Friday, July 10, 2015

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Publication Date:  November 1, 1998
Publisher:  Avon
Series:  Stand Alone
Pages:  370
Genre:  Supernatural
Synopsis:  Richard Mayhew is a plain man with a good heart - and an ordinary life that is changed forever on a day he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. From that moment forward he is propelled into a world he never dreamed existed - a dark subculture flourishing in abandoned subway stations and sewer tunnels below the city - a world far stranger and more dangerous than the only one he has ever known... 

Review:  It took me forever to read this.  A good eternity and a half, I'd say.  This was not necessarily the book's fault, but my own. Although, yes, I do slightly blame the (pretty good) book.

Neil Gaiman has such a unique style of writing, and I really like it. It intrigues me.  There's just something about his diction, the way he arranges his sentences.  Neil Gaiman must be either a serious madman or from another world, because his writing skills are just insane.

This is what Neil Gaiman does in his free time, I'm sure of it.
But in Neverwhere, however, his world building and character development is lacking.  Don't get me wrong, London Below (which is sort of an Island of Misfit Toys with more monsters and death) is phenomenal.  Neil Gaiman has creativity through the roof. But in all that creativity, the development got lost.  I wanted more of the world, more of the characters.  There is so much potential that gets lost in the noise.  I think, with more elaboration, this could have been a stellar novel, rather than just a good one.

The plot is fantastic, if you ask me, if a bit on the slow side.  It's difficult to get into this book, but worth it.  The twists and turns are obvious and all, but I never minded, because Neil Gaiman doesn't try to present them as this grand scale mystery with heart stopping suspense.  They just are what they are.  However, I do feel as if the plot could have been stretched out a little to leave room for that missing elaboration. 

Richard is the protagonist, and possibly the only character I think didn't really need any more fleshing out.  Richard is endearing, in a lost puppy kind of way.  But he's also a total pansy.  I understand that he's been pulled into this world he doesn't understand nor wants to be in, but come on.  He is ultimately useless for a good half of the book and remains fairly passive the entire time.  I didn't dislike him, yet I didn't care for him much, either. 

My favorite character was Door, surprise, surprise.  She's determined and resourceful, plus she has this super cool ability to open all things that are locked.  It sounds underwhelming when I say (write?) it, of course, but you have to trust me on this one.  It's one of the most fascinating powers I've ever had the good fortune to come across.

The maquis de Carabas and Hunter are just two of the strange cast of characters that pop up throughout this novel.  Both are highly interesting and have distinct personalities, but, again, had some wasted potential.  Especially Hunter, in my opinion.  There is so much to work with for her and not a lot of it gets used!  

Oh, but the villains?  Maniacal.  Croup and Vandemar have been hired to track down Door after they assassinated the rest of her family.  They bite the heads off of rats and delight in torturing people.

And yet the Angel Islington is certainly the most terrifying of the lot.  He's and angel.  He is supposed to be on Team Good and honest and gentle and everything kittens are, really.  But he isn't. He is not vicious or cruel like Croup and Vandemar, but he is cold and absolute in his "righteous" beliefs, which is scarier than both Croup and Vandemar combined. 

You can definitely tell that Neverwhere is one of Neil Gaiman's earlier works and I wonder how he would do this differently today. It is no Ocean at the End of the Lane, but it is peculiar something.

3 Keys 


  1. I'm so glad you reviewed this because I've had it on my TBR since Christmas. It sucks that you found the book to be underdeveloped, but I'm glad that Neil Gaiman's writing is wonderful. I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane a while ago, and it's good that his earlier works have beautiful prose. Also, you get extra points for the Dr Who GIF (and even more points that it's David Tennant). I think I'll still pick this up though. Great review!

    1. Read it! His writing is well worth it, in the end. I ALSO read Ocean at the End of the Lane (there's a review of it floating around here somewhere...) and LOVED it to pieces. But I HAD to sneak a Doctor Who gif in there. How could I not? David was my first doctor and I REALLY didn't want him to go. And, seriously, DO read this!!!

  2. I have this kind of weird realtionship with Neil Gaiman's writing. >_< I LOVE it, but I love it more in retrospect, you know?! Although I'm a sucker for his kids books like The Graveyard Book and Coraline and fajkdsl I ABSOLUTELY ADORED GOOD OMENS! <3 I'm not sure I'd run after this one, though...maybe one day? x) Still, fabulous review!

    1. I totally get what you mean about his writing! His books always look better in retrospect, which is quite peculiar. But, horribly, I haven't read The Graveyard Book! Although I THINK I read Coraline at some point in grade school. I HAVE ONLY READ OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE AND THIS ONE SEND MORE NEIL GAIMAN. This one is worth reading, I would say! Thanks for commenting!