Neverwhere

“Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.”

Neil Gaiman has been getting a lot of press lately, since his book American Gods was chosen as the first for an online Twitter book club, 1 Book 1 Twitter. I haven’t read American Gods yet, but I thought it was about time that I write about the last book of his I did read, Neverwhere.

Neverwhere was originally written as a tv series for the BBC in the 90s. According to Neil’s prologue to my copy, there were things that he wrote which were cut from the final script for the show. And so he wrote the “author’s preferred text,” which is what I read.

The plot is extremely interesting. The idea is that there’s a whole world under London (under many large cities) and that it’s made up of the people that our society tries to make invisible. But one man, Richard, crosses that line when he rescues a girl called Door.

Once you’ve gone into London Below, you can’t come back.

It’s an adventure story, with unique characters and interesting twists. Gaiman uses well known London landmarks in clever ways. This is Gaiman’s genius - he makes his stories believable. There’s a subtlety to Gaiman’s writing that you don’t often see in fantasy books. Usually, fantasy novels try so hard to create this elaborate world and spend a great deal of the book describing it in great detail to prove it to you (Hello, Tolkein!) Neil Gaiman doesn’t need to do this. His worlds are believable in a much more simple and eloquent way.

I also watched the miniseries. It was very similar to the book, and it was enjoyable. But the 90s style of it was a bit distracting.

“‘You’ve a good heart,’ she told him. ‘Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go.’ Then she shook her head. ‘But mostly, it’s not.’”

“He continued, slowly, by a process of osmosis and white knowledge (which is like white noise, only more informative), to comprehend the city…”

“…and she would whisper to him how much she loved him, and he would tell her he loved her and always wanted to be with her, and they both believed it to be true.”

There are some other quotes I flagged but when I reread them they seemed to give away too much of the plot, so I think you should just read it for yourself.

4 Comments

  • By Eleni, May 13, 2010 @ 9:29 am

    …Not to say that the ability to imagine and create an elaborate Other world very different from our own isn’t its own kind of genius.

    I’ve had Neverwhere on my Amazon “to buy later” list for a while. You’d recommend I buy now?

  • By Wangari M., May 13, 2010 @ 11:28 am

    I really want to read this book now, I have a few friends who love Gaiman but never really got into his work. This post just changed that!

  • By Emily Jane, May 13, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

    I had about 20 tabs open in my reader this morning and I HAD to go to yours first - Neverwhere is my favourite book of all time!! I LOVE Neil Gaiman - his imagination is incredible. He came here in December and it was like a dream come true. You’ll love American Gods! Have you read Anansi Boys? I really hope they’ll update Neverwhere for the big screen - Stardust turned out fabulously, as did Coraline!

  • By Hezabelle, May 14, 2010 @ 5:31 am

    Eleni - DEFINITELY buy it. It’s wonderful. Then watch the mini series and laugh!

    Wangari - Definitely read Neverwhere, but Stardust is still my fav Neil Gaiman book!

    Emily - I love him too! I’ve only read Stardust, Fragile Things and Neverwhere so far, but I do really want to read both Anansi Boys and American Gods. I’m also going to try to read the Sandman series this summer! Have you read that?

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