Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

China Miéville
Un Lun Dun
Del Rey
470 pages

What is Un Lun Dun?

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.

In "Un Lun Dun"'s acknowledgment page, Miéville specifically thanks Neil Gaiman for "generous encouragement and for his indispensable contributions to London phantasmagoria, especially "Neverwhere". "Un Lun Dun"'s resemblance with "Neverwhere" is undeniable. Both take place in the hidden City of Adventure of London, with a fascinating worldbuilding and obscure creatures. I haven't read the whole "Neverwhere"--I first borrowed it from my friend back when I was still in seventh grade and my brain hadn't evolved fully so I couldn't grasp Gaiman's ingeniousness--but overall nuance of "Un Lun Dun" is pretty much similar. 

"Un Lun Dun" is an imaginative book that makes your part of brain that's in charge of imagination drudge extra hard. It churns your mind with splendid and smelly worldbuilding, with an interesting villain (a smog!), and magical creatures that people will never imagine before: carnivorous giraffes, dexterous bus, people who has birdcage as a head, the most scariest window. "Un Lun Dun" is a psychedelic steampunk--if that were ever a thing--and a perfect example that young adult book can be as bizarre as possible. 

It features a likable decoy protagonist and great concept, but lack of binding that connects the whole story. The plot is typical RPG thing--a quest to save the world and collect some important items along the journey. But, Miéville has spread a lot of red herring and Chekhov's Gun along the story, that I hope he will fire the gun at some time of the plot. But, no. He decides to keep the gun in safe position and doesn't fire it, and somehow it's disappointing because he has tons of ammo to awe me.

But other than that, Un Lun Dun still remains as the most obscure books that I've ever read, and that's good.
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