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You know that feeling you get when you're walking along and you're SURE that someone has just spoken, or brushed past you but you look and there's no one there; or perhaps that chill that runs up and down your spine when you're SURE you're not alone but again, there's no one there; or perhaps you were sure you were just saying something to someone but you've forgotten what it was and to who because there's just...well, there's no one there! Yes, I've had that feeling, and until I read Neverwhere I just couldn't explain it./ Now though, thanks to the genius of Neil Gaiman, it's perfectly clear.
Richard Mayhew is a pretty boring, average human being. Moving from Scotland to London, he finds himself oppressed by a fiancee who loves her status more than she loves him; a job where he is made fun of rather than appreciated, mainly by his 'best mate'; and generally not much of a direction about him, so much so that he forgets even the simplest of things. A bit wet, Richard is then an unlikely hero when out for a crucial dinner date where he is about to meet fiancee Jessica's high powered businessman father when a strange girl falls unconscious on the pavement in front of them. Eever keen to do 'the right thing', Richard refuses to continue, insisting on helping the girl to somewhere she can be looked after, even at the expense of his relationship on such a crucial evening.
Thus ensues a strange situation where the girl, Door (short for Doreen, apparently) proves top have eccentric capabilities. When the creepy and dangerous Messrs Croup and Vandemar come looking for Door at Richard's flat, the two of them narrowly escape, and following the girl's weird ability to transport them from place to place through any old door, Richard must suspend belief entirely as he enters the world of London Below, where everyone and everything is unseen by those in London Above. In short, there co-exists an entirely separate world right on top of ours, where various London Underground stations are actually people (there actually IS an Angel called Islington; the Black Friars are important Below Guardians and Hammersmith can make you anything with his hammer and anvil - what a genius), people called Rat People talk to rats who are particularly intelligent and helpful creatures and there is a great conspiracy with a villain who is as yet undisclosed but wants to capture Door. Richard is sucked in, a weak minded man persuaded by a lot of nonsense that's just, well...not nonsense at all.
A work of science fiction genius, Neil Gaiman has said that he had immense fun creating and editing all of the various characters and locations in the book. Although he essentially takes a lot of existing London places and either makes them more glamorous or uses them as characters. Mayhew is portrayed as a weak minded man, but is really no different in his daily life to you or me. A normal person, made to seem inferior by an imaginative world where everything is possible. Turning into a hero to save Door, he gets himself involved in her survival, and by helping her he becomes one of the people from London Below. No one from Above sees or hears him properly, his old life disintegrates before his eyes and he finds himself on an incredible journey with incredible characters underneath the streets of London. Gaiman does his homework well with the geography. Clear research has been done but with a heavy dose of literary discretion to twists and turn common elements and historical derelicts into something that works for his tale.
Originally published in 1997, this is a more recent reprint with a few changes. This is one of a few of his works where he has published his 'chosen text'; that is, not necessarily that which ended up being published after the original editors had their way. We get an informative foreword where he describes his feelings about the book, the editing, and the fact that Neverwhere was initially only ever supposed to be a TV show script. Initially used as this, the book was published shortly after, although the editing interfered with how Gaiman actually wanted it. One of the most interesting things about this reprint is how he explains the main villains, Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar, who are time hopping murderers for hire who have powers that go beyond normal human ability. They remind me of the two Messrs from one of the Bond films, although I can't quite remember which one; and Gaiman's occasional literary sarcasm makes them at once hated and admired.
This is just one example of some of the glorious characters in the book. There are creatures, humans, creepy semi-alive characters such as the Velvets (who remind me of the Sirens of Greek Mythology); magical bodyguards such as Hunter and the enigmatic and occasionally heroic Marquis de Carabas, one of Door's adventuring party owes her a favour and is calling to collect. It's things like favours, the Floating Market Truce, Down Street (which just keeps going down and down), and tokens and omens which can help you get from place to place, that make me think there is just no end to Neverwhere and the Land of London Below and the hidden differences between our world and theirs. I'd dearly love Gaiman to write a sequel. In the Q&A at the end of his book, he even suggests that were he to do this, he'd go and explore other Undergrounds in the world, such as Tokyo or New York. The thought of this makes me REALLY want him to write this, and I think that feeling is indicative of just how much I enjoyed reading this.
