China Miéville's 2007 novel for young adults, which I finished reading last night. Paraphrasing this comment on Whitechapel, he is a maestro at weird urban landscapes, something I've already experienced from reading Perdido Street Station and The City & The City. Here, a greater level of wackiness and humour is allowed in the world-building. Miéville, out of humility rather than vanity, includes a list of influences in each of his books, and for this one he name-checks Lewis Carroll and Beatrix Potter. While his other worlds are very rigidly defined, Un Lun Dun shows Miéville's imagination at play.
All that is well and good. But as I mentioned on the thread: can't escape the feeling that it's all a bit of an intellectual exercise for him. I dunno... a bit bloodless. All affect, no throbbing pulsating mucky uncomfortable FEELING in it.
Miéville is an interesting critic, and he gives good interviews. See e.g. here, where he talks about Jane Eyre and monsters and genre and the tyranny of plot and the way characters in his novels disrupt expectations. That last is a big feature of Un Lun Dun, where prophesies and quests are very obv questioned and subverted. There are also revolution metaphors to spot (the dialectic of the um- un- re-brellas is the one I got). All of which is fun in a kind of Where's Wally way...
I got through it, riding on the cool environments and the metaphors, but I'm still waiting for Miéville to have that breakdown / epiphany that leads him to start writing from the heart.