Monday, September 1, 2008

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
Date Finished: August 29, 2008 #50
Pages: 370
Rating: 3.5/5

I read this one for the bonus section of my classics challenge but I'm not sure if I would classify it among some of the others listed. Was it a good read? Yes! Was it a fun read? Yes! Will people still be reading it and talking about it 50 years from now? I don't know--what do you think? Do you think we can predict which books will turn into classics? I have a few ideas but what do I know??

Neverwhere, my second Gaiman book, is a whirlwind ride through the otherside of London--the dark and even magical side--London Below. When Richard Mayhew, a young professional, stumbles upon a bleeding girl on the sidewalks of London, he doesn't realize that his entire life is going to change as he is thrust into a world he didn't know existed. When Richard makes a decision to help the girl, Door, he unknowingly trades his life in London Above for a new life in London Below. As Richard struggles with the discovery that his loved ones and acquaintances no longer know him, he decides to help Door on her quest for knowledge in hopes that he will be able to get his life back in London Above. I suck at summaries. :) So let's get on with what I thought.

This book was a lot of fun to read--I don't normally read this type of fiction (not even sure how to classify it) but I'm glad it was recommended to me--see the bloggers below--and that I read it. The characters were rich and varied, and the cast of secondary characters is fantastic. To be honest, I thought some of these characters were better developed than the main characters--especially Richard who seemed a little flat. Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandermar are probably by far the creepiest and most evil villans I have ever encountered. They were vile in every way but they were also strangely comedic. I also really liked the marquis de Carabas even though I never really felt I could trust him.

In terms of plot, it took me quite a while to get into this book because of the constant flipping of focus between the different subplots. There was too much going on with not enough information divulged to keep my interest at the beginning. Basically I was too confused. Once the plots started coming together I was hooked to the book and couldn't put it down. I loved the journey this book took me on through all of the different locations of the London Below (which correspond in some way to London Above) and I really liked the message at the end of the book.

But in the end, I have mixed feelings about the book. I think maybe the deal is that with all of the praise that Gaiman's works have received, I've expected to be blown away with the actual writing. The plots of Stardust and this one were both very captivating but I've been left with want for more writing. The climactic highlights of each book, for me, happen too quickly with little buildup and little development. Anyway, I enjoyed the book nonetheless.

Other reviews:
Stephanie (Stephanie's Confessions of a Bookaholic)
Unfinished Person (Just a (Reading) Fool)
Gautami (My Own Little Reading Room)
Dewey (Hidden Side of a Leaf)
Raidergirl3 (An Adventure in Reading)
Nymeth (Things Mean A Lot)
Rhinoa (Rhinoa's Ramblings
Melody (Reading Corner)
(Let me know if I've missed yours!)

In other bookish news:

C.B. from Ready When You Are, C.B. is hosting Short Story September. Click Here for details.

Natasha from Maw Books is reaching out to us for the Reading & Blogging for Darfur event. She is doing some amazing things--so pop by and give her your support. From what I understand this will be an all month initiative. (See button below)

Lezlie from Books 'N Border Collies is offering a giveaway from Nefertiti AND The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran. Hop over Here to enter into the giveaway and mention that I sent you :)

If you haven't heard by now, you must be *trying* not to pay attention. :) But My Friend Amy is hosting Book Blogger Appreciation Week from September 15-19th. Not quite sure how all of this is going to go down, but I appreciate my fellow book bloggers and it is sure to be fun. Check it out Here. (See button below)

Wendy from Caribousmom has started a new blog entitled Women Writers. I look forward to lots of new discoveries, to be sure.

I guess that's it! I hope to finish Matrimony in the next few days and then it's another weekend away (down to South Padre Island for a wedding that was supposed to be on the beach but thanks to Dolly will be at a restaurant...will be interesting).

I hope everyone has a great Labor Day!


Anonymous said...

I read and reviewed it last year here I really liked it and hope it does become a classic. I think his Sandman graphic novels definitely will.

Ana S. said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Trish! I wish you had been blown away too, but we can't all like everything the same way :P

I've seen many people say that they like his ideas and his imagination but aren't too impressed by the actual writing, but personally I love it. I can't explain why, but I love the way he words things. Of course it's different from, say, Arundhati Roy, but for me it's a different kind of greatness.

Anyway, I certainly hope this one's still read in 50 years. I think it has a good chance of becoming a cult classic. Maybe not a mainstream classic, because even fantasy books as well-known as The Lord of the Rings aren't considered classics by everyone. But in any case, I really hope Neverwhere is not forgotten.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Rhinoa - I'm sorry I missed yours! I use my google reader when looking for links and I think it only goes back so far because I had to go to Nymeth's actual blog to search for it (which I only did because I remember seeing it).

*Nymeth - I know that people are very passionate about Gaiman and so far I just haven't felt that way and I'm not really sure why (other than we all have our different tastes). I thought it was a fantastic story--and even though it would scare me to pieces I would love to see a movie version (I do know there was a BBC miniseries). Not through with Gaiman yet--I've definitely enjoyed his books enough to keep reading them. :)

Wendy said...

