Book Journal: Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere

By Neil Gaiman

: Richard Mayhew’s humdrum life is turned upside-down when he is dragged down into London’s dangerous supernatural underworld after he meets a magical girl who desperately needs his help to avenge her family.

Some themes at play within the novel
: Poverty, Friendship, Identity, Discovery, Revenge, Good versus Evil

Characters: Richard Mayhew, Lady Door, marquis de Carabas, Hunter, Islington, Mister Croup, Mister Vandemar, Old Bailey, Anaesthesia, Lamia, Serpentine, Black Friar, The Earl, Lord Portico

Some Thoughts (Spoiler-ish, fair warning):
After reading Gaiman’s Black Orchid, I was curious to read more of his work. I noticed Neverwhere received great reviews on GoodReads, so I bought it for some adventurous summer reading without having much of a clue as to what the book is about.

If I had to sum up my experience with this novel in a few words, they would be: Enjoyable and unpredictable, but lacking any deep emotion. Gaiman creates a fascinating world; I was really sucked in along with Richard into London Below. The characters, monsters, and other assorted magical creatures are painted so vividly… but I found myself not actually caring about them too much.

I was unable to  forge an emotional connection with the characters. Richard isn’t terribly likable. In the beginning, he’s portrayed as a total sap without much of a backbone working a boring job and engaged to a woman who pushes him around. He slowly finds some inner-strength, but he isn’t as exciting so much as his journey is. In terms of Door, Gaiman doesn't do a very good job getting me to feel sympathy for her plight. Since she is so central to the story, there should be more information about her early on, but there isn’t, which is why I didn’t feel close enough to her character to feel for her tragedy. What happens to her family is horrible, but her backstory isn’t relayed in a way that makes my heart break for her as it should.

I suppose what I am trying to get at is that Gaiman spends a great deal of time describing this underworld and all the creatures inhabiting it, but he doesn’t spend enough time fostering a connection between character and reader. Though, I admit I really like the marquis de Carabas; he’s witty, cutting, and clever; however, one small plot hole related to him bothers me a lot more than it probably should. When de Carabas' body is pulled out of the sewers, the Sewer Folk raid his person for anything in his pockets, so how does he still have the Beast token/talisman when he goes through the Labyrinth? Tsk. Hunter interested me as well—I wish there was more of her badassery in the book. I realize there are reasons for why she is shrouded in mystery, but there isn’t enough explanation for why she cannot go to London Above, where she was during her absence before reappearing as Door’s bodyguard, why she became a hunter, or where she even originally came from.

Too many unsatisfyingly unanswered questions. Not enough emotion. Still, Neverwhere is a fun, quick read for urban fantasy fans.

Favorite Quotes:
“You've a good heart. Sometimes that's enough to see you safe wherever you go. But mostly, it's not.”

“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. ”

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Information about my copy for my own records:
Publication: HarperTorch, First Paperback Printing, October 2001
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780380789016

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