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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


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    If for whatever strange reason you ever wondered what a love child of Alice in Wonderland and Gaiman's Neverwhere would look like if it were raised by the Master of Weird well say hello to Un Lun Dun ' I know you're not a sidekick''No one is' Deeba shouted 'That's no way to talk about anyone To say they're just hangers on to someone important'This is an ode to all the sidekicks out there those who were 'destined' to be on the sidelines to be the 'funny one' or 'brainy one' or 'whatever one' to the Chosen One Don't you hate that trope? I do I know that in a fantasy setting I'd surely be the sidekick I do not love that designation and apparently neither does China Miéville And while he is busy subverting that ages old trope he decides to overturn a few genre clichés the quests the prophesies all that making it a delightful fresh read' If we planned ahead sent a few messages' Obaday went on 'maybe got a gnostechnician to check the travel reports on the undernet stayed each night with friends in safe places in whatever borough we reached then it would be perfectly safe Well reasonably safe Safe esque But yes it would be dangerous if we didn't think ahead and we took a wrong turning into Wraithtown or met some scratchmonkeys or a building with house rabies or lord help us if we ran into the giraffes'The city protagonist that CM excels at creating is the titular UnLondon the 'abcity' just like Parisn't or No York or Helsunki or Lost Angeles or Sans Francisco or Hong Gone or Romeless that can of course be entered by 'booksteps' and 'storyladders' with the parallels to the 'regular' world in the same way as Alice in Wonderland has parallels to it Miéville lets his boundless imagination run wild The surreal world of the abcity is fantastic and neatly crafted the extreme librarians unbrellas the living words carnivorous giraffes binjas Black Windows in Webminster Abbey Puzzleborough donut shaped UnSun bus conductors that also conduct electricity and even what to me looks like a version of Perdido Street Station The details are fascinating the world building as usual mind boggling The world that would be amazing and captivating to the eyes of a child and an adult alike but still in true Miéville fashion it has its ugly sides And now it is threatened and is in need of the UnChosen one In the streets of UnLondon a group of a girl a half ghost a talking book a piece of rubbish and two living words was unusual but not veryThis book won its way into my heart because of its delightful bizarre weirdness and stayed in my heart because of its 'sidekick' Deeba Resham The funny brash not particularly sophisticated snarky young girl with bad grammar good heart street smarts stubbornness and determination enough for a whole city with an Un milk carton Curdle as a pet with complete disregard for tropes and destiny and prophecies and all that fluff TEAM DEEBA is the next t shirt I'm investing in SeriouslyAs for the villain of Un Lun Dun well some can call it comical some heavy handed environmentalist message I found it very creepy especially after wondering over to Wikipedia to read about the London Great Smog of 1952 With all the recent environmental disasters all over the world view spoilerthe idea of government backing up the monster is easy to swallow and the ending of this book even satisfying hide spoiler