Sunday, April 29, 2007

Neverwhere; Neil Gaiman

I don't know what has taken me so long to read Neil Gaiman, but I wish I hadn't waited. I very much enjoyed this book & am busily hunting up his backlist via the library and the UBS. Neverwhere is set in contemporary London, mainly under the Underground. In the front of the paperback version is a copy of the Tube map, which would've been helpful if I could've read it. Luckily we have a fold out copy of the map (from Son #1's band festival 4 years ago) which I kept tucked into the front of the book as I read along. It made things more interesting to see where he referred to. As an aside- as an American I'm sure I've missed cultural references scattered through Mr. Gaiman's work, but I found it very readable and I didn't feel like the only person at the party who didn't 'get the joke' if you know what I mean.

Onward. Richard Mayhew is an ordinary Scottish guy living the typical rat race lifestyle in London. He's engaged to the overly controlling Jessica (don't you dare call her Jess!) and seems unable to assert himself. He's there, but he allows himself to be steamrollered by the GF. Kinda like Hyacinth Bucket in the tv show Keeping Up Appearances. Until one fateful day, when Richard's running behind & Jessica's at her worst, they come across what looks like an injured homeless waif. Richard stops to help her, earning Jessica's fierce disapproval. This proves to be the event that catapults Richard into a bewildering world where nothing is what it seems and everything he's ever believed in is called into question.

Young Door is being chased by her family's worst enemy- if only she could figure out who that is. Her father asked her to avenge their murders, but Door has no idea who ordered it or why. Her world is called London Below, as opposed to London Above- where Richard is from and where you & I might visit, nothing and no one is what they appear to be. Once Richard has helped her, the consequences are unimaginable. Richard is no longer visible in London Above. His existence is wiped away. He can either wither away and become a statistic in London Below or he can soldier on and help Door on her quest. Richard chooses to help Door.

Mr. Gaiman does an admirable job keeping the reader off balance. Reading this I felt like I was following directions to a place I've never been: you think you're pretty sure you know roughly how to get there & approximately where you're going, but you're not completely sure and you know you'd better pay close attention or you're sure to be lost. That's what Neverwhere was like for me.

I laughed and I gasped and I wished Door and Richard had a chance. I wasn't sure if the Marquis was a good guy or a bad guy & I was totally surprised Hunter did what she did. One thing's for sure, I'll never look at a homeless person the same way again. Oh yes, if you read this be sure to watch out for the elderly bag lady with the white umbrella.


Jenster said...

You have intrigued me once again!

Mailyn said...

If you loved Neil Gaiman you should try STARDUST. We reviewed that as well over on Twisted Kigdom. Oh and we are having Kelley Armstrong over today with a contest.

Twisted Kingdom

Bookwormom said...

Jenster- It was very good, I really enjoyed it.

Mailyn- Am looking for Stardust now. Neither the library or the UBS has it.