Monday, September 22, 2014

He's a little bit dodgy in the same way that rats are a little bit covered in fur

I've been suspicious of Gaiman ever since reading American Gods. Probably because it was the first novel of his I read and first impressions are hard to shake. Because see, I did not care of American Gods despite the fact that it seemed like a book I would like. And he seemed like an author I would like. Since that time I've read 1 and 1/2 more of his books (Coraline and Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett) which I really enjoyed. At yet, I'm still skeptical that things are going to be good. I should probably get over it by now, considering I've now read another Gaiman book I enjoyed.

This time around it was Neverwhere. Way back in January (whaaa?) Kayleigh mentioned listening to the radio play and enjoying it, in large part because of the great cast (Christopher Lee, Benedict Cumberbatch, Natalie Dormer, AND MORE) so it's sort of been in the back of my mind. I went to look for an audio copy and ugh, they always want so much for audiobooks. Which is probably fine since I've bought a few audiobooks but most of them are still in the plastic wrap. Whoops. But one day I saw an ecopy on sale and figured I'd pick it up. Then eventually I got around to reading it.

What is Neverwhere about?

Richard is a young man living in London. He has a good job, a future, and a fiancee (who is sort of a bitch and this seems to just be a simple way to show how lame is life and haha look how whipped he is and I'm not crazy about this part but whatever). Then one day, on the way to a dinner with his fiancee's boss, when they pass by a homeless girl who looks like she's been injured. Richard decides he has to help this girl (despite his fiancee's insistence they leave her and get to dinner, because back to that bitch comment above). He brings her back to his apartment, helps with her apparent stab wounds, and she rests up.

Two seemingly not-quite-human sketchy characters show up at Richard's looking for the girl, but she seems to have disappeared. When she returns she makes some comments about "London above" and seems to talk to pigeons and rats, and asks him to go meet up with someone called Marquis de Carabas to help out. He thinks he's done his part and can go back to his normal life, but since the book has just started obviously this won't be the case.

Richard realizes that it's like he's become invisible. No one seems to see him. Not just that, but it's like he never existed. Work already got rid of his desk, his apartment has been rented out to new people. He goes to find the girl (Door) and the Marquis to figure out what's going on and get his old life back. And this is when he's introduced to the London Below, a whole world separate from the London he's always known with creatures and characters and dangers.

Door's family had been murdered by someone and Door is trying to figure out who put out the hit and avenge her family. Richard is there so we have someone just as clueless about the world as we are.

I won't give away anything else, but you get the idea. It's an interesting story and I wish I knew London better(/at all) cos I'm sure I'd appreciate all of the little details that way. that's not to say I didn't enjoy the story. It's full of the strange and the weird and the scary. It's funny and off-beat and tense. There are a lot of great lines. Oh, would you like a couple examples? Sure, I suppose I could provide:
Inside the pub, Richard's friends continued to celebrate his forthcoming departure with an enthusiasm that, to Richard, was beginning to border on sinister. 
The boy had the towering arrogance only seen in the greatest of artists and all nine-year-old boys.
It wasn't my favorite Gaiman but it captured my attention and I will keep an eye out for that radio play with the all-star cast because I can imagine this working very well in that format.

Gif rating:

Title quote from page 173, location 2478

Gaiman, Neil. Neverwhere. WilliamMorrow, 2009. Kindle.