Wednesday, 31 May 2017



Book Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
Date Started: May 16th 2017
Date Completed: May 30th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Mystery
Quality Rating: Four Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Three Star
Final Rating: Four stars

Neverwhere is your typical Neil Gaiman adventure with your typical Neil Gaiman humour and your typical Neil Gaiman imagination. Can't go wrong, right? Obviously, being an adult book, it's quite a bit more mature and - dare I say it - creepy. I think this is the first full novel in the genre of urban fantasy that I've read from Neil, and I'm not 100% on it, but it was an enjoyable experience nonetheless.

One of the reasons that Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors - if not top of the list - is his ability to trust in his own imagination. It's no small feat to be able to think up all the whimsical and magical things he does, but something that amazes me every time I read his books is his ability to show them with no holding back. Of course, that's why he's so well known for what he does: because he tells the stories he tells with complete conviction and devotion, however outlandish or bizarre they may be. Speaking of such, Neverwhere is probably the strangest Gaiman story I've read (and I've read How To Talk to Girls at Parties). For me, it toed it a bit far with the urban city elements through in - but I adored the historical magical parts. We see the existing city of London twisted into strange new things, and we saw completely invented nonsense next to it in a wonderful little universe. I think I found it hard to completely fall into because there was such a mix of historical and contemporary creatures and creations; I couldn't quite handle remnants The Great Fire of London alongside businessmen on the tube. The story of Neverwhere is one thing, but what really sticks out is how it's really a love letter to London - all the Londons that have ever existed throughout time. Including it's mysterious and dark parts as well. I liked learning a lot about the history of the city that was integrated into a lot of the adventure.

As I've already said, Neverwhere is your typical Neil Gaiman adventure. Strapping young hero, a bit lost and pursuing the well-trodden path because there doesn't seem like anything else to do (or alternatively, rebelling because how can this possibly be all there is?), who has their escapade thrown upon them and has to navigate through some strange world with pretty much no idea what they're doing and a fair few mistakes piling up behind them. But who is, in the end, a hero because they carry on regardless. I've always loved those kinds of stories, and Neil does not disappoint. The world had me a little bit lost at times, but the plot was always keeping me glued to the page. It also had the nicest ending I've read for a while. Without spoiling anything, it's a little twist on the classical 'nostos' or 'homecoming' resolution, that almost has you thinking everything's back to the way it was before. But then, just in the last few pages, we're given just the hint of something else. This tone shift makes everything almost feel like it's still to play for: the characters will go on on their adventures for a long time to come, and that is immensely satisfying.

This book has some really great characters and relationship dynamics, but I would've liked it if some of the smaller characters had stuck around for longer so I could've actually got to know them. Neil has done his job in telling Richard's story, but I felt like Richard was the only character I really knew properly. Even every minor character has such personality and individuality to them that I just want to hover and learn about all of them before the story moves on.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of Neverwhere. It's not my favourite thing Neil's written - I think I prefer stories that don't involve the tedium of everyday life in general, even if it is to tell a story of a man escaping it - but worth the read.

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