Review of UN LUN DUN by China Meiville
Del Rey, January 2008
She's Shwazzy, the chosen one. Predicted by prophesy to save Un Lun Dun from the sapient Smog, Zanna travels from London to the other world--the world where London's rejects (including people and especially objects) end up. Except something goes wrong--instead of winning her first battle as the book of prophesy confidently predicted, Zanna loses and almost loses her life. Fortunately, a scientist has returned from the regular London with news of a secret weapon and Zanna can return home, her memories of her failure lost.
Deeba, Zanna's friend, wasn't even named in prophesy. It's likely, however, that she was listed under the sidekick category as 'the funny one.' Unlike Zanna, Deeba hasn't forgotten about their trip to Un Lun Dun and little discrepencies bother her--a lot. The more she researches, the more she thinks there's a scam being pulled, that perhaps the supposed savior of Un Lun Dun is a fake. Still, what can she do? She's not the chosen one, she's just a girl. But she finds a path back to the other world and tries to warn them--only to find that they think she's crazy.
There's no way Deeba can match the quests predicted for Shwazzy--she doesn't have the time, resources, or allies she'd need. Still, she can't let this second version of London, along with the friends she's making, down without making a fight of it.
Author China Mieville (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Meiville) takes the standard young adult premise of the child of prophesy and turns it on its head. Combining this with an alternative world populated by people and things that fell through the cracks between universes, complicating things by misunderstandings, plot twists, and the occasional pun, Meiville delivers a charming story that should be accessible to young adult readers while providing enough complexity and humor to entertain older readers as well. UN LUN DUN is not as dark as some of Mieville's other works, but it is far easier going and completely enjoyable. I'm happy to recommend UN LUN DUN.
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