Un Lun DunSeptember 11, 2013
One thing that marks a truly excellent children literature is that it should attract children and adult readers alike. And this is true for this book. I believe that any adult can enjoy reading this book as any children (I hate the label YA that is given for younger audience books. Why not just children book? I am not ashamed to read a good children book.)
It begins with a magical journey (that I always love in children literature) to the un-part of London, named Un-London, pronounced Un Lun Dun, hence the title. It is cute, magical and entertaining. At one point I think that it will be another Harry Potterish follower; well, you have a child Messiah, trying to save the world plot. But the author does not let me down. Just after several pages, I find out that it is a totally different story, which is refreshing.
There are lots of clever word play. Un Lun Dun is one of them, and I am not going to spoil the fun by mentioning them here, read it by yourself. The author surely has a rich imagination, and creativity to bend the meaning of the words to fit his plot and character. At on point, he even deal with a linguistic debate! What is the meaning of a word supposed to be? According to the speaker (illocution) or the meaning grasp by its listener (perlocution)? What about the word itself which is the dictionary meaning of the word (locution)? What a clever insert! I cannot believe he put it in a children book! Any linguist will love this book truly.
Tha character design is also marvelous. The one that I truly enjoy is Curdle, an animate milk cartoon. It reminds me of the clip from Blur’s “Coffee and TV”. Search it on youtube. He must be a Blur’s fan. Also Skool, which is an animate diving suit, filled with water, and served like an living moving aquarium. Love the pun, Skool, school of fish! And many others. Truly truly magical!
And finally the plot. Many twists and unpredictable. The hero is not what is supposed to be, the same thing with the villain. Fun fun fun reading. Mieville keeps it interesting without delving too deep into adult literature regime (dark, ambiguous, gritty), which is difficult. He seems to be able to keep the balance between simplicity and complexity.
Some reviewers accused Mieville to be too political, by putting in environmental issue in this book. Well, I am an environmentalist my self. I support Green Peace. I cannot see anything wrong in saving the environment. Unless it is hurting your income from your polluting factory!
Final verdict, a totally fun reading. 5 stars. (For adult I will have to reduce one star).