I have an umbrella stand just inside my front door. Quite a nice one, from Marks & Spencer. I keep umbrellas in it. I’ll have to rethink this state of affairs, now that I’ve read China Miéville’s Un Lun Dun.
I’d never heard of China or his books before. His name and the title of this latest book, his first for children, somehow make me think of, well, China. But it’s about London, in a Diagon Alley meets the Oxford Ring Road, Pullman style, kind of way.
I sighed when I saw the size of it, another five hundred pages plus book. (Seriously, I’d really welcome more books at two hundred pages.) I like fantasy, or so I thought. The first third of Un Lun Dun nearly made me give up, my brain whirling with all the new concepts China must have spent ages thinking up. But I persevered, as it’s an easy read, not counting all the weird creatures you might have to remember for later. All I can say is, I want a milk carton like the one in the book.
This fantasy, set in an alternate London, is really about pollution and crooked politicians. I think. And sidekicks are good, all things considered.
Un Lun Dun is about two girls, Zanna and Deeba, who accidentally end up in UnLondon, where a war is about to begin. The story is full of a bewildering number of strange, but mostly likeable characters, good and bad. It’s about growing with the task at hand, and coping with new challenges. But I wonder if China made the two girls females to be politically correct, because I don’t feel they are “real” girls. That aside, Un Lun Dun is a really good adventure that should get a lot of fans. The editing has slipped up in a couple of places, but it’s not a big deal.
China has also made the drawings throughout the book. They are very good indeed and help when trying to visualise this very different place.
Along with the milk carton, I’d quite like a book like the book in the book. If you know what I mean. But I’m much less sure of the umbrella situation.