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Book Report: Un Lun Dun

I had postponed re-reading Un Lun Dun for a while, largely because I dreaded the possible letdown if I discovered that the book doesn’t lend itself to multiple readings. After all, part of the fun—a lot of the fun, although there is a lot of fun to be part of—was from the surprise when China Mié ville really let go and slammed the conventions. This time through, I knew I would be expecting the Unchosen one to Choose herself, and to reject the Quest in favor of just getting the job done. And, of course, when the Good Guys appear to be perhaps not entirely Good Guys, re-reading means you know whether they are Bad Guys or Good Guys or if it’s More Complicated than that. This is in addition to the other dread, that somehow YHB liked the book too much the first time through. That I would read the thing, shaking my head at all the clunkers, the annoying bits, and the interminably dull passages I must have missed on the first time, and have lost a favorite book.

Fortunately for YHB, no such thing happened. I enjoyed the second read very much indeed, and Un Lun Dun is still a favorite. I can’t say it was better the second time, but it was very good the second time. And I am confirmed in my initial judgment: it’s a hell of a book.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


So if one were seriously remiss and had not actually read anything by China Mié ville as the year 2010 comes to a close, would you recommend starting with Un Lun Dun?

Certainly. Although to be fair, it is not in any sense representative of his work. Of which I have read three novels. But it is (a) shorter and less complex (being a YA book) and so more accessible and less of a commitment, and (2) really good. Oh, and unlike The City & The City, which I also liked, I am quite sure that you will enjoy catching all the resonances of this work within its genre.

Of course, I didn't like Perdido Street Station, and didn't read the others in that series, so people who did might give you a different answer.


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