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Book Review: 'Neverwhere' by Neil Gaiman

A review of Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere," and a look at what else the author has been - and will be - reading.

Synopsis: Richard Mayhew leads an ordinary life. He works, he has a fiancee (who is really kind of a bitch) and, as it turns out, he's something of a Good Samaritan. But he knows nothing about the world underneath his feet - none of us do. That is, until he stumbles across (literally) a young woman bleeding in the street. His fiancee, Jessica, urges Richard to keep walking; they are already late for their dinner appointment with Jessica's boss, and she doesn't have time to help the girl. But Richard can't so easily walk away. In the face of a threat of the end of the engagement and relationship, Richard scoops the woman up in his arms and carries her home to his apartment. The next day, his whole world will turn on its head.

As a result of his action in helping Door, the young woman on the street, Richard has become a nobody. He is forced to find refuge in a world he never knew existed - the London below the "London Above." Richard seeks out Door for her help in getting his life back and joins her on a journey to discover who is hunting her and who killed those who mattered most to Door. In exchange, Richard hopes to regain his life in London Above. But, when the time comes, can you really go home again?


My reaction: This is actually the second time I tried reading Neverwhere. The first time, I didn't get more than 60 pages and I simply returned it to the library. This time, prompted by the fact that it's the January book club selection, I made it through. At first, I still wasn't all that grabbed by the story, the characters, or the writing. I'll admit, the setting is intriguing. A London beneath London . . . it tickled an urge to read more about the history of London - something I've been vaguely interested in to this point, but never interested enough to pursue. And I did enjoy how author Neil Gaiman wove together the stories of each character. It's done very well - little hints and bits of information that fuel a reader's curiosity and sense of adventure and mystery. Overall, I'm glad I pursued reading it again and made it through all the way.

3 stars.

Coming up: I'm actually waiting on a few books to come in from the library, so I'm loathe to get into another novel. I tried a true-crime book, The I-5 Killer, by Ann Rule, but I think I'm more inclined to true crime when it's in the form of investigative journalism on television. I just couldn't get into the narrative. So, I think I'm going with a Christmas gift that I got - Million Little Mistakes, by Heather McElhatton. It's a "choose-your-own-adventure" book, something I have very fond memories of from childhood, so it should be a fun read while I'm waiting on books from the library. What are you all reading and what should I be checking out?

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St. Swithin January 22, 2013 at 06:28 PM
I've read several of Neil Gaiman's stories and enjoyed them. But his real strength is in graphic novels. When you pair him with a talented artist the result is stunning. The work that made him famous was _Sandman_. Pick that up at the library sometime. Or you can borrow my copies. By now I think I know enough about your taste in books that I can predict that Gaiman will never be a favorite of yours, but I do have to sing praise of his seminal work.
Jenna Czaplewski January 22, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Really? I've read only one graphic novel (ever) and wasn't that impressed! Perhaps I'll check out "Sandman" on your recommendation. :)
St. Swithin January 22, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Graphic novels range the gamut from horrible to sublime. Don't start with the first issue of Sandman. It takes a while to warm up. They are grouped by storyline. Look for early (but not the first) storylines such as _Preludes and Nocturnes_ or _A Game of You_.

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