Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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.

Characters:

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.”

Location

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.

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My Summer reading list

My Summer reading list:

All descriptions from goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/)

 

  • Admissions → Henry Marsh

Following the publication of Do No Harm, Dr. Henry Marsh retired from his position at a hospital in London. But his career continued, taking him to remote hospitals in places such as Nepal and Pakistan, where he offers his services as surgeon and teacher to those in need. Now, Marsh considers the challenges of working in those difficult conditions, alongside the challenges of putting a career of fifty years behind you and finding further purpose in life and work..

  • The Thing Around Your Neck → Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In her most intimate and seamlessly crafted work to date, Adichie turns her penetrating eye on not only Nigeria but America, in twelve dazzling stories that explore the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.

  • All about love → Bell Hooks

In eleven concise chapters, hooks explains how our everyday notions of what it means to give and receive love often fail us, and how these ideals are established in early childhood. She offers a rethinking of self-love (without narcissism) that will bring peace and compassion to our personal and professional lives, and asserts the place of love to end struggles between individuals, in communities, and among societies. Moving from the cultural to the intimate, hooks notes the ties between love and loss and challenges the prevailing notion that romantic love is the most important love of all.

  • Desert Solitaire → Edward Abbey

Abbey vividly captures the essence of his life during three seasons as a park ranger in southeastern Utah. This is a rare view of a quest to experience nature in its purest form — the silence, the struggle, the overwhelming beauty. But this is also the gripping, anguished cry of a man of character who challenges the growing exploitation of the wilderness by oil and mining interests, as well as by the tourist industry.

  • The Emperor’s Children → Claire Messud

There is beautiful, sophisticated Marina Thwaite—an “It” girl finishing her first book; the daughter of Murray Thwaite, celebrated intellectual and journalist—and her two closest friends from Brown, Danielle, a quietly appealing television producer, and Julius, a cash-strapped freelance critic. The delicious complications that arise among them become dangerous when Murray’s nephew, Frederick “Bootie” Tubb, an idealistic college dropout determined to make his mark, comes to town. As the skies darken, it is Bootie’s unexpected decisions—and their stunning, heartbreaking outcome—that will change each of their lives forever.

  • The Deptford Trilogy → Robertson Davies

Who killed Boy Staunton?

Around this central mystery is woven a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived trilogy of novels. Luring the reader down labyrinthine tunnels of myth, history, and magic, The Deptford Trilogy provides an exhilarating antidote to a world from where “the fear and dread and splendour of wonder have been banished.”

  • The Secret History → Donna Tartt

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao → Junot Díaz

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú — the ancient curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still dreaming of his first kiss, is only its most recent victim – until the fateful summer that he decides to be its last.

  • The Rachel Papers → Martin Amis

In his uproarious first novel Martin Amis, author of the bestselling London Fields, gave us one of the most noxiously believable — and curiously touching — adolescents ever to sniffle and lust his way through the pages of contemporary fiction. On the brink of twenty, Charles High-way preps desultorily for Oxford, cheerfully loathes his father, and meticulously plots the seduction of a girl named Rachel — a girl who sorely tests the mettle of his cynicism when he finds himself falling in love with her

  • Even Cowgirls Get the Blues → Tom Robbins

Starring Sissy Hanshaw–flawlessly beautiful, almost. A small-town girl with big-time dreams and a quirk to match–hitchhiking her way into your heart, your hopes, and your sleeping bags…Featuring Bonanza Jellybean and the smooth-riding cowgirls of Rubber Rose Ranch. Chink, lascivious guru of yams and yang. Julian, Mohawk by birth; asthmatic esthete and husband by disposition. Dr. Robbins, preventive psychiatrist and reality instructor…

  • Lunar Park → Bret Easton Ellis

Bret Ellis, the narrator of Lunar Park, is a writer whose first novel Less Than Zero catapulted him to international stardom while he was still in college. In the years that followed he found himself adrift in a world of wealth, drugs, and fame, as well as dealing with the unexpected death of his abusive father. After a decade of decadence a chance for salvation arrives; the chance to reconnect with an actress he was once involved with, and their son. But almost immediately his new life is threatened by a freak sequence of events and a bizarre series of murders that all seem to connect to Ellis’s past. His attempts to save his new world from his own demons makes Lunar Park Ellis’s most suspenseful novel.

  • The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton →Anne Sexton

From the joy and anguish of her own experience, Sexton fashioned poems that told truths about the inner lives of men and women. This book comprises Sexton’s ten volumes of verse, including the Pulitzer Prize-winner Live or Die, as well as seven poems from her last years.

  • Ask the Passengers → A.S. King

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions–like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

 

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

  • Code Name Verity → Elizabeth Wein

I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine – and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

 

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France – an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

  • Shatter Me →Tahereh Mafi

I have a curse

I have a gift

 

I am a monster

I’m more than human

 

My touch is lethal

My touch is power

 

I am their weapon

I will fight back

 

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

 

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

 

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

 

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

 

The art of being normal

I have literally just finished this book and what can I say.. I need more book, I need to know more about what the characters go on to do. I need to know about Leo and Kate… Aw the feels

I saw this book on my Amazon recommendations and I don’t know what compelled me to but I added to basket and brought it..after reading the first chapters online afterwards I waited for the book to arrive. My excitement was not wasted; I started reading the book this morning and in around 3 hours I finished it. The story and characters hook you and the plot twists aren’t as expected at all.

Williamson manages to write a book about gender and identity without the obvious storyline and makes the reader question their own judgements:

Reading Leo’s perspective for half the book it isn’t until you find out some of his secrets that you think how they don’t make up who he is, merely an aspect of it. This reflects well into the theme of the book and the storyline really does emphasis the question of what is “normal” and someone’s gender not defining them.

This book has left me speechless to try and explain how it draws you in and teaches you a lesson you didn’t even know you needed… Just read the book and thank me later

Also if you read the book:

https://www.change.org/p/ealing-studios-make-a-film-from-the-book-the-art-of-being-normal