It's brilliant. You have to go with the flow and let the author explain his creative places and characters in the detail he sees fit. It reads as an adventure with no specific end, different tasks within the plot appearing and disappearing from time to time, while we try to find out what happened to Door's family and wonder whether Richard is doomed to a life as a Below citizen never to return to his old life. the character are wonderful, it'll make you smile regularly, and you'll want to go and grab another Gaiman book straight away. So recommended I can't describe it. I'm off to watch the TV adaptation.
Quite guiltily, I'll admit I have found Neil Gaiman's work to be quite hit and miss. It probably didn't help that Anansi Boys was the first of his adult books I came across, and that's pretty damn hard to top to say the least!
However, Neverwhere has made it back up there with Anansi Boys, with that ever fumbling hero somehow making it through a crazy voyage alive, and all the more likable through it. As always, the protagonist is human, very ordinary, even a little boring, but at that all the more believable;
Richard Mayhew is very ordinary, but when the good deed of rescuing a injured stranger from her attackers costs him is engagement, Richard finds that to the people around him, he no longer exists. Managing to track down the mysterious stranger, a girl named Door, Richard is plunged into the dark and dirty world of London Below, a labyrinth of bizarre people that time and modern law forgot, on the tails of a very nasty murderer, as Door attempts to uncover why her family has been killed. With many colourful characters, some monsters, and some very comical yet very dangerous hit men, Neverwhere is a rollercoaster of oddity, which makes the London everyone sees seem boring. I want to be a tourist in London above!
A definite page turner; I am really pleased that I finally got hold of a copy and took the time to read it! I can't wait for what Neil Gaiman produces next!!
It all started back in 1997. Neverwhere was, originally, a BBC urban fantasy type TV series, created by Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry. It was really quite a popular series at the end of the day, but Neil felt that there wasn't enough of the story in the series and decided to keep note of all the cuts, to add to his book adaptation, which was released shortly after.
The plot follows Richard Mayhew, a pretty average Scot living in London, who one day encounters an injured girl and distinctly strange named Door on the streets. Despite his fiancee's protests he helps her out, but it appears that no good deed goes unpunished. Richard ceases to exist to the people he once knew, becoming invisible to them, and loses his house, job and fiancee because of it.
It becomes apparent to him that the only people who can still see him are the residents of London Below, a strange civilization who Door is a part of. Normally the residents of London Above (the normal London we all know) can't see them, but somehow Door opened up a portal and accidentally let Richard through. It turns out underneath London is a whole new parallel world, which Richard is only just discovering.
The story was really original and pretty cool. I remember enjoying the show, but probably not as as much as I did the book. Maybe it was because I was a bit younger back when I watched it, but Neil Gaiman really brings out all the depth and emotions that couldn't really be shown on screen. As a written piece it works even better, mixing in Gaiman's typical mystical and magical style to what was already something incredibly good. It's all about the mind-pictures the author paints, and leave much more up to your imagination, thus making the world of London Below seemingly endless.
Overall, it's a really good book, and reads just as smoothly if you've seen the series or not. Fantastic for those looking for something new, or trying to "break" into the weird world of the dream king Neil Gaiman
'Neverwhere' is a fantasy fiction book by English author Neil Gaiman. He originally wrote it as a television mini-series broadcast in the mid 1990's, but as he explains in the book's introduction, he wasn't completely satisfied with this, and so adapted it into a novel. Gaiman is also author of 'Stardust' and 'Coraline' both of which have been made into successful movies.
'Neverwhere' centres around Richard Mayhew, a Scot who now lives and works in London. He lives a fairly run-of-the-mill life, lives in a modest flat, works in an office, and is engaged to the highly-strung Jessica. His mundane life takes a peculiar turn when he comes to the rescue of a bloody and bruised young woman called Door. After meeting Door (who has the knack of opening any locked door she wishes), Richard finds himself trapped in the world of London Below; a mysterious city that lies beneath 'London Above', where rats are in positions of power (this explains the huge image of a rat on the book's cover), and all sorts of shady characters dwell.
