neverwhere

Brief synopsis (from Goodreads): 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.

Rating✈  Travel companion

Long story short: For some bizarre reason I had never read anything by Neil Gaiman before Neverwhere (except for the occasional Doctor Who episode I guess). He’s been recommended to me by a number of different people, so naturally his was the first e-book I downloaded onto Archimedes.

I enjoyed the tone and writing style in Neverwhere—it was simple, matter-of-fact, and even the more gloomy parts resonated with hope—and loved the idea of an unknown world coexisting with our own, but for some reason I wasn’t able to completely immerse myself in the story.

One reason I had a hard time following along was because of the protagonist. Richard’s initial disbelief when confronted with the new and weird world that is London Below is understandable, and it’s not that I didn’t want him to question what he saw, only he was still doing it halfway through the story. After a certain point it makes more sense to take things in stride and play along, yet he was constantly tripping over his own feet.

I also expected to learn more about London Below, its society and culture, and its history. Gaiman gave a taste of it, but I felt he could have gone a lot deeper, either in this novel or in a follow-up. The descriptions were too brief, not enough to get me hooked completely. I guess in a way JK Rowling, who constantly churns out more information about Hogwarts and the magical world, has set a high bar and left me expecting and wanting more.

Despite having really high expectations for Neverwhere, which turned out to be a little bit of a let-down, I’m still very much looking forward to reading some of Gaiman’s other works (Good Omens and American Gods have both been recommended to me).

Have you read Neverwhere or anything else by Neil Gaiman? What did you think?

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