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Un Lun Dun

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  17,946 ratings  ·  1,914 reviews
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 enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. Un Lun Dun is a
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published February 13th 2007 by Del Rey
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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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

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 War
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
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
One star off for making this too long Mr Mielville. Towards the end I felt tired and just wanted it to finish despite the fact that I did enjoy the book. The best books are the ones that finish and leave you wanting more. This did not do that! In many ways I was reminded of reading The Golden Compass which meandered along from one danger to another in similar fashion to the point where danger became tedious instead of suspenseful.
Anyway enough of what I did not like and more about what I did. I
Megan Baxter
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Nandakishore Mridula
Warning: mild spoilers

When it comes to creating weird worlds, there is none to beat China Mieville.

One only has to look at Perdido Street Station, where weird beings from various mythologies join together in a strange world to create a socially incendiary cocktail. However, that novel was rather thin on story, and none of the characters were actually likeable. But in this book, which is meant for young readers, Mieville has overcome the failing on the story front: it contains a story rattling al
Dec 18, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Sep 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011, ya, fantasy
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
Ms. Smartarse
Zanna is a slightly above-average teenager: above-average in height, attractiveness, intelligence and even in all-around popularity. As a matter of fact, her only claim to originality is settling on a rather odd choice for a nickname: Zanna being short for Susanna.
Nothing to get excited about, until of course there suddenly is: random people start to treat her like a celebrity, and animals follow her around. Except for cats, the snooty buggers!

snooty kitty

Even so, Zanna and her friends generally write the
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A year late review but my impressions didn't fade, that is why this books is on my favorites shelf.I read Mieville's book recently, and ended thinking about his other works and decided to write something about this book too.Of course one might argue that I am doing it only because if I didn't I would be cleaning house, getting ready for work and other adult stuff I avoid doing.Yeah I suck at being adult.

If you haven't read Mieville's books before I would describe Un Lun Dun as Alice in Neverwher
Paul Sánchez Keighley
This is a hard book to rate. I hadn’t read a children’s book in a long time and most of the listlessness I felt while reading this one was due to the dumbed down language and on-the-nose exposition. Still, had I read this when I was 12, I probably would have thought it is the best thing ever.

As whimsy followed whimsy, I kept having this nagging feeling that UnLondon needing better defining. So eventually I found a formula that, in my mind, helped explain the abcity’s (un)logic. For every un-X I’
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
Plus: It's China Mieville, of course it's weird. Chimeric monsters and all that jazz. The subverted trope and the wordplay galore were utterly, absolutely delightful.

Minus: The book could shed, some, I dunno, two hundred pages? It takes almost 100 pages for the plot to move from the start, then some chapters could be tighter. I was really impatient to get to the end.
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loves Hyao Miyazaki, Clive Barker's Thief of Always and fantasy fans
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
I totally enjoyed this story! I liked central character Deeba Resham a lot, and how well she handled herself when interacting with all the weird and really wonderful people and creatures she encountered in unLondon.
Though a little draggy in a few parts, I enjoyed the plot, and the sheer fun of the names of creatures and people, and the many differences between our reality and that of unLondon, and how our reality seeps into theirs.
(view spoiler)
May 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Lars Dradrach
Dec 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
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 sometimes p
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
This was great! A gritty, Pratchetty, deceptive, in control Dorothy type fairy tale with a satisfying end. Only my second Miéville but I want to read everything he's written right now. Review to come ...more
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
(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.
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'
Apr 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
China Miéville
Un Lun Dun
Del Rey
470 pages

In "Un Lun Dun"'s acknowledgment page, Miéville specifically thanks Neil Gaiman for "generous encouragement and for his indispensable contributions to London phantasmagoria, especially "Neverwhere". "Un Lun Dun"'s resemblance with "Neverwhere" is undeniable. Both take place in the hidden City of Adventure of London, with a fascinating worldbuilding and obscure creatures. I haven't read the whole "Neverwhere"--I first borrowed it from my friend back whe
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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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“The dead are way more organized than the living.” 81 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.” 79 likes
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