I just finished reading China Miéville’s Un Lun Dun and over all I have to say that I really liked it. Sure, at times I found it a little too childish, but then again kids are the intended audience. In fact the biggest problem I may have had to do with the fact that this book came too highly recommended. Funny how often that turns into a problem when someone recommends a book. What I mean is that I was expecting to be completely blown away so somehow that ‘I really liked it’ seems mild… and it also leaves me wondering whether or not a less enthusiastic recommendation would have led me to enjoy it more (or if it would have caused me to send it to the pile of books I intend to read ‘someday’).
So to begin with let me say that I had never read anything by China Miéville before, but I had come across a review that described Un Lun Dun as a cross between Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Seeing how those are two of my all time favorites I couldn’t resist. The thing is that while the influence of both of these works is apparent throughout the book, I find it lacking some of their depth, and it also has a far more explicit message that at times is a little too ‘in your face’ for comfort, a fact that marks a pretty stark difference.
On a more positive note, I liked the characters and some of the concepts. I loved Hemi and how Deeba grew up as the plot unfolded, I liked the concepts of the unchosen one, the utterlings and the unGun… and how can you go wrong with a book with a reference to A Wasp in a Wig? (and if you are wondering what this wasp in a wig thing happens to be, you can find it here). Anyway, while some points did come across as a little too overdrawn for my liking, I realize I am not part of the book’s target audience, so that may be a problem that has more to do with my own perspective than with the book itself.
In other words, even though this review is coming across as a little too negative for my liking, I wouldn’t hesitate to give this book a four stars rating. As I said, I definitely enjoyed it and I would most definitely recommend it, just don’t go in expecting to fall in love with it… who knows, maybe if you don’t expect to fall in love with it you actually will!