A friend and I were asked to moderate for our book club’s monthly discussion this June. We considered sci-fi as the theme but while looking for possible books selection, we bumped into this new genre, the New Weird. Due to curiosity and reading good reviews about this genre, we chose it as our monthly book theme. And because we are also kinda weird (haha!), the books we picked are all written by China Miéville, who is one of the most well-known authors of Weird Fiction. This is one of those books, Un Lun Dun.
“…where’s the skill in being a hero if you were always destined to do it?”
Un Lun Dun is a young adult fantasy novel. So, what’s weird about this book? It diverts from the usual formula of this genre. Miéville overturned the usual idea of destiny, the Chosen One, the sidekick, the prophecies and the quests. It is actually difficult to describe what’s weird and unusual and not give spoilers. It is more fun, if you’re going to read it, to discover on your own as the story unfolds, how this story is different from the cliché tropes of a young adult fantasy novel.
One of the things that I liked in this book is its illustrations that are also drawn by Miéville himself. Knowing this made me admire him more. These illustrations helped me to imagine better the weird world of UnLondon and the weird characters created by Miéville. I applaud his imagination, how he created the world of UnLondon and even the names of the other cities coexisting in parallel with our real world. His play of words, even though some are absurd, made me smile. Okay, at other times, I even laughed and I shared the funny invented words and ideas with my friends while reading it.
Aside from the pleasurable creativity of this book, it teaches the readers that a person is the one who chooses his fate. It also values friendship and the environment. But to tell the truth, there are also some parts that I consider kinda dragging or too silly. Still, I love Mieville’s inventiveness. So as a whole, even with its oddity, or because of its oddity, I regard this as a fun and easy read. I recommend this to both kids and adults.