Un Lun Dun is China Mieville’s book for younger readers. There’s less horriffic imagery than in the New Crobuzon books and the language is much cleaned up. I brought it in for Teen Book Club but no one took it home that day. Le sigh.
The story is about two girls in London who get summoned to the magickal abcity UnLondon (and yes the idea is similar to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere) because the one girl is the Chosen One, destined to help UnLondon fight off this terrible menace threatening blah blah blah. So things go on and along and there are untrustworthy ghost-boys and conductors of air-buses and binjas and everyone avoids the horrible flesh-eating giraffes. Great. Then, the girls find the professor who’ll make everything right again and they get to go home to London. Hooray! Everything’s wrapped up in a nice neat little package.
But we’re only a third of the way into the book.
Deeba, who was not the Chosen One, remembers UnLondon but Zanna (the Chosen One) has had her memories of the place removed because she was injured by the beast down there. The UnChosen One starts realizing that they’d actually fucked up majorly and has to find a way back to UnLondon to put things right. This is where it got awesome, because Deeba heads down without the prophecy backing her up. There are 7 steps the Chosen One was supposed to follow to find the weapon that would deal with blah blah blah but she says “We don’t have time to get each of these 7 things let’s just hit the last one; it’ll be the most important right?” Which is the kind of thing you’d expect someone real to do, someone not bound by “how things work in these kinds of stories.” I loved it.
So yes, Un Lun Dun. Good stuff.