Thanks for the link to my new blog, Trish :)

Kim L said...

I just finished this book this morning, but haven't posted a review. I kinda felt as you did. I liked this one, but not my favorite Gaiman. I had higher expectations, but the two villains are super-creepy. Glad to hear your thoughts!

Stephanie said...

Oh...I loved this book!! I'm with Nymeth. There is just something about Gaiman's writing that draws me in. I'm sorry you weren't as impressed as I was, but I am glad you liked it!

Melody said...

I enjoyed reading this book! Hey, it's a Neil Gaiman's book after all. ;) I haven't read all his other books yet but I intend to do so... wanted to collect his books! Anyway, here's my link to the review. :)

Karen said...

I really loved this one too. Like you Trish I don't normally read this type of fiction but I totally consumed this book - finished it in a day!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Wendy - No problem! :)

*Kim - You're reading this for your bookclub, right? Which one of Gaiman's books would you say is your favorite?

*Stephanie - I did like it but I wasn't swept away. This is the type of stuff I love to see on the big screen and don't read quite as much of so maybe that's what it is?

*Melody - Which other ones have you read by him? Do you have a favorite? Thanks for the link--I'll put it up!

*Karen - Oh my goodness! It took me a long time to get into the book--just wasn't in the mood. But once I did get in I had a difficult time putting it down. I'm glad you liked it so much!!

Debi said...

Great review, Trish! In a way, I have to say that I'm a bit happy that it wasn't a perfect read for you (yes, I'm being totally selfish in this!), because it helps me lower my expectations a bit. I've almost been afraid to pick this one up, because I loved American Gods so much and have been so afraid of being let down. Nothing sucks quite like being let down by a fabulous book just because you were expecting even more from it...if that makes any sense.

Andrew Clarke said...

If you feel like reading a fantasy adventure, I would love to hear your opinion of "Outcasts Of Skagaray". For a preview there are sample chapters on Happy reading, whatever happens.

Ramya said...

hey trish! you have an award waiting for you on my blog. please stop by to pick it up!!:)

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if maybe you should try his short story collections. Those are the only things of his that I've read (which I enjoyed), and I've heard people say that his novels are a bit different from his short stories. I'm not sure if that's true since I've never read any of his novels but it may be worth looking in to! = )

Darlene said...

I've not read any of Gaiman's books. The story line does sound interesting. It may be one I'll pick up sometime in the future. Great review Trish.

Melody said...

Thanks, Trish! I had also read Fragile Things, InterWorld and Coraline. :) My favourite has to be Coraline amongst all I read so far.

BTW, I'll also add you to my blogroll! It's good to visit another book blog. ;)

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Debi - It is interesting because when I wrote about Stardust everyone mentioned how they loved this book and had a difficult time with American Gods--so maybe because you loved that one so much this one will be through the roof! Wouldn't that be fantastic! :)

*Andrew - Sounds really interesting--and to be compared to Tolkien, Lewis, and Pullman--wow! I'd definitely be interesting in reading more.

*Ramya - Thank you thank you! You are such a dearheart. It will be near impossible to pick just three but I'll try to think of something in the next few days. :) Thanks for making my day so special.

*JS Peyton- I've heard great things about his short stories, so you're probably right. Fantasy is a genre that I like but I'm still dipping my feet into the water. It is definitely a far cry from what I normally read but I've really like everything I've read so far!

*Dar - Everyone gushes over Gaiman so I'm sure you'll be hearing about him a lot. I hadn't heard of him until a few months ago but now he's everywhere I turn. Stardust was a really fun read and pretty light if you're looking for a relaxing weekend book. (and then you can watch the fantastic movie!)

*Melody - I've heard great things about Coraline and look forward to the movie! I have heard that his reading of the book is worth it as well so I might try that. And I'll be sure to add you to my stalking list as well. :)

Thoughts of Joy said...

Oh - I'm still not so sure if I'll be reading any more Gaiman. I would really love to love his work, but I just don't. I'm sure I would like one more than the others, but I'm not keen on reading through them all to find the winner. The premise of this one sounds interesting - I'll give him that. :) I'm glad that you are enjoying them at least somewhat.

Bellezza said...

I read Neverwhere for RIP II Challenge. I liked it, but I didn't love it...maybe it had been hyped up too much in my mind from all the reviews I'd read. I thoroughly loved Stardust, though.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Joy - I think I'm kind of in the same boat that you are. I really want to love Gaiman but so far I haven't been overly impressed. I did really really like Stardust but I liked the movie even more (like you its hard for me to see the movie first and then read the book which was the case here). This was a great story but I think he was trying to do too much in too few pages and so it seems really rushed in places where it shouldn't be. Oh well!

*Bellezza - Maybe that's the case for me as well--so much hype. I think he's a very entertaining author, for sure! But I think I was expecting a little more depth (although I think people could argue with me). I guess just different tastes. Have you read any of his others?

Anonymous said...

Is it wