24 May 2012

Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

NeverwhereNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
How I Got It: Copy from my library.

A masterful work of dark, haunting power by the author of the bestselling graphic novel "The Sandman". The day after Richard Mayhew rescues a young girl he finds bleeding on the sidewalk, his life is radically changed. He finds himself living in an underworld that exists in a subterranean labyrinth beneath London.

First of all, before I get into my review, I’d like to try explain to you what sort of book Neverwhere is. Bear with me, and I’m sure that at least a few of you will know what I am talking about.

Picture that you are out and about, whether alone or with friends, or just clicking around the internet. Now a book comes your way. You’ve never heard of the title, and you may or may not be familiar with the author. The book is not a title people are tripping over each other to get to, and perhaps it was published a few decades back. So you take this title and you write it down someplace, a scrap of paper in your wallet, add it to a shelf on Goodreads where it gets swallowed up, or maybe your risking committing it to memory. You really do mean to read this book, but be honest, other books get in the way, and nobody else is pushing this one enough where you are reminded to stop off at the library one afternoon.

That is Neverwhere, a hidden gem in the book world that everybody should get their hands on because it’s a really, really good book. This book shouldn’t be forgotten, you should be like me and order the book from your library the day I heard of it, and you should read it.
The story follows Richard Mayhew, a Londoner with the seemingly perfect life. He has a good job, a nice apartment, a fiancĂ©, and a drinking buddy. He thinks his life is perfect, and it’s obvious he loathes change. But change comes when one evening he comes across a girl on the curb, looking homeless, but severely injured. The moment he picks her up in his arms to help her, his life will never be the same.

Soon he’s pulled down to London Below, another world beneath his faithful city in the sewers and the tunnels, where rats are regarded as royalty, the homeless look down on people like Richard, and there is a certain magic that is hard to explain. He meets Door, a princess in her own right, who has the power to open things, whether they can be opened or not is no challenge to her, and create doors where there were no doors before. Door is determined to avenge the brutal slaying of her family, and although she doesn’t intentionally do so, Richard gets pulled into her world.
And so Richard, because now no one in London Above knows who he is, even if he does manage get their attention. In London Below he is determined to find a way back home, even if that means traveling on trains in the tube with Earls, pulling information out of a man covered in feathers, facing an ordeal of the black friars, and keeping one step ahead of two uncharacteristic killers for hire.

I loved this book. This book was ridiculously fun, and Neil Gaiman’s writing is witty and off the wall. With every twist I was left wanting more, and no matter how strange his world building may have seemed, he wrote it in such a way that I was sold on the idea before he even wanted me to buy it. His writing just caught me and left me wondering, “Why the heck don’t I read this guy more?!”

The plot was so in depth that I started feeling a little homeless. Well, you know what I mean. Things made sense and I was rolling with the rules of his world better than the main character was.

I couldn’t put this book down. I was reading it with a friend and when she got through her reading for the day I had to embarrassingly admit that I was several chapters ahead of her and I still wasn’t down reading. I read in the car, at my computer, and was up to three in the morning to finish the last one hundred pages. After I did finish it I sat there wishing there was a sequel or at least several hundred more pages.

And may I just say this book ended in a way I think more books like this should end.
This book is set in the sewers, by the way. I say this because we all know what’s beneath our feet in cities. Sewage pipes, tunnels, old subway lines. This was the setting, and it was constructed perfectly. The three dimensional representation of the underground was just amazing, and as someone who reads as much as I do, I really demand that the setting is planned out with detail. And particularly when the book is set in the sewers, well I darn right demand that the details are there. I’m picky about my sewage.

Needless to say I wanted more during the book and at the end of the book. I still want more. I’ll probably finish this review and go online to find more. I’ll have a list at the end of the next hour of books by Gaiman I don’t want to get my hands on, but books I need to get my hands on.

This book is just fantastic and one of the most fun books I have had the pleasure of reading this year. Go out and get your copy.

Disclaimers: This book has some suggestive dialogue and occasional strong language.

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