Zanna and Deeba are two ordinary school girls who live next to each other. One day they see something weird outside Deeba’s house during a sleepover and they follow it into a building (much to the dismay of Deeba). When they exited the building, they were no longer in London…
Nothing was what it seemed. Rubbish would chase them, they could see people (if you can call them that) with cushions for heads with pins sticking out of it, water and fish inside a diving suit that could walk around on land and everything weird imaginable (and not) were all around them.
As the girls try to find a way back to London, Zanna shows her 'travel card' and is greeted with awe and joy.
'UnLondon is at war. We’re under attack. And it’s been written, for centuries, that you – you – will come and save us.'
Un Lun Dun is the first book China Miéville has written for children. His previous books The Rat King, The Scar have all had great reviews and praise for his work but it is his book Perdido Street Station that has put him up on a pedestal and changed many minds on how the fantasy genre can be written. So I was excited to read this book of his.
Un Lun Dun is about two girls who get magically transported to the world of UnLondon where they are very confused and only want to go home. The world is full of strange creatures and nothing is what it seems. They soon find out that UnLondon has been under attack by the ‘Smog’ and that once the Smog has had its way with UnLondon, London will be next. Zanna and Deeba also find out that Zanna is the Chosen one, the one that will save them from the Smog and so is greeted by smiling friendly faces…well except for the Smog and his minions who try and dispatch of her before she fulfills her destiny!
Miéville does an excellent job of making up the world of UnLondon. Things are so creative, so strange that you have no idea how he came up with it. Rubbish Bin bodyguards, flying buses and talking prophetic books are just a few things from his strange world. The story starts off a little slowly, which can be a bit of a detractor especially with the younger generation, but really picks up a fifth of the way in and it’s all on. One of Mieville’s strong points is his ability to word play. Making up words to fool you yet has a deeper meaning as part of the story. Character names are something sneakily amazing.
However, the thing about Mieville and I’ve also noticed this in his book Perdido Street Station is the lack of interest you feel for the main character. The Storyline is great and the action is great but you just don’t care for the character. More often than not, it is the supporting characters you want to know about more because they simply feel more interesting.
All in all, this was a good book to read. I think children will enjoy it because they can relate to the children in the book; the chapters are short so attention spans won't go flying out the window and therefore they also make good chapter books to read to your children as bed time stories.
I'll definitely be reading this book to my classroom of 10 year olds!
"The Matrix meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." - Sleeping with Books
p.s. This Month is YA month for me. I've read quite a few YA books recently and look forward to posting them.