Door's family have recently been murdered so with her bodyguard Hunter, family acquaintance The Marquis de Carabas, and Richard all tagging along, she sets out to find the angel Islington who can unearth the reason behind their death.
The best aspect of 'Neverwhere' is the fantastic characters; Richard is just an average bloke who deals with his bizarre situation in a way that most of us would; he brings a sense of normality to the otherwise extraordinary circumstances. Door, although meek and dainty is the perfect heroine, and Hunter was the most fascinating character for me; a strong, mysterious, beautiful woman with a secret to hide.
Gaiman writes with great warmth and humour and even the villains are likeable despite their horrid acts of violence, and I especially enjoyed his vivid descriptions which really brought London Below to life. I would recommend 'Neverwhere' to adult Harry Potter fans; the writing reminded me very much of JK Rowling's style (albeit with a little bit more gore and stronger language). Also I think Londoners would enjoy the book as Gaiman very cleverly writes about areas, museums, and tube stations, which all take on slightly alternative appearances in London Below.
The book is 372 pages long, and if you purchase the author's preferred text, you can also read an alternative prologue to the story, an interview with the author, and discussion questions for reading groups. The RRP is £7.99 but it's currently available on www.amazon.co.uk for £4.79.
Overall I really enjoyed the book, and even though London Below seems like a grim, dangerous place, I wouldn't mind visiting...just for a little while.
Neverwhere, a novel by Neil Gaiman, is the novelisation of the TV of the same name which he co-wrote. I've never actually seen the TV series, so I can't say how similar they are, but Wikipedia states that the plot and characters are pretty much the same apart from some minor changes which were made in the film from the original script. And obviously, in a novel there is much more room to explain characters thoughts, and other things which you can't film.
Richard Mayhew is a young business man who has just moved to London to get ahead in his career. He has a good job, an overly perfect fiancé, a good set of friends and a life he is happy with. And then he meets Door, a young girl who falls at his feet, covered in blood, out of nowhere. And he decides to help her. Door is from London below, an alternative London, parallel with the one we know, full of the people who got lost, fell through the cracks. After helping door he finds himself unable to carry on with his previous life. No one he knows recognises him, the house he is renting gets sold whilst he's still living in it. He can think of no alternative but to try and find Door. He soon finds than life with Door is much more dangerous than he expected, and more interesting, and certainly very bizarre. Door is being hunted by two assassins who seem to have killed her whole family. Being left only with the skill to open any doors, from and to anywhere, Door, with the help of Richard and Hunter, must travel through London Below to try and find her families killer, and why they were killed, before Richard can attempt to go back to his normal life.
I love the world that Neil Gaiman has created in this book, like London, but not. It incorporates famous landmarks and places you've heard of in London as something completely different. Knightsbridge is a perilous bridge that Richard has to cross to find Door, travelling through the night where many loose their lives. The black friars are three monks and the angel Islington is a real angel. It kind of reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, with Richard falling through the rabbit hole, but as you've heard of the places, or been to them, it's very easier to relate to.
There are also some very fantastic characters in this book, with Richard at the centre, who, being very normal, makes them seem all the more amazing. Door is a young girl who's trying to do her best in the worst situation she could find herself in. Although she is shown as a young girl and ought to be quite fragile, she is much stronger and braver than Richard at every turn. There are also some pretty great characters that make fleeting appearances, i love the Velvets, and there's quite a lot that you don't ever really find out too much about, but you can assume they're definitely up to no good.
This book isn't too long, it's fast paced and always interesting. I read it wondering what parts of London would come up, and when one was mentioned i'd try to guess how it would be changed, although i never did manage to. Read this if you like fantasy books, but as this is based on a London that people know, it is very accessible, even if fantasy isn't usually your thing.
Neverwhere is a slightly strange, but ultimately interesting novel set in London. Here, however, there are two London's - our 'normal' London, where the main character, Richard Mayhew, begins as a typical run-of-the-mill Londoner with an office job in the city, and 'London Below', the connected but hidden underworld peopled by weird and wonderful characters such as The Angel 'Islington', Velvets, and the Rat-speakers. Usually the two worlds are separate, but by helping a girl called Door, Richard falls into London Below and starts his hero's quest, joining Door to discover who killed her father and how he can return to London Above - all the time while trying to avoid a couple of rather nasty assassins tracking them.
