I couldn't be happier this week is over. For me school has been so hectic and it's so relaxing to just read. No? Just me then? Oh well. This week I carried along with me Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Here's an synopsis provided by Goodreads:
When Richard Mayhew stops one day to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London pavement, his life is forever altered, for he finds himself propelled into an alternative reality that exists in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He has fallen through the cracks of reality and has landed somewhere different, somewhere that is Neverwhere.
Reference:No one recommended this book or author to me at first, I unknowingly was first introduced to Gaiman's work years ago when my mom rented the movie Stardust from Blockbuster. Then a couple of years later Coraline came out and my best friend recommended his book. I wasn't a fan of the movie but I did want to give his work a try, so I figured I'd read another book of his to get a third opinion. Plus I love London so when I saw Big Ben Clock Tower on the cover I knew it was meant to be. Well, here are my thoughts:
(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
I've never read a book like this. *clears throat* Allow me to be redundant on this occasion por favor, because I have never read a book like this. Neil Gaiman is a visionary. Fantastic writer. I suppose I don't over stress myself enough when I say that this my first urban fantasy novel and even though I can't even name another urban fantasy title, I would like to say they'd be as great as Neverwhere. (Not even by a long shot every book is different Nicole!) :P At first I imagined this story set centuries back, but then Gaiman would mention a piece of technology not necessarily contemporary to 2013, such as telephone or black taxi (I'm not from London I don't know if they use these still), yet late-twentieth century related. I would be brought back to the fact that Richard was living through this in my lifetime and I like to imagine that when I was young, Richard was living this adventure.
Gaiman knows how to write a story. Boy he can and he knows how to separate himself from the pack. How he delivers his characters through dialogue to the descriptions of setting to just his use of words overall (check out my quotes below as examples). The pacing was jolty I have to admit, if I put the book down, there wasn't a constant feeling in the back of my mind to stop what I was doing to continue on the adventure. And this adventure, it was filled with action so I'm sad that that's true. There's hardly a slow moment for Richard and his companions, yet sometimes how Gaiman went on describing the slow moments of the story I had to--sad to say--force myself to continue. Not as horrible as I felt while reading Howl's Moving Castle, but still I would peek ahead a page to see if there'd be more interesting scenes.
His style of writing is one I try to do in my own writing (before reading this) but utterly fail at. What do I mean by that? Well, many of his sentences can be long, but cut in short segments. It makes it sound like he's dragging the story but he actually does the opposite. I can imagine Gaiman narrating as well as imagine Richard thinking the words. It actually helped the story flow faster. Colloquial language in the story makes it more realistic and in an urban fantasy, it can be hard to pull off. I tip my hat to Mr. Gaiman.
I tend to like the main character because they're the eyes and ears and hands I have to live the story through, and Richard is one character I have to say I absolutely loved living through. He grew from page 1 all the way to page 370 and his chemistry with the other characters was effortless. They all accepted him--well minus the bad guys--and made him one of them when he began to feel like he didn't have a place anywhere. He had several quirky comical moments and it made me love him even more. I'm just naturally a comical person if you know me, and when I read about one I just feel a familial bond with them. It helped me notice his growth through the story.
The story picked up for me about half way to three-quarters of the way through. Even though I keep saying how amazing it was, it's a slow amazing. Mr. Gaiman revealed secrets that I wasn't expecting (and I don't think I'm the only one who liked to always guess about characters and their motives), so it's always a good twist to have them. The themes in the story were compassion, sacrifice, and being where you feel you belong, really resonate well to me as the reader to really examine where I am and where others are in the world. Sometimes it's important to focus on others over yourself and it may be difficult or inconvenient sometimes to do it, but in the end, it's how you felt while helping or realizing others around you that will help you grow. This book is definitely a favorite of mine, sorry I don't mean to get all philosophical or whatnot but there hasn't been a book I've read in a
long time (partially true...I read Cloud Atlas recently and it was a real life-provoking book too; I recommend that book as well) a while that's really made me think about how I'm living my life. Mr. Gaiman, you are officially one of my favorite authors.
I give this book 4.5/5 stars. I was half way between stars for this one. I really enjoyed this book and I wanted to give it 5 stars, but there was the problem of pacing for me and lack of unable-to-put-down-this-book feeling. So I deducted half a star. But nevertheless, amazing book, would definitely recommend. :0)
"...I pointed out that trying to find something with an angel on it in here is going to be like trying to find a needle in an oh my God it's Jessica."
― Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere
"How old are you?" asked Door.
"As old as my tongue," said Hunter, primly, "and a little older than my teeth."
-Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere
If You'd Like to Check out my Goodreads:
Next To Read:
Her Mad Hatter by Marie Hall
River Song's Spoiler's:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
Alright, please tell me someone else wondered about Anaesthesia after she disappeared 100 or so pages in. Like I kept waiting for her to magically reappear sometime in the book or have some clarity about what happened to her. She was a likeable character but maybe Gaiman thought her just a weak, sidetrack character. Or maybe she was the "reality/Above London" part of Richard, and after she disappeared it was when he became a true Lower London citizen.
Something I loved about Gaiman was how he incorporated a ton of other stories into Neverwhere. For example, I caught on to the similarities between this story and The Wizard of Oz way before Gaiman mentioned it near the end-- and I felt so smart! ;) If someone was reading alongside me I would've put my book to their face (not rudely!) and be like "I knew it! Didn't I tell you? Yes I did!" Well, except for the twist at the end of the angel being evil and all. Or the monster in the labyrinth-- how about that Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur? Seriously, there were so many stories in this story, I felt like I was reading more than one story at once and it made this story, truly fantastic. (So sorry to use story 4x in one sentence-- I will try to not do that again...)
Islington is an interesting name for an angel and I wish I could ask Gaiman why he chose it. As an angel, I probably shouldn't have been so surprised about him being evil. I mean, why was he separated from Heaven in the first place? He may act nice and all but, I think it should've been something I caught earlier.
A trait I liked about this story was the emphasis on adventure over romance and characterization over cliche/cheesiness. Gaiman gave each of the characters a life beneath the words. They were all consistent and none of their actions surprised me (well except Islington of course! and then Hunter...) okay maybe some weren't as consistent as I'd like but Hunter did it to kill the beast, she was more consistent than Islington. I usually am a sucker for cheesy romance (though I admit it can be overdone quite a lot), but I felt as I read this there was firstly no need for it, and secondly it was such a great tale of an adventure I didn't miss it. I'm still thinking about this story several hours after reading this so sorry I'm so repetitive.
Serpentine. Chapter eighteen was probably my least favorite chapter. I don't care about the length of it (it was like 3 pages), but it was unnecessary. Please tell me someone agrees with me? Yeah it gave more of a look into the relationship between Serpentine and Hunter, but she was dead, their relationship was pretty much finito. Maybe I'm missing something like Gaiman decided to continue on with Hunter and Serpentine's story in another novel, but I think it should have ended with Hunter's death next to the bull monster. If he wanted to randomly establish the whereabouts about someone, it should have been Anaesthesia. Sorry, I feel her death/disappearance was too sudden and subtle that I didn't give her a proper farewell like I had with Islington and Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar.
I would love to read another of Gaiman's novels and wonder what you think I should read next of his? I can't decide between American Gods or The Graveyard Book. Cheers.
Until Next Time,