Title: Un Lun Dun
Author: China Miéville
Published: 5 Feb 2007
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading Un Lun Dun. All I knew about Miéville was that he was an imaginative and political writer who could be categorised as writing in the New Weird tradition plus this was his first novel for Young Adults. After reading Un Lun Dun I’d say he was all of the above and then some.
Two girls find themselves in an alternative London where London’s lost and broken things end up along with some of the people. The strange this is that the girls are expected and there is a prophecy to fulfil; the Smog is bent on it’s destruction and the city needs a hero.
Mieville has created a unique twisted take on not only London but on the quest novel where nothing quite works out as planned. And the unexpected is one of Miéville’s strengths. He plays with words, conventions, and draws from a very fascinating imagination. I can’t see anyone else making a pack of blood-thirsty giraffes quite so scary or coming up with the same wide-range of unique areas and inhabitants of Un Lun Dun like rock climbing librarians or ghost houses that fade in and out. But cutting through that is the journey that Miéville takes us on.
What at first seems right and proper is in fact quite the opposite and vice versa. It’s not every novel you read when the hero fails and falls at the first hurdle but then continues in un-expected ways. Miéville is really playful with not only the companions of our hero but also how they go about fulfilling that role.
What I liked the most is that it’s a modern fairy tale with slight mix of politics but it doesn’t preach or moralise. Any messages it does have are delivered through the events and the decisions that takes place.
Overall, Miéville’s furtile and playful imagination along with a strong story telling skills has created a modern fairy tale for young adults and adults who love a good story. Though some of the language is quite complex so it might be a challenging read to some less experienced young readers. It’s well worth reading.
There is also a slight door left open to revisit Un Lun Dun again and I hope he does. But in the meantime I’ll be reading more by China Miéville.