Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman {Amanda’s Review}

Posted 31 October, 2012 by Amanda / 30 Comments

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman {Amanda’s Review}Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Literary
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

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.

Overshadowed by praise, but still good.

My Thoughts on Neverwhere

Neil Gaiman is a name that is whispered (in tones that resemble high-pitched squeals rather than hushed tones) across the book community. I picked up Neverwhere during one of my stops at Borders when it was going out of business. I knew that getting a Neil Gaiman book was a must, and I believe I chose Neverwhere because it is one of Smash’s favorite books. I put off reading it for a long time, though, because really. How do you deal with the pressure of reading well-loved author? Solution: I prodded Kelly into agreeing to have a Neil Gaiman week for Halloween. And I liked this one. I did. It won’t be my last Neil Gaiman book. (And not just because I own Anansi Boys.)

While I enjoyed Neverwhere, I did have a couple problems outside of the book itself: I read this during a reading slump, which makes my reading slow and labored; and the expectations I had going into this book worked against me and actually stopped me from enjoying this book as much as I probably could have. The expectation aspect is easy to quantify: I expected something that would totally and utterly rock my world. It didn’t. (To be fair, few books do.) Reading during a slump is less easy to quantify, but likely had its sticky little fingers all over my enjoyment. (Like having my focus stuck on the commas. Holy commas, batman!)

By FAR, the best part of Neverwhere is London Below. It is a world unlike any other. If there are hard and fast rules, few know them. (Richard, of course, is utterly clueless.) Many times in books, fear is created through the lack of knowledge and the lack of control. This is what makes London Below. Like Richard, we don’t understand London Below. It twists. It turns. It defies our London Above logic. It is fantastical without being magical. It fascinates and it horrifies. It is AWESOME.

Neverwhere is the kind of book that doesn’t necessarily inspire a lot of connection with its characters. Richard is our main narrator, but I never particularly liked him. I wanted to know more about Door and her family. About the Marquis. About Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. About Hunter. MOAR! In many ways, I desired more knowledge and a greater connection with the characters. But at the same time, when the story ended, I wanted another chapter; I didn’t want to leave. But the lack of connection with its characters was made up by the humor. It is both subtle and pervasive; the kind of humor that has your lips curving up in a sly smile when you read. And the descriptions! (They’re pretty cool. You probably don’t want to miss them.)


Filed under: ESR: 7, Horror, Review: Amanda,


30 Responses to “Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman {Amanda’s Review}”

  1. AMANDA.
    Whether you crazy-loved it or not, your review = M A G I C.
    I LOVED this: “the humor. It is both subtle and pervasive; the kind of humor that has your lips curving up in a sly smile when you read.”

    That’s SO Gaiman. These moments where it feels like an almost personal in-joke and *sigh*

    I HAVEN’T read Neverwhere despite having owned it for a year, myself. I can’t wait to :D

    oooh! And Anansi Boys! Have you read American Gods? It’s actually kind of a sort-of sequel… but one where I don’t believe you need to have actually read book one. Maybe a companion is a better term?

    I’d be really interested to hear the opinion of someone who HAS read both ♥

  2. “wanted to know more about the characters” I felt that way in The Graveyard Book too. You know them, but mostly from the outside looking in. Maybe it is more about the situation + aloof characters = creepier?? Don’t listen to me. I’ve only read 1 Gaiman book and by no means have a clue.

  3. I HATE how reading slumps color everything you read, even if it’s the best book in the world. Or a Neil Gaiman book. I haven’t read this one so I can’t say that it rocked my world but it *sounds* good.

  4. I’ve been meaning to pick this one up ever since it was selected for “One book One Chicago” program a few years ago. Gaiman is a hit or miss with me. Either I really, really love it or it’s a meh / so-so read. He’s definitely dark and has a twisted sense of humor that run throughout his books.

  5. I feel like so many of us are currently in a reading/reviewing slump or have recently been in one. I’m slowly coming out of mine, but it’s been a process and said slump has definitely colored my opinion of several books. I’m kind of curious about these commas though, are they super excessive? Now that’s all I’m going to be able to fixate on. Love it:)

    • We’re having a slump epidemic! It does seem like a lot of us are struggling, though. Boo. I’m hoping my reading slump clears up soon.

      I wouldn’t say the commas were super excessive, just… more than usual. And in my slump, it was something I picked up on.

  6. I absolutely ADORE Neil Gaiman. Really, I haven’t read a LOT of his books, but more of the Sandman graphic novels, his MG and children’s books, and a few of his more YA-type books. I love it ALL! I have this one on my shelf and a few others and really need to get to them.

    Oh, OH! And his Christmas short story is AWESOME.

    Anyway, I had tried to read this a few times YEARS ago when I bought it, but never really got into it. I think I should try it again because I don’t think I was ready for it. Neil has such a good voice when it comes to writing that makes him so accessible and his worlds are like no other.

    If you continue on with Neil’s works, can I recommend Stardust and The Tragic Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch? Both are AWESOME.

    Great review, Amanda!

  7. I both love and get confused by N.G.

    My favorite by far is American Gods. It is fantastic and the new audio was beyond magical. 10 narrators just rocked the casbah.

    I haven’t read Nevermore. I started it but I could tell that is one that I wouldn’t love.

    However—Stardust is freaking amazing. I adore it :)

  8. So, there was a mini-series made of this book a while back (possibly a BBC one, I don’t really remember) and it was so freaking COOL to see snippets of London Below come to life. The mini-series didn’t quite hit its stride like I wanted it to in all aspects, but it was… neat.

    I love that.

  9. This review is pretty damn awesome, just like you! You appear to have enjoyed London Below and all its fantastical fantasticness. The characters were pretty fascinating, but I agree that a strong connection to any of them was pretty lost on me. I just wanted to know more about London Below and all it had to offer. Heh. Croup and Vandemar are my favorite villains evar.

    The mini-series is wicked fun to watch. Humorous and quirky. If I’m not mistake, the mini-series came before the book. That’s different!

    HOLY COMMAS, indeed. Glad you enjoyed it and hope that your slump has improved. I think I will pick up American Gods soon, since I’ve had it forever and many Gaiman fans love it. :)

  10. Neverwhere is pretty up there on my favorite Neil Gaiman books list. Door was someone I really wanted to get to know more of because she is so bad ass. The descriptions in the book are so vivid. I am glad you mentioned those!! Great review!!!

  11. American Gods is my favorite Gaiman novel. Also, if you like graphic novels, try the Sandman series. We have the entire collectors series – the only way to read them, in my opinion. (Not for kids)