Richard Mayhew is the reluctant hero, dragged into a bewildering world that seems like his normal London, but isn't - and he can't quite help himself from trying to base everything on what he knows from his 'real' London. Unfortunately for him, what is reality Above is not necessarily true of London Below, and the rest of the motley travellers he journeys with through the book tend, therefore, to regard him as rather foolish (which many of his comments are), but, of course, he proves vital to the quest and grows as a person through his trials.
Door, the other main character, is a youngish girl who has inherited the ability to open any kind of lock or door; a very handy skill as the group travel through London Below and try to avoid the evil that follows them. She remains calm and collected throughout and is likeable, although I did feel we didn't get to know her that well. It has to be said that this book is certainly not a character-study and the characters probably could have been better rounded, but we know enough about them and their motives for the story to flow and for us to be wholly rooting for their cause.
I personally loved this book. It was fairly easy reading, and its 387 pages gave enough room for a good storyline to develop. As I said, the characters could have been better developed, but perhaps this would have detracted from the flow of the story. The locations and events were colourfully and imaginatively described and, having lived in London, I particularly enjoyed all the alternative reasons the author had dreamt up for things in London - such as the Underground announcement of 'Mind the Gap' warning you about the smoky shadows living on the Underground platforms in London Below that will grab unwary travellers who step too close. The locations all tied in cleverly and often amusingly (I like the idea of actual Friars still living in Blackfriars) and the writing style was witty and light-hearted throughout. The storyline moved on at a good pace, and the question of who Richard and Door could trust and the identities of the ultimate bad guys (and their motives) kept me guessing pretty much up to the end, which I liked.
Being essentially a fantasy novel, Neverwhere is unlikely to appeal to those who favour realistic books, but for those who like the wryly witty style of 'Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy' this book will no doubt appeal. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I have had a lot of college work so haven't been here for over 6 weeks, but I'm back and I'm sure I shall keep up this reviewing!
Neil Gaiman is an inspirational author, in my opinion! He can make something that is totally normal into something extra-ordinary which leaves you wanting more. I have read only 1 other book from Neil Gaiman which is called "The Graveyard Book", but I have a few others such as "Odd and the Frost Giants" and "American Gods", which I cannot wait to actually finish as they keep on making me eager to read them. Neil Gaiman is such a good author and I really suggest that some of you should dip into his works as they are simply brilliant!
This book should have been my first Neil Gaiman book to read, because a reviewer on here suggested that I read some Neil Gaiman books, and dip into this one first to get a feel for his sort of writing. However I'm sort of glad that I ended up reading "the Graveyard book" first as this book wouldn't give me much of a feeling for Neil Gaiman books and definitely stands out from his other books as it isn't the same based on the chapters which I shall explain later on!
This story is unique, you follow a man called Richard Mayhew, who is kind and nice to everyone and anyone, its morals; right? Anyhow after 1 act of kindness spins his life out of control, and he becomes part the "Neverwhere" the world beneath the streets of London, that no one knows about. But even if his act of kindness didn't happen then he'd still end up down there anyhow as its part of his destiny and he is needed down there!
I know my little story outline sounds not so good, but the blurb (back of the book) is all the same and really small, however no one could possibly hype this book up enough because this book is made up on a short story line but it's utterly brilliant. This book does stand out from Neil Gaiman's crowd of books as these chapters aren't so long... For example there is "The Graveyard Book" which only has 8 chapters in PLUS an interlude, which really annoyed me, not only that but there is also "American Gods" which has 20 chapters in and 527 pages, so most of his books are utterly brilliant but really slow going because of the massive chapters that can really annoy some readers. However this book has none of the long chapters in and that is a good thing as it's easier and quicker to finish in my opinion I think!
I can't think of much more to say, so I reckon I need a little help to get back into my usual style of reviewing, it has been nearly 2 months since my last review, anyhow I'm back and need just a few pointers here and there, I thank you all for reading and wish you that you pick up this book and read it the next time you come across it!
This is the first Neil Gaiman novel I have read though I have watched and enjoyed the film of Stardust. It's a bit difficult for me to review this book because I found it so bizarre. Interesting but bizarre which my friends assure me is a perfectly natural reaction to a first dose of Neil Gaiman!
