Un Lun Dun
By China Miéville
Del Rey Books
Cute — describing Un Lun Dun in one word. Cute would fit but it probably wouldn’t suffice. While there were so many things in this book that I loved (Curdle the milk carton for instance) there was even so much more to sink into that I feel I’m almost at a loss to write this review because I want to share absolutely everything which would ruin it so I will try for some restraint but I won’t promise it completely.
Deeba is the best friend of Zanna and as it turns out Zanna is supposed to save UnLondon but she doesn’t know it yet. You see, Zanna is the Schwazzy, the savior of UnLondon and when strange things begin to happen to her, she investigates and her curiosity leads her to, you guessed it, UnLondon with Deeba tagging along. Deeba, well, all she wants to do is get home and when she and Zanna are finally returned to their London, all she can do is think of UnLondon and how she can get back there. Determined to help now that Zanna “the Schwazzy” can’t, she finds a way to not only find UnLondon, but also to save it — or at least she hopes to.
Miéville has an acute refined ability to take something so simple, the world we live in for example, and turn it around so it becomes something almost unrecognizable. I say almost because he lets us glimpse the unusual but then pulls it back just far enough so we start to wonder what he’s really after. Is that another world I just saw, or I am dreaming, fallen into a mental state, or maybe, just maybe that world is out there, waiting…waiting for the right time and place to show itself. In Un Lun Dun, he does that along with taking the everyday mundane (umbrellas and milk cartons) and making them the most spectacular of characters. Yes, characters. He takes a milk carton living in UnLondon and gives it the personality of a lap dog that only wants to be loved and trot around about your heels. He elevates umbrellas from simple rain protection to ultimate smog repellant then transforms them into a rebrella that will help to defeat evil. It’s this ability to take the everyday and take it to the unbelievable that keeps me reading and coming back for more.
The City and the City was my first Miéville book and I was hooked from page one. Kraken was an absolute treat and I couldn’t wait to find out what treasure was hidden in Un Lun Dun. I can say it was absolutely full of gems and I honestly can’t wait to get my hands on more of his writing. For the curious, he has a new book out, Embassytown, which takes place on an alien planet. Ask me if I’m buying that one. Yes, the answer is yes.
If you haven’t read any Miéville, one, start, and two, start with Un Lun Dun. It’s fun, cute if you’ll indulge me, but also a way to meet a writer that will take you places you never imagined possible within the confines of the page. It may be considered young adult, and completely different than his other books but that’s something to love about his writing — incredible diversity.