I have literally just finished reading Neverwhere, a book that was recommended to me three years ago that I never got round to but always remembered and boy do I wish i’d finished it earlier. The book had me hook, line and sinker drawn into the story and characters and I just love the way Neil Gaiman writes his stories.
What is the Story?
The story of Neverwhere revolves around the (rather mundane) life of Richard Mayhew in Central London, one night he is out with his fiance and Door, a young girl, falls into his path covered in blood clearly hurt and despite his fiances urges to leave her be Richard feels compelled to help the girl and so leaves his fiance to her evening while he takes Door back to his apartment to help her. Little does he know that he’s now tangeled himself in with those of the other London, the people that fall through the cracks. He must join Door and her comrades including the Marquis de Carabas and the Hunter in an adventure to escape the clutches of Mr Coup and Mr Vandemar, two characters that revel in murder and causing pain who have been hired to kidnap door by an unknown master, as well as find out who killed Door’s family…
“Richard wrote a diary entry in his head.
Dear Diary, he began. On Friday I had a job, a fiancée, a home, and a life that made sense. (Well, as much as any life makes sense). Then I found an injured girl bleeding on the pavement, and I tried to be a Good Samaritan. Now I’ve got no fiancée, no home, no job, and I’m walking around a couple of hundred feet under the streets of London with the projected life expectancy of a suicidal fruitfly.”
I personally loved the storyline and failed to predict the twist and turns the plot took, the ending I felt was slightly ‘that’s been done before’ but I realise the book was published in 1996 and so any stories I have read that use similar plots may have been copies of this very prolific book. The very end with Richard and his decision of London above/below I found to be obvious but the story is written from his point of view and so over the course of the book it’s easy to begin to see Richard’s point of view and decision making process.
My personal favourite character is probably the Marquis de Carabas due to the way he’s described, and his actions throughout that make you wonder if you can ever truly trust his character or if he’s in it for personal gain. I also loved the descriptions of Mr Coup and Mr Vandemar just as pure villians that delight in killing, some of their conversations are hilarious to the reader as Mr Coup attempts to speak in a literary manner whilst Mr Vandemar purely takes things at face value often replying with humerous answers to rhetorical questions.
“If you cut us, do we not bleed?’ Mr. Vandemar pondered this for a moment, in the dark. Then he said with perfect accuracy, ‘No.”
The story is set throughout London and constantly refers to Landmarks and in particular tube stations, as an avid tube goer (is that a word) I loved this aspect of the books as I know next time i’m on the tube i’m going to be thinking about the storyline in particular references to phrases such as ‘mind the gap’ on the platform. My particular favourite part of this was the literal characterisation of the stations with the Angel named Islington and the Seven Sisters etc. these were humerous plays on the names
Overall I would definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone especially if you want to be a writer as Gaiman writes in such a unique and easy to read style so that characters are easy to imagine. I could write more but this is a summary.
Sidenote: There is a series of the same name from the BBC both as a TV show and Radio Show, I haven’t seen the radio show yet but the TV show, although good (I watched it upon the completion of the book) shouldn’t be watched before the show as the characters to me didn’t personify enough their descriptions.