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 place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book.
When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last. But then things begin to go shockingly wrong.
From the Hardcover edition.
Though it's being marketed as a YA title, Mieville's (The Scar) latest will appeal to his adult fans as well as other adult sf readers. It begins with a conventional fantasy framework: a young person is pulled into another world, turns out to be the hero who's been prophesied, and triumphs over great adversity to save the day. However, it's not long before the conventions are set on their collective ear. The hero is struck down, and the friend once relegated to the role of comic sidekick must take the reins. Other prophecies turn out to be wrong as well, and the enemy's reach spans both the fantasy world and the real London that a 12-year-old named Deeba calls home. Mieville displays his usual flair for creating completely original settings and creatures, including a pet milk carton and some terrifying giraffes. His only nod to the YA audience has been to tone down the eroticism evident in his other works. The characters are well realized and the book has a fair amount of sociopolitical subtext, mostly about questioning the status quo and thinking for oneself. Recommended for most adult sf collections. (Illustrations by the author not seen.)-Narl G. Siewart, Hardesty Regional Lib., Tulsa Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-1 of the 1 most recent reviews
1 . Good story, poor ebook
Posted March 18, 2010 by Ben , PennsylvaniaI enjoyed the fantastic story quite a bit. The basic story, while a bit cliche, is counteracted by the interesting premise of the "other world". I do think, like some other people, that the main characters (particularly the 'good' ones) are a little flat. But overall I enjoyed it.
However, I'm mostly here to criticize this as a poorly made ebook. First, the publisher info in the reader store seems to be wrong. It says "Random House", but the actual book has "Ballantine" written all over it. Also, the cover art shown in the reader store is not what you get. Instead you get a cheap looking thing like you can see on "The Scar". I don't mind the cover art so much, but it annoys me that the information in the store is different than the actual book.
Then, there's the matter of the book's passages. It's certainly readable, but 2 things annoyed me. First, the pictures are all left-justified and the text doesn't wrap around them. The non-wrapping text is by design, but the images are actually supposed to be centered (I learned this by examining the CSS, after removing the annoying DRM). Another small annoyance about the pictures is that they sometimes appear in places that have nothing to do with the picture.
Second, I absolutely hated the full line of blank space following each paragraph. I don't know why publishers insist on doing this, because it's pure crap. It's ok for the internet, but this is NOT the internet. It's a book.
I'll never understand why publishers have a hard time making nicely formatted ebooks. It's not hard or complex at all--certainly much easier than formatting a website. Tons of hobbyists do it way better than companies that pay. It's shameful.
February 12, 2007
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Excerpt from Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
The Respectful Fox
There was no doubt about it: there was a fox behind the climbing frame. And it was watching.
"It is, isn't it?"
The playground was full of children, their gray uniforms flapping as they ran and kicked balls into makeshift goals. Amid the shouting and the games, a few girls were watching the fox.
"It definitely is. It's just watching us," a tall blond girl said. She could see the animal clearly behind a fringe of grass and thistle. "Why isn't it moving?" She walked slowly towards it.
At first the friends had thought the animal was a dog, and had started ambling towards it while they chatted. But halfway across the tarmac they had realized it was a fox.
It was a cold cloudless autumn morning and the sun was bright. None of them could quite believe what they were seeing. The fox kept standing still as they approached.
"I saw one once before," whispered Kath, shifting her bag from shoulder to shoulder. "I was with my dad by the canal. He told me there's loads in London now, but you don't normally see them."
"It should be running," said Keisha, anxiously. "I'm staying here. That's got teeth."
"All the better to eat you with," said Deeba.
"That was a wolf," said Kath.
Kath and Keisha held back: Zanna, the blond girl, slowly approached the fox, with Deeba, as usual, by her side. They got closer, expecting it to arch into one of those beautiful curves of animal panic, and duck under the fence. It kept not doing so.
The girls had never seen any animal so still. It wasn't that it wasn't moving: it was furiously not-moving. By the time they got close to the climbing frame they were creeping exaggeratedly, like cartoon hunters.
The fox eyed Zanna's outstretched hand politely. Deeba frowned.
"Yeah, it is watching," Deeba said. "But not us. It's watching you."
Zanna--she hated her name Susanna, and she hated "Sue" even more--had moved to the estate about a year ago, and quickly made friends with Kath and Keisha and Becks and others. Especially Deeba. On her way to Kilburn Comprehensive, on her first day, Deeba had made Zanna laugh, which not many people could do. Since then, where Zanna was, Deeba tended to be too. There was something about Zanna that drew attention. She was decent-to-good at things like sports, schoolwork, dancing, whatever, but that wasn't it: she did well enough to do well, but never enough to stand out. She was tall and striking, but she never played that up either: if anything, she seemed to try to stay in the background. But she never quite could. If she hadn't been easy to get on with, that could have caused her trouble.