Peter's Reviews > Un Lun Dun

Un Lun Dun by China Miéville
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's review
Dec 16, 2015

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, middle-grade, steam-punk, london, read-2012
Read in January, 2012

This is the first China Mieville book I have read. It is a YA fantasy story where Deeba, a teenage girl, and her best friend Zanna stumble into Un Lun Dun – a surreal version of London. They are tasked with ridding both cities of the evil Smog - a personification of an environmental disaster. To do this they must gather a gang of trusted friends together; solve a few tasks and collect some magical weapons. Along the way there are twists and betrayals. The usual Quest story basically.

The story and the world reminded me of both Alice and The Phantom Tollbooth. The child hero Deeba I found kind of drab, her only character trait seemed to be that she slips into Cockney every now and then. The Un Lun Dun'ers are more interesting, surreal and imaginative characters that seem to have escaped from a stop motion animated movie. In fact, I can imagine the story working well in that format. Especially when it's distilled, because as it is it seems like there's a little too much going on. I find it hard to judge the length of books on Kindle but I would hazard that its a little longer than other children's quest stories, because I started to feel there were a few too many tasks and characters to be got through before we reached the final battle. Sometimes complex stuff or the chance for character development seems rather glossed over in favour of more surreal action, which meant I thought that the book has less heart than it could, and although I liked the characters I didn't really massively care about any of them.
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