The world reminds me of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, and Miéville thanks him in his acknowledgments. That said, while the setting is similar, it doesn’t feel derivative.
The world of UnLondon is a marvelous place, full of imaginative twists and interesting characters, and Miéville’s other London serves as a fascinating backdrop for his compelling story.
Deeba and her best friend Zanna follow a broken unbrella to UnLondon, where they learn that Zanna is the Schwazzy, the chosen one, whose coming has been long foretold, and who is destined to defeat the Smog, an evil, sentient cloud of pollution that threatens all of UnLondon, and London, too. But Zanna when fails in her first battle against the Smog and loses all of her memories of UnLondon, the prophesy runs off the rails.
Deeba steps up to meet Zanna’s destiny with the help of the despondent book of prophesies, an empty milk carton, a half-ghost, a tailor, a diving suit, a bus conductor, and a few words given form.
Using what facts they can find in the book, they devise a plan to fight the Smog, the unbrellas and their master, and the city’s misguided leaders.
The book deals with the issue of fate versus free will beautifully, and it embraces the idea of
the UnChosen one.
I was usually a step or two ahead of the characters, and that was a bit annoying around the book’s climactic moment, but as flaws go that’s not a crippling one. The setting, characters, and plot all worked together and the ending was marvelous. Overall, I give it a 4.5/5.