Book Review – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

‘Waiting was a sin against both the time that was still to come, and against the moments one was currently disregarding.’

Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is a wonderfully strange novel. The characters are odd, as are the settings and the story, but man did I enjoy it. Give me a strange world and I’ll be happy. I have the Chris Riddell illustrated version which, as you can see, also makes for a beautiful visual journey.

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This is actually my first Gaiman novel, as I’ve never had the longing to read one before. Controversial I know, but I was young and foolish. I mean, I’m still young and foolish, but at least I’ve read some Neil Gaiman.

What I love about this story is its originality. It has the basic idea of a hero’s journey from rags to riches, at least in terms of quality of life. Gaiman takes a meagre life and turns it into a great one. Still, Richard Mayhew doesn’t become your typical hero. He’s just an ordinary bloke who happens to visit a strange place and do some kinda cool things. He’s still just as ordinary by the end of it, which instills a sense of reality into Gaiman’s work. Here we are in this crazy, ridiculous world of London Below, yet we can relate to the protagonist because he’s just like us. He makes us wonder what we would do if thrown into a similar situation. I certainly don’t know what I’d do if I met the Earl of Earl’s Court.

That’s another great thing. The puns. THE PUNS! The Black Friars, the angel Islington, and Old Bailey are fabulous characters with ingenious names. It does beg the question why no one has ever done this before though. I wonder what else you could do that with. Although, I just tried to come up with one but failed, so maybe it isn’t that easy.

Of course, the writing is wonderful. He manages to incorporate ingenious lines, such as the quote I mentioned earlier, yet still keeping it light and witty (he is basically goals). I also like the way it comes together. Most chapters are told from Richard’s perspective, but there are also many told from Door’s, or the infamous Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar. It freshens up the pace, keeping it interesting as well as rounding out the story.

After reading Neverwhere, I think I will read some of his other works. Its strangeness has peaked my interest enough to explore further, yet I have a feeling that this won’t be my favourite of his books. Although, of course, it’s wonderful, there’s a lot going on. This is completely my opinion, but I get a bit woolly-headed if I have too much to focus on.

The real question is, which one do I read next?

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