|Neverwhere: A Novel
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Neverwhere's protagonist, Richard Mayhew, learns the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished. He ceases to exist in the ordinary world of London Above, and joins a quest through the dark and dangerous London Below, a shadow city of lost and forgotten people, places, and times. His companions are Door, who is trying to find out who hired the assassins who murdered her family and why; the Marquis of Carabas, a trickster who trades services for very big favors; and Hunter, a mysterious lady who guards bodies and hunts only the biggest game. London Below is a wonderfully realized shadow world, and the story plunges through it like an express passing local stations, with plenty of action and a satisfying conclusion. The story is reminiscent of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but Neil Gaiman's humor is much darker and his images sometimes truly horrific. Puns and allusions to everything from Paradise Lost to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz abound, but you can enjoy the book without getting all of them. Gaiman is definitely not just for graphic-novel fans anymore. --Nona Vero
Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinarylife, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew.
- Wonderfully odd...a dark, twisted take on Alice in Wonderland
This was a really odd book, but wonderfully so. It's a story about two people really, Richard Mayhew and Lady Door. Richard has a fairly normal life in London. That is until he stops to help a girl named Door, who he finds bleeding on the street. This small act of kindness on Richard's part launches him into the world of London Below where all the people that fall through the cracks of London Above reside. Richard must now figure out how to survive in this place of darkness and monsters. He seeks out the one person he knows from London Below, Lady Door, to help him. But, she's on her own quest to determine who murdered her family and sent assassins after her....more info
- Don't buy audio version
The primary aim of an audio recording is to be clear and understandable and Neil Gaiman's recording of Neverwhere is neither. The author has the annoying habit of dropping his voice on the last few words of each sentence, making them unintelligible. The only option is to turn up the volume, thus risking hearing damage as the first part of each sentence is now very loud. On certain sections, he adds special effects (echos, static) which make those sections completely unintelligible. This may be a great book, but I will never know as I gave up in frustration after about 1 hour....more info
This book is the reason I have decided to read everything this person has ever written. What a wonderful ride through a creepy land of enchantment. Judging from the information I have found on the author, it appears I have been living under a rock. No more though; I am the newest voice of applause. Well done!
- Enjoyable novel
Mr. Gaiman often adds fun details to his books, and this is no exception. It's a book I enjoyed a lot, though not quite as much as American Gods. Overall, this book made for an enjoyable read, and any Gaiman fan should enjoy this. If it's your first Gaiman work, be warned that Gaiman writes stories that are different. If you're into fantasy and alternate realms, this book will definitely be a good reading experience!...more info
- Mythic magic
This was the first Neil Gaiman novel I ever read. I picked it up in London as we were boarding the plane to fly back to Canada. I know the London Underground very well, having lived in the city off and on since 1970. What I immediately loved was the way he plays back and forth with metaphor and description. I mean, Earls Court as a real court inhabiting one of the coaches - brilliant!
This guy really knows how to bring myth to life, and by myth I don't mean something that has no contact with reality, I mean the something that underlies reality, just as the London Underground exists beneath the city.
If a genie popped out of a bottle to grant me just one wish it would be "Please teach me to write like Neil Gaiman."...more info
- Loved it!
After reading Stardust, I was hooked on Neil Gaimans writing. Neverwhere did not let me down. Great characters, captivating storyline. I read this in two sittings....more info
- The perfect book...
I work in a used bookstore and read a lot of books of all genres. Gaiman is tough to categorize. I have read American Gods and Anansi Boys and toroughly enjoyed them, but Neverwhere blew me away.
It you enjoy reading, you will lose yourself in this book. It has everything you want in a book. Most importantly, Gaiman knows how to end a book. It is depressing lately to invest your time in a book that disappoints in the end. This doesn't. May be one of the best endings of a book ever....more info
Having heard Neil Gaiman praised many times as a master writer by friends and critics alike I decided to pick up one of his books. Neverwhere was my first Neil Gaiman novel and, though I would like to say I loved it, I was a bit disappointed. There is no doubt that Gaiman is a magnificent writer, his prose are lyrical and engaging. However, I found Neverwhere difficult to get through. Try as I might to fall in love with the story of Richard Mayhew I found myself getting bored as he tagged along with the Lady Door and her companions. Though I did enjoy the book it was certainly not what I had hoped for from someone who came as well recommended as Neil Gaiman. Though the story dragged in several places I did enjoy the ending and Richard's great character arc. All in all, the story was amusing enough but it didn't nab a spot on my favorites list. Still, I will give Gaiman the benefit of the doubt and try one of his other novels....more info
- Good solid read
The otherworldliness of this book reminds me of goethe's faust. The dip from our reality to another reality is smooth and therefore real....more info
- Hoping For A Sequel
This was a great book. It was highly imaginative with some very unforgettable characters. Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar come to mind. Very scary people! This book had quite a bit to offer although some images were rather disturbing. It even had it's comical moments (funny to me anyway) such as near the end of the book where Richard Mayhew is in the back of his apartment building at Newton Mansions and is caught by neighbors while he is crouched down talking quite seriously to a rat. I thought that was extremely funny.
I also enjoyed the concept of the "Floating Markets" and "Down Street" as well as all of the strange characters that made this novel so unforgettable.
I will never forget the "surface of the marsh" either (Ha ha! subtle sarcasm here). Who could? I was reminded of it so many times! For some reason the author thought it was necessary to repeat the phrase "the surface of the marsh" three times in a nine sentence paragraph and then once more in the very next paragraph for good measure. He must have been tired when he wrote that part!
However, aside from that little blip, this was a really wonderful book and I enjoyed it very much as you will too if you read it. I hope Neil Gaiman writes a sequel to this. It deserves a sequel.
Blue Lotus...more info
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is a stunning fantasy adventure that should be read by all those whom have ever once read a book. Gaiman creates a world underneath modern-day London called Below London (clever) and a cast of characters that are amazingly unique and yet easy to imagine.
Richard Mayhew is a director for a security company who, through a good samaritan-act, finds himself in Below London being chased by two venemously evil characters that are in search of one of his companions and will stop at nothing to do what they are hired to do. This small plot description nary does it any justice. Gaiman is one of the few authors where I have to stop reading and actually say out loud "How the hell does someone think of this stuff?" and yet makes it so easy to visualize. If you ever begrudgingly got yourself through a book in your time, do yourself a favor and read this one. You will be finished before you realized you even started....more info
- Very good fastasy novel - great ending!
This was actually my first Neil Gaiman novel, and with that being said, I really enjoyed it! He spent just the right amount of time on the main characters, there were many twists in the story that were hard to see coming, and the ending was quite wonderful. The only thing wrong with the novel is that there isn't a sequel to follow it!...more info
- A delightful book full despite rat-eating violence
Gaiman has this way of creating delightful stories even though they might contain less than delightful content: such as biting the heads of off live rats, bloody torture, and sifting through human sewage with a net. This is true in Neverwhere, where the story often turns violent. Somehow, though, it doesn't leave any feeling of nervousness or disgust, which is what grounds this type of story in Fantasy and out of Horror.
I'm not sure how he does it, but I believe it might the wondrous and complex worlds that he creates: in Neverwhere, this world is "London Below", a pseudo-real subterranean world in the tunnels and sewers under London. There are many interesting things happening, that the brutality of certain scenes is somehow made more palatable. Dont get me wrong - this is not a gore-fest, but there are very violent moments, as well as moments of extreme emotional distress for some of the characters... but there's no lasting sting. I associate it with a fine Single Malt: there might be a smokey or even sharp flavor to start, but the finish is pure velvety smoothness.
Another reason that Neverwhere appealed to me is the characters: each was a hard-survivalist on the surface (a requirement of living in the dangerous world below London), but they all had a depth to them that quickly revealed the heart under the hard exterior. I found myself liking every character, no matter how small their part in the story.
I highliy recommend Neverwhere, alhtough it may not be as suitable for younger readers as, say, Stardust...more info
- love this book
this is a perfect read...also is a perfect re-read! ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS IN THE WORLD!...more info
- Finally a fantasy book for Sci Fi geeks!
Character Development: A-
Read 6-12 months ago
First off, I haven't read fantasy in ages and prefer futuristic or non-fictions novels. I have to admit that this was one of the most difficult books to put down. The style is akin to Douglas Adams (both main characters are also reminiscent of one another), but with a darker tone. This book changed the way that I view fantasy fiction and has reignited my interest in the genre! I find myself obsessing over the sequel that he hinted will come sooner than later.
