Wednesday, October 19, 2011

REVIEW: Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

 Un Lun Dun
by China Mieville

Strange things keep happening in London when Zanna is around, and the only one who notices (or will admit to noticing) is her best friend, Deeba. When the two of them follow a living umbrella and Zanna transports them to the strange world of UnLondon, they are hardly shocked to find that Zanna is the mythical Shwazzy, sent to save UnLondon from the wicked Smog.

Character Likability:
Deeba: “The Funny One”: as categorized by The Book, under Shwazzy sidekicks. A label she finds most insulting. However, it’s quickly apparent that Deeba is, in fact, the main character of this story, having much more depth and personality than the rather bland Zanna. Deeba takes over and pulls us through a danger filled adventure filled with the strangest of creatures.
Zanna: The Shwazzy, revered as the savior of UnLondon, and Deeba’s best friend.
Half boy, half ghost, Hemi is misunderstood and bitter. He knows how society sees him, even if it’s wrong, but there’s little a semi-transparent boy can do about it… except team up with Deeba to save the world.
Smog: The big bad in this book, it is what is sounds like, one big, nasty, black cloud of evil.
Curdle: Deeba’s pet milk carton, Curdle shows amazing courage when you would least expect it from something that smells like spoiled milk.
Obaday: An interesting take on a tailor, Obaday has a pincushion head and makes clothing items out of book pages. I kind of wish he really existed.
Skool: Obaday’s sidekick, and an amusing take on the idea… but I won’t say more.
Book: The Book of prophecy, looked to by all for the answers on what is to come, but quickly it is discovered that what is written in the book isn’t exactly how things will be. The Book speaks, and is often heard lamenting its own new-found worthlessness.
Conductor Jones: A Conductor who came through from London when Conductors were gotten rid, he has found new life in UnLondon with his friend, the bus driver, Rita.
Brokkenbroll: Lord of the Unbrellas (read that carefully) he is working with a man named Unstible to create Unbrellas that can withstand the onslaught of the Smog… but one can’t help think that something sinister might just be up.

This book pulled me right in, starting with the two girls, Zanna and Deeba, standing in London staring at a fox who was most certainly watching Zanna in a sort of awe. I was sucked in, and kept interested by the strange things that kept happening. Mieville’s style is smooth and never once pulled me out of the story, which is the number one thing I ask for from any book. As the story progresses, things start happening faster and faster, and while I enjoyed the action, I wish there had been a bit more time to develop certain characters they met along the way. There was a real opportunity here to create some deep, rich, strange, interesting people, but I think it was somewhat lost, since the story was more plot driven than character driven. The plot, though, was fascinating and rich in ideas and action.

While the beginning of this book was a little slow moving, it quickly picks up speed and races along, straight to the end. I really enjoyed the end of this book, it was one of those endings that you can be satisfied with, even if another book in this world is never written… and really, with the end to this book, one doesn’t need to be.

This particular book has a rich, bursting at the seams plot line. There is so much going on that it almost seems as if the book isn’t quite long enough for everything that is happening. This is one instance where I really wouldn’t have minded this story being broken into a series of more books. The world was amazing, interesting and bewildering, and I would have loved to slow down and see more of it. ESPECIALLY the land of the dead.

 Believability of World:
The author did a wonderful job making a rich world for these characters to play in. UnLondon is supposed to be a bit unbelievable, in so far as all of the insanity that takes place there, and the magic of it all, but it is written in such a way that one can easily buy into it.

Overall Grade: B+ ~ An exciting romp in a magical world, and a very likeable heroine.

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