The story is essentially about the 'other' London that exists below the streets of London in the forgotten tube lines and stations and alleyways that have slipped out of our consciousness. The hero, if I can call him that, is a slightly spineless, ordinary young man who has been living and working in London for a few years and is on the verge of being married to his bossy girlfriend Jessica. On his way to meet Jessica's boss, he sees a homeless girl bleeding on the street and insists on taking her home to tend to her much to Jessica's disgust. The girl happens to be Door, the only surviving member of a prominent 'underworld' family whose family has been assassinated and who is on the run from their murderers. Richard gets sucked into her story and her world and somehow finds himself tagging along with her and her companions as they try to identify who ordered her family's assassination. I suppose in essence it is a revenge/ adventure story but the setting and the clever twisting of London history and geography makes it wrong to put it into those genres. I suppose it is a fantasy novel but its close tying into real London makes it a little harder to dismiss as 'fantasy'. I'll certainly never look at Seven Sisters, Angel and Islington stations the same way again!
I loved the clever interpretations of ordinary London names and landmarks and the wordplay in the novel. It would spoil it to give examples but if you enjoy Terry Pratchett's use of language I'm sure you'll like this book. As far as the story itself is concerned, it's interesting enough, if slightly pedestrian, and the surprise at the end isn't really that surprising. It was a bit too dark for me and didn't have enough light relief. But it did hold my attention well enough and I would recommend it (to fantasy fans anyway).
To ardent Neil Gaiman fans, please forgive me if I am being lukewarm about your hero - not every book suits everyone!
I really wanted to like this, and I'm still quite disappointed that I didn't. I had previoulsy read Neil Gaiman's collaboration with Terry Pratchett on Good Omens, and had this reccomended by a few friends so I thought "Why not?"
It's the story of a man who slips into another London. I would give you more details if I had been able to bring myself to care about the characters enough to remember them, but I really couldn't.
The problem is for me the way Gaiman writes in this. The feel I got from it was very much a "I'm going to make a joke, and if you don't get it that's fine because you're probably not smart enough to read my stuff anyway", and even when I got it I found myself resenting him for that.
I've tried other stuff of Gaiman's since this - American Gods, and Sandman - and found them good and funny, it was just this I didn't enjoy. If you're going to try Gaiman, probably start with something else.
The recipe for a Neil Gaiman novel seems to be take a quart of mundane, everday life, add a sprinkling of magic and leave it in a very, very, very dark place for a long long time. Gaiman, who is perhaps best known for his comic/graphic novels such as The Sandman, has more recently ventured into the realms of all-print novels - to great effect. Neverwhere is the story of a mundane, everyday Scot called Richard Mayhew, who lives a mundane, everyday life in London - going to work, becoming engaged to his fairly terrifying girlfriend Jess and generally mooching around. That is until the night he decides to be a good Samaritan... He sees a homeless girl on the street, bleeding and frightened and takes her home -then that the magic starts. The girl, Door, has magical powers (door opening and talking to rats, in the main) and Richard finds himself dragged into her quest for vengeance for the death of her family. This is where the mundane definitely stops, for to help Door Richard must travel with her into London Below. This is the dark and dangerous rotting underbelly of the Capital, consisting of long-forgotten tube train routes and sewers and populated by long-forgotten people who have 'fallen through the cracks' - many of whom are hundreds of years old. Gaiman creates a modern-day quest, addressing many age-old themes such as the meaning of love, life and loss with a charm and humour. Yet this book isn't saccharin or fanciful, it is gritty and dirty and nasty, evoking the essence of London sleaze past and present, with the 'good' characters shining out like glowing pin-pricks in the darkness while the 'bad guys' - superbly described - appearing as stinking sewers sucking out the light. Read this and you will be able to feel the grime beneath your nails, smell the smog in your lungs and taste the raven curry on your tongue. But you will also be carried along by
the narrative, feeling empathy and warmth for the leading characters... and you will be sorry when it comes to an end. Bookends I bought my copy from Waterstones priced 6.99, but you can get it from Amazon for 5.59 at the moment.
