Another favorite of mine, Un Lun Dun by China Mieville tells the story of two girls, Zanna and Deeba, who go on their own Alice in Wonderland type adventure.
Living in London, Zanna is constantly experiencing odd meetings. Random people come up to her on the street calling her Shwazzy, whatever that means, animals bow to her, and even her face is seen in a cloud. One day, her and her best friend Deeba stumble onto a secret city known only by the people who have traveled there.
UnLondon is the abcity of London and it’s in danger. A powerful Smog has found its way in and is intent on destroying the entire abcity. And apparently Zanna is the chosen one meant to come and save UnLondon from its fate. But things don’t go as planned and when Zanna’s memory is erased when she becomes infected with the Smog, it’s up to Deeba to solve the mystery of the Smog and what its plans are for not just UnLondon, but the world.
Un Lun Dun is a very imaginative book. Previous reviews have said that it’s like a mixture of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and Phantom Tollbooth and I couldn’t agree more. There are several instances in the book where I can definitely see those stories coming out as possible influence. Mieville has an amazing writing style and tells a powerful story within 400 pages.
One thing I really liked about this book that I didn’t really focus in on the first time I read it was the strong environmental focus it had. Yes, hard to miss with a young girl fighting the Smog as the enemy, but I found it more impressive the second time around. The characters are also very well done, moving the story forward with their own personalities.
So if you know a child/teen who loves Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz or The Phantom Tollbooth or who just needs a great adventure, pick this book up for them. They will not be disappointed!