BOOK REVIEW: Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman | #TBRChallenge
February’s #TBRChallenge theme was Backlist Glooms which means any author who had more than one book on your TBR. For this challenge, I chose Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.
Even though I haven’t actually read a large number of his books, I still count Gaiman as one of my favourite authors and one of my auto-buy authors. Whenever I fall into a writing slump, I also turn to Gaiman for inspiration (I’m writing this while watching his University of the Arts 2012 commencement speech).
Neverwhere was a fascinating read, filled with hilarious, larger than life characters. This was perhaps the first time I actually associated Neil Gaiman with Urban Fantasy.
Neverwhere is an adventure story which follows Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, from his safe, boring life in London Above into the dangerous unknown of London Below. A single act of kindness ejects him from his everyday normal life and into a world that is bizarrely familiar.
Gaiman’s attention to detail in the world building of London Below was wonderful. I could almost see the “what-ifs” floating through young Gaiman’s head while he lived in London, asking questions most wished he wouldn’t. Particularly Richard’s introduction to this hidden world beneath a city he thought he knew. His world is turned upside down and the process is highly enjoyable.
Richard was a lot like Gaiman in this sense, asking questions even after being warned not to and discovering the consequences of his curiosity.
Many symbols and iconic areas of London were transformed in London Below, creating people, events and creatures which would have startled any unsuspecting witness from Above. Things lost and forgotten found a home and those who fell through the cracks found their feet in some way or another. It’s almost a second chance story.
Neverwhere was very clear and told eloquently through Richard’s fear and ill-thought questions. It’s a message which should appeal to all: if you don’t like something, change it.
Richard’s character development was a well-charted path. He goes from living only for work and commute to living for the exhilaration of joy and experience even in a dangerous unknown world. His values change and his worldview is irreversibly altered.
It’s told in multiple POV which means the heroes and villains all get their chance to be heard and developed. Yet somehow the real villain is still a surprise and the ending is still unexpected. Bittersweet but unexpected.
This is a wonderfully crafted piece of work and I’m only sorry it’s taken me so long to read it.
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
Series: #1, Neverwhere
Genre: Urban Fantasy
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If you’re interested, check out my Favourite Urban Fantasy Reads video: