Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

Zanna is starting to get suspicious. Strange things keep happening around her--even her best friend Deeba is beginning to notice. One day they see a cloud that is alarmingly similar to Zanna's face, people keep calling her "Schwazzy", and lots of animals seem to be recognizing her! Things take a dangerous turn when smoke comes out of nowhere and attacks them. That night Zanna and Deeba follow what seems to be a moving umbrella into a sewer. Zanna turns a spigot, and they are suddenly somewhere very unlike London.

In fact, they are in UnLondon where strange creatures abound. It seems Zanna's the Schwazzy, or the chosen one, sent to save UnLondon from the Smog. The Smog is like smoke with a brain, and all it wants to do is burn everything up. Along with its followers: the Hex, the Smombies, the Stink-Junkies, and many more, it wants nothing more than to stop the Schwazzy. In an adventure to remember across UnLondon, the girls meet a colorful cast of characters that deliver them safely to the Propheseers. It seems the story of the Schwazzy, or Zanna, has been prophesied for a long time. They have been waiting for her arrival. In her first battle, however, Zanna is defeated. Sick with worry, Deeba gets her back to London with the Propheseers help, but leaves a very confused group of UnLondoners behind.

When Zanna wakes up, she doesn't remember anything about their trip. Deeba is alone in her knowledge. She tries to go back to her normal life, but something isn't right. After some investigating, she discovers that one of the leaders against the Smog may not be who he says he is. Determined not to leave UnLondon defenseless, she finds her way back. This time things don't go as smoothly. No one believes her story! She finds unlikely help from a half-ghost, Hemi, and the Book of prophesies (who no longer believes he is worth anything). They begin to find an alternative way of saving the city, but will they make it in time?

For anyone who loves alternative realities, this is a great story. Deeba has to search for the key to saving UnLondon, and also to find her place as the UnSchwazzy. She learns that you have to stand up for what you know is right.
"Where did you come from?" Margarita said. "Lost Angeles? Baghdidn't?"
"I'm not from an abcity," Deeba said. "I climbed in from London."
"London?" The woman narrowed her eyes. "A young thing like you? You expect me to believe you climbed all that way? Straight up? Did you have any trouble from wordcrows? None of the warrior booktribes of the Middle Shelves?"(Mieville pg. 154, 2007).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Looking for Jake: Stories by China Mieville
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Mieville, China. (2007). Un Lun Dun. Ballentine Books: New York, NY.

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