If you are looking for a novel that has British humor that is dark (not depressing) mixed with a fantastical world far removed from whimsical fairies and elves, this is the book for you. I would hazard the suggestion that this is a fantasy book for cyberpunk people....more info
- Great Writing, OK Story
This book was highly recommended, but I found it somewhat difficult to get into. The characters are very sketchily drawn, and the story just seems to wander with no real point. There are plays on the names of several London Underground stations, but they seem randomly selected and don't really add anything to the story. There's no explanation of the talents of the various inhabitants of London Below, or any indication of the alliances/hostilities that require areas/times of safe passage. Some characters seem to move between the worlds and the main character suddenly "disappears" from the world above for no apparent reason other than to bring him below as the narrator. The book is very well written as far as the imagery, but without a compelling story to hold it together, it just doesn't mean much. ...more info
- Male Rite of Passage
In a classical sense, this book is a male rite of passage novel. It opens with Richard Mayhew being almost totally self absorbed with his life, a theme that continues almost until the end of the book. But Richard's "passage" which one could call his ordeal, begins when he bends down to save the Lady Door Portico who lives in London Below. This is when Richard's London Above disappears and he begins to see that the world is more than the sum of his own life. In this novel, Richard grows by doing for others via a quest that is about saving the life of Door, and some of her mystical friends. The ultimate objective of Door's is to continue her father's work of uniting the Londons, to which many of the evil characters in London Below are opposed. Richard does, indeed, become an unlikely hero, although the reader never fully likes him. The reader simply wants to. He is annoying. And yet Gaiman does this on purpose. As a man, or a woman, stretches and grows beyond what they believe is their capability, it isn't with gusto, enthusiasm, and full confidence. It is much more like Mayhew - with tentativeness and maybe not even with willingness. The human condition is such that adversity is what makes us stronger and wiser - maybe even by accident. And it enhances our world view. This is Richard's rite of passage and Gaiman handles it very well. The book does move somewhat slowly, but you can't help but want to finish it....more info
- A great page turner
I was recommended this book by my friend, and I'm not disappointed. After reading this, I also read Stardust since it was by same author, and found Neverwhere to be better (darker). I would recommend this book to anyone who likes science fiction, has vivid imagination, or looking for a thriller. If you've ever been to London (I haven't), you might find this book close to home as well....more info
- Original, adventurous, and completely enjoyable.
I'm relatively new to Gaiman's work, but I found this novel to be quite amazing. The subterranean world he creates below London is quite strange, yet I often felt as if I were there as I read it. The characters are quite appealing and easy to relate to, and the plot takes many unexpected twists and turns, making for a very interesting and enjoyable read....more info
- The BEST book I've read in a long time
Finally - something worth reading. Thank you to Neil Gaiman for giving me a reason to pick up a book again!...more info
- My first Gaiman book
I like the way Gaiman writes with a little humor all throughout the book. It keeps the boring parts interesting and makes everything more realistic when you read it. At first a little slow but the story picks up quick and there is plenty of action throughout. I definitely recommend....more info
- Just beyond the surface
I enjoyed this book. I have read a couple of books by Gaiman this one was by far his most enjoyable. He seems to write about things that are just beyond our perceptions. I wish that he would have gone into more detail about these people who have slipped between the cracks...
Anyways I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to friends. ...more info
- Great Allegory.
I love this book. I'm biased, because I love Gaiman, but it's my favorite of his by far (and I've read quite a few of his novels). I really don't envision Gaiman having any kind of philosophy or politics with what he writes, because it seems to me, he attempts to remove us to a world as far from the mundane as possible.
However, I think everyone knows what it feels like to rant and rave and tantrum, to scream as loud as their lungs allow, and to be heard for a second and then ignored, just like our protagonist. We're all slipping through the cracks......more info
- Fantastic narrative
This book got me completely into Neil Gaiman. I read all of his other books after this one. If you are already a Gaiman fan you'll like it even more....more info
- London Below isn't rock bottom, but I bet you can see it from there.
There are hundreds of reviews here summarizing the plot of `Neverwhere,' so I'll cut directly to my opinions.
The main characters are tired archetypes. Richard is the average guy (er, bloke) out of his depth, and then there's the sexy female fighter, the orphan girl with strange powers (who is also sexy), and the sarcastic and selfish mercenary-type. Secondary characters are introduced and often killed a chapter later with no impact upon the plot or the emotions of the other characters or the reader.
