Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
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Cannonball Read V: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

By TrasannotTarzan | Book Reviews | May 9, 2013 | Comments ()


I chose Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere for my third Cannonball read. I thought I was purchasing the audiobook version, when in fact, iTunes tricked me into purchasing the e-book version. I didn't even know you could buy e-books through iTunes. A word of caution: don't attempt to buy a book on your phone while sitting in traffic.

Neverwhere was apparently Gaiman's first solo novel, and others have said that you can clearly see that Gaiman is still making the transition from comics and screenplays to the more respectable form of novels. I find these thoughts to be pretentious and ridiculous. I've read (and watched) plenty of Gaiman's other works, and I instantly recognize the style and tone as Gaiman's. Perhaps I'm uncultured swine, but it all reads the same to me. Neverwhere is actually a novelization of the television series of the same name, in case you wanted to know. I haven't seen it, but after reading the book, I would like to.

The book opens with Richard Mayhew, an average young man, working an average job, living an average life in London. On his way to dinner with his pushy fiancée, they come across a young girl splayed out on the pavement, bleeding and weak. Richard chooses to help the girl, picking her up and taking her back to his apartment instead of going on to dinner to meet his fiancé's boss.

This single act of kindness throws into motion an entire chain of events, which are a bit spoiler-y if I really get into it. In short, Richard suddenly finds himself in world he never knew existed - London Below. In sewer tunnels, abandoned tube stations and the occasional roof top is a world darker, dangerous and much stranger than he ever imagined.

London Below is a city of shadows, of people, places and times that have "fallen through the cracks." The world building, in my opinion, is full of potential. Admittedly, I would have liked to learn more about how society in London Below functions, the further details of certain customs and exactly how London Below came to be. Frequently I found myself more interested in the back stories of minor characters than that of the protagonist, Richard Mayhew. Again, so much potential, but I wish the author had taken more time to thoroughly explore the world he created. I would happily spend another dozen or so books adventuring through London, New York, Tokyo or even New Delhi Below.

I will admit that I'm probably being picky. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, and like all his works, I found Neverwhere a treat to read. A wonderful fantasy adventure, though probably not a classic. I would recommend the book to any Gaiman fan that hasn't read it yet, and anyone else in the market for a good fantasy romp.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read V. Read all about it , and find more of TrasannotTarzan's reviews on the group blog.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the affiliate linksin this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • TheOriginalMRod

    One of my favorites. Which is hard for me to say since all of them are some of my favorites. One of my coworkers gave American Gods only 2 stars on Goodreads and I considered punching him in the face. But he said it was because he didn't always know the gods he was talking about.

    The audio book is pretty fabulous (Neverwhere that is) especially the one Gaiman reads, he has a really great voice.

  • TraceAndM

    Thank you for publishing my review. It has effectively shamed me into picking up all the slack with my Cannonballing. I've been reading, but not reviewing. For shame.

  • mswas

    Great job anyway!

  • KingEntropy

    The graphic novel adaptation by Mike Carey (Lucifer, The Unwritten) and Glenn Fabry (Preacher) is excellent.

    Also, fun fact, Clive Russell ("Blackfish" Tully in Game of Thrones) played the brutish Mr. Vandemar in the BBC series.

  • Steph

    It's not pretentious to say this feels like a transition from comics to novels, it does. The writing style is efficient but kind of thin, like it needs a visual accompaniment to flesh it out. I feel this way about most of his novels, the exception being the Graveyard Book because it's structured as a series of short stories which is what he's best at.

  • TraceAndM

    Forgive me. Perhaps what I meant to say better is that there's a certain pretentious tone that certain people affect that occasionally comes across that Neverwhere is less than, simply because it's his first foray into more traditional storytelling.

  • Mariazinha

    I LOVED the BBC radio show of this.. :)

  • Maya

    I love Neil much that I'm willing to overlook the fact that he's married to the awful Amanda Palmer.

  • Deidra

    In that case, maybe he knows something that you don't, considering he's the one married to her.

    Gaiman's are the most well-worn and well-loved of my book collection. Well done, Trasan!

  • Maya


  • annie

    I've had a copy of this for a long time but never actually got past the first page. I heard he wrote this because he wasn't entirelyhappy with the limitations of making the TV series. The radio play adaptation is glorious, though, and I'm actually listening to it for probably the 7th time right now. It would be nice to find out more about the inner workings or the history of London Below, though.

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