classified as a young adult novel. If you go by length, it is. However, the content seemed to me made it a children's book. Now, I missed reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a child and just read them recently, in my mid-forties. I didn't like either one. Un Lun Dun is very much like these t ...more
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A British "fantastic fiction" writer. He is fond of describing his work as "weird fiction" (after early 20th century pulp and horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft), and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird who consciously attempt to move fantasy away from commercial, genre clichés of Tolkien epigons. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist W ...more
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Perdido Street Station (Bas-Lag, #1) The City & the City The Scar (Bas-Lag, #2) Embassytown Kraken

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“The dead are way more organized than the living.” 73 likes
“My dad hates umbrellas, said Deeba, swinging her own. When it rains he always says the same thing. 'I do not believe the presence of moisture in the air is sufficient reason to overturn society's usual sensible taboo against wielding spiked clubs at eye level.” 66 likes
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