Gaiman's dialogue can be excruciatingly precious, in a poor imitation of Douglas Adams' style, or it can be aggressively corny: a villain's shout of "You're [bleeping] dead!" is a real clunker.
My understanding is that Gaiman adapted this novel from his TV series of the same title. If so, this is probably why there are extensive descriptions of the sights of London Below - I'm betting there were certain visual devices from the series that Gaiman didn't want to sacrifice in the adaptation. Either way, his descriptive passages are long-winded and strike me as one of several tactics designed to artificially stretch the novel to its 400-page proportions.
The most irritating of these tactics to me as a reader is the mile-a-minute referencing of creatures, alliances, places, secrets, etc. that are never explored, explained or ever mentioned again afterwards. When Richard (quite understandably) inquires about these mysteries of London Below, he is almost always told that the subject in question is "something he's better off not knowing about." A few references of this type would give this world some color, but they come so thick and fast that I can only conclude Gaiman had no intention of fleshing them out. This level of laziness borders on antagonistic to the reader.
There are some cool ideas in here that warrant exploration. "Undercities" around the world apparently harbor legendary monsters - but where did they come from? Lots of magical trinkets and powers appear, but with little to no explanation behind them they're reduced to a string of deus ex machinas.
I was interested enough to finish this book, and I did genuinely want to know how the story ends, but `Neverwhere' so deeply flawed that I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I can see why some of its qualities - the episodic nature of the storyline (as noted by another reviewer) and the excessive descriptions of its settings - may have helped make Gaiman's name in comics/graphic novels. But long-form prose is not his medium: the stilted plotting and lack of character development cause me to agree with the reviewer who likened this to fan-fiction.
- Decent reading despite the flaws
I've only read a couple of Gaiman books before, so i can't say how well this stacks up to his corpus in general, but as a relative outsider I liked (though not loved) it.
The Pro's: It's fast-paced, and held my interest. The setting was intriguing, and I liked the characters -- especially the antagonists. It even made me chuckle in a few places, which helped lighten the otherwise dark mood that is the general tone of the book.
The Con's: The plot structure reminded me of an old computer game: each stage is essentially a quest to get to the next part, and this format came dangerously close to wearing out its welcome. Also, there are a **couple** of major plot-holes in the story, though I won't discuss them as they are spoilers. Admittedly, they didn't immediately jump out at me: I had to reflect upon the situation after-the-fact to realize "um, wait a second..." so I don't know how much of a speed-bump they will be to other readers. Even then, it could be a misunderstanding on my part: this novel seems to have an internally-consistent logic EXCEPT when the plot dictates otherwise and it's "convenient" for something to happen. I kind of have a low threshold for that sort of thing, but others probably will be more forgiving.
Overall, the book's positives outweigh the negatives, so I conditionally recommend it to people who like dark, off-beat quasi-fantasy fodder. If nothing else, it's a fast read and holds the reader's interest, so give it a go....more info
- Enjoyable Modern Fantasy
For some reason, I had thought that "Neverwhere" would be a dark novel. There are several dark elements, but the tone of the novel isn't dark (though it is often darkly comedic).
Overall, I found it to be faster paced than Gaiman's "Stardust" and as enjoyable as Gaiman's "Anansi Boys."
"Neverwhere" (like "Stardust" and "Anansi Boys") features a hapless, likable hero on a quest to escape a world that is both more dark and more whimsical than the ordinary life he knew before he fell through the cracks in the world.
The hero of "Neverwhere" is a bored worker bee named Richard Mayhew who could easily fit into the world of tv's "The Office" before almost literally stumbling across a wounded girl. The girl begs for his help, and that's where Richard's trouble begins. Before he knows it, Richard has lost his job, his fiance, his apartment, and quite possibly his mind.
Has Richard gone crazy? Even he isn't 100% sure. Perhaps he's become one of the homeless, haunted by delusions and talking to himself. Or perhaps he truly has fallen into an unseen world of magic, killers, monsters, witches, and angels that exists above, below, and through the shadows and cracks of London.
This is a modern fantasy/adventure with sparkling wit and enough darkness to keep it interesting. Overall, it was a fun, enjoyable read....more info