You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Un Lun Dun

China Mieville's Un Lun Dun is a light fantasy novel in stark contrast to his fabulous but dark Perdido Street Station. Two young girls find a way into an alternate version of London called UnLondon, where one, Zanna, is declared to be the chosen one who will save the city from the Smog. Zanna and her friend Deeba encounter all sorts of fabulous people and things, such as a boy who is half-ghost and a bus conductor who also conducts electricity. The story has a lot to owe to J. K. Rowling, but in many ways it is more inventive. One way it is different is that Deeba turns out to be a strong and determined central character.

Zanna and Deeba find their way to a bridge that can touch any street in the city and meet the Propheseers, people who are trying to figure out how to beat the Smog by interpreting the Book. However it soon becomes apparent that the Book doesn't know what it's talking about when Zanna becomes incapacitated. A man named Brokkenbroll who calls himself the Unbrellissimo because he controls unbrellas (umbrellas that have become broken, gone to UnLondon and turned somewhat sentient) promises to save Zanna and UnLondon by making a wary truce with the Smog. However after Deeba gets Zanna home and makes sure she is OK, Deeba realizes that Zanna doesn't remember anything and starts to worry about what's really going on in UnLondon.

Deeba uses clues from a page of the Book that it told her to rip out to climb the bookcases at a library, and ends up back in UnLondon. There she finds that the Smog has been taking over the city and realizes that Brokkenbroll is in league with the Smog, who is impersonating a scientist by filling a bag of skin with smoke. Deeba faces a steep battle proving to the Propheseers and others that they are being betrayed, and finding a way to complete the prophecy in the Book despite not being the Chosen One.

The world created by Mieville is very enchanting. Just about everything is sentient to some degree. He plays with the conventions of the formula, having the Chosen One get switched around, and when Deeba decides to skip most of the prophecy and go to the final goal. I enjoyed following Deeba, a creative and resourceful heroine. The book is light fun and an easy read. It's not as gripping and though-provoking as the last book I read by him, but it was still enjoyable. B

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