Un Lun Dun, by China Mieville
I have been meaning to read some of the urban fantasy of China Mieville, if for no other reason than that someone with a name like that ought to be a great fantasy writer.
Certainly, all the reviews have praised Mieville’s characters and stories. Some time ago, I came across a copy of Mieville’s YA fantasy Un Lun Dun on display at an American Library Association conference, and I picked it up for the return trip. It proved to be all that I could want in a novel. Mieville has a deft hand for characters, and Deeba, the ultimate heroine of the story, can take her place with Phillip Pullman’s Lyra Belacqua and Francis Hardinge’s Mosca Mye in the ranks of tough, enduring characters who make their way through dangers that they never foresaw.
The story is complex enough to keep all readers interested, and Mieville mixes humor and wordplay in with a variety of intriguing plot twists. There are betrayals and failures here, and, as in all good fantasy, help often comes in unexpected ways and from unlooked-for quarters. Mieville conjures up an alternative London, where the unwanted debris of the real, contemporary London comes to life. This Un Lun Dun, or the Abcity as it is called, is threatened by the Smog, and it falls to Deeba to lead the struggle against this evil. There are puzzling connections between London and Un Lun Dun, and a sinister plot that involves the British government and those who would control the Abcity. Mieville blends a beautifully descriptive writing style with a flair for thrilling action, and I look forward to getting to his other novels soon.
Check the WRL catalog for Un Lun Dun