I love books. I read books and I work with books and authors. Sometimes a book comes along that I find hard to put down...NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman (normally a graphic novel writer) is one of those, and I finished it in possibly a record time for me. Neverwhere could be described as a cross between CS Lewis and James Herbert. Set in a place called 'London below' (which, strangely enough, is below London) it is about a world where the homeless, disposessed and very different people live - it also covers many different eras and places all at the same time, almost like trans-dimensional malarkey. Normal people do not know about it, nor can they see it or its inhabitants. Our hero, Richard Mayhew, is thrown headlong into London below when he almost unwittingly saves the life of one of its nobility. Pretty soon he fades from London above, becoming a resident of below, and the quest begins to reclaim his place in normality. Along the way he meets a wide range of people, and visits many different places, battles evil and his own sanity, and generally has a pretty odd time. The book is rather clever - all the places in conventional London become people and places in London below. Richard saves the life of Door, of the Portico family (gettit?), who has the ability to open doors. He visits Earl's Court (a court where an Earl lives), Knightsbridge (a very dark bridge), Hammersmith (a very big blacksmith), the Angel Islington (any ideas?). Retrospectively it is all quite obvious, but rather innovative. Neverwhere has a couple of nice twists, and Messers Croup and Vandemar - two of the coolest bad guys I've ever seen. I absolutely loved this book, not least because I work in London, recognised many of the places, and can now sit on the Tube looking out for traces of London below (well, it beats trying to out-stare and unnerve other commuters :) ). It's well written, intelligent and witty, and covers a few
genres, so would be suitable for a range of readers. The BBC did a serialisation of the novel, and a movie is in the pipeline, so watch this space...
Neverwhere is a kind of fun and fantastic adventure through a London we've never seen. It's the London Below, where those who've slipped through the cracks end up, and one man's (he from the "normal" world) journey as he winds up in this world. And despite all the enjoyment with the characters and the wonderful story that takes us everywhere, it's Gaiman's own enjoyment which comes through the pages. One impression I get as a read this book was Neil Gaiman every now and again sitting back while at his computer and laughing at some small element of story or wording or character that came out and how fun it was. Example - while walking through some rather thick London fog, the main character coughs, and says, "Sorry, fog in my throat." Short, funny, and fun. A nice pun that I think had Gaiman laugh for a moment. I think he had a blast writing this book. And those who want to write will love this book. It's inspirational in that it reintroduces you to having fun with the craft of storytelling. Fun with your characters as they surprise you, fun with your setting as you see where it takes you, and fun with your story as you see what happens next. Reading this instantly made me want to run off and write my own stories, merely for the sheer fun of it. Merely to have as much fun as Neil Gaiman seemed to have had with this.
Neverwhere is an interesting book that is based in 'London Below' which is made up from forgotton and ignored areas of London. It is quite a good read with strong elements of the authors humour showing through. The book is identical to the TV programme and was released at the same time. There is little or no additional content, so if thats what you are looking for - don't bother. An enjoyable read, that is made better if you have a knowledge of London. The main character because of a chance encounter with a member of the London Below finds himself ignored and a non person in the main London and has to help a woman find an angel called Islington. Well worth a read.
You might have seen Neverwhere when it was on BBC2 - it was a very cheap-looking fantasy thing set in London. I coudn't watch it because it looked so poor, but a mate of mine did and said it was very good. He enjoyed it so much in fact that he went out and bought the book. Written at the same time as the program was being made, Neverwhere is set in a fictional and mystical underworld based arounf the London Underground. Earl's Court becomes a tube trai with a medieval court on board, Knightsbridge becomes the terrifying Nightsbridge, and the Angel Islington becomes, well, an Angel called Islington. Into this fantasy world is thrown a scotsman who has recently moved to London on business and soon he is fighting for his life while trying to protect a princess in danger... Yes, you heard me right, it's all based around tube stations. It's actually a very obvious idea when you think about it, and Gaiman has pulled it off very well indeed. The book is quite slim, which helps to keep the story speeding along at a decent pace, and there are enough interesting characters and situations to keep you interested. Regardless of whether or not you like Gaiman (I'd not read any of his stuff before), this book is good enough to keep you entertained. Now, maybe I can find those TV shows on video...