Title : Neverwhere
Author : Neil Gaiman
Publication date : September 2nd 2003
Publisher : William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre : Fantasy
Synopsis : Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.
Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.
“So the day became one of waiting, which was, he knew, a sin: moments were to be experienced; waiting was a sin against both the time that was still to come and the moments one was currently disregarding. ”
Well, where can one start witch this book ? I really genuinely don’t know. First, I went in knowing next to nothing, I read the blurb in the beginning of January looking for a book to read for a challenge that was published in 1996, and this one was the most intriguing. Since then, I forgot all about it and went in blind. This book was the most unique thing I’ve ever read. And the most confusing. And the weirdest.
Do you want to know what the best thing about the book was ? I’ll tell you either way haha. The writing. It is so intelligent, Neil Gaiman knows how to play with his words and use the right ones at the right times. And oh man ! The sarcasm. No, not the characters. The WRITING is sarcastic :
“There are four simple ways for the observant to tell Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar apart: first, Mr. Vandemar is two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup; second, Mr. Croup has eyes of a faded china blue, while Mr. Vandemar’s eyes are brown; third, while Mr. Vandemar fashioned the rings he wears on his right hand out of the skulls of four ravens, Mr. Croup has no obvious jewelery; fourth, Mr. Croup likes words, while Mr. Vandemar is always hungry. Also, they look nothing at all alike.”
I just fell in love with the writing style. And the descriptive parts are amazingly details. But that’s the thing, sometimes they were TOO detailed, and unnecessary at bits that I just got slightly bored and phased out, or I skipped that part to the more interesting ones.
The story is original in ways I’ve never encountered before. The world that we know has below it another one. Each city has an above and a below and this story takes place in London with the characters going between London Above and London Below. This take on Urban Fantasy added to the writing style drew me in immediately and I couldn’t put the book down for around the first 30% where everything was new, fast paced and intriguing. But then after that, as more characters were introduced, and the story lines diverged (Before converging again don’t worry !), things started getting confusing at times, boring at others as I frankly didn’t know what was happening anymore. And again towards the last 30% the pace picked up once again and there were SO MANY TWISTS AND TURNS, things I never saw coming were thrown at me and I was left to deal with all the craziness happening all at once.
The London Below wasn’t as built up as I would’ve wanted it to be. It was there, I knew where it was but really vaguely what it was. I just wish Gaiman would’ve added some more pages just to explain what exaclty this world was.
The MC is Richard, and he’s the clumsiest, most forgetful (and also the most boring) person ever. But when he meets Door and goes on a journey in London Below, he becomes stronger, more confident and the transformation he goes through is remarquable. Then there’s Door, a teenager born from a “wealthy” family in London Below who’s life was turned upside down by a tragedy. I really liked her, but my favorite character was by far the Marquis of the Carabas, the funniest, most morally ambigious character ever. That’s “the main crew”.
The characters are the exact opposite of the issue I had with the world building. They are awesome. The most eclectic cast of characters I’ve ever read. There were thieves, murderers, witches (Kind of?), monks, an angel, openers (People with the gift to open anything and everything), talking rats, rat-speakers, humans etc… And their names were so literal that it was hilarious: The openers are called, well, Door and Mr Portico, a smith’s name is Hammersmith (who would’ve guessed?) and so on. Same goes for places. Raven’s court is a court of Ravens, Night’s Bridge is a bridge where the darkness swallows people, Down Street, is a street made of stairs and going downwards. This book is quite caricatural if you ask me and I loved that about it.
There are as many POVs as there are characters (Or almost). Every time a new character with a meaningful part in the story is introduced, the chapter is told from his point of view and the book needs that. I usually don’t like multiple POVs but here they are cleverly done.
I started off loving this book, then by the middle I hated it (Yes really) but by the time I closed I ended up really really liking it. It is strange, it is dark and it is most definitely worth the detour. Neverwhere was my introduction to Neil Gaiman’s writing and I really enjoyed it despite the few problems I had with it.
Would I recommend ?
Yes ! If you like the bizarre and you want something that’s not common, go check it out !
P.s : Click on the Fan art to be redirect to the original site.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Neverwhere ? If so, what did you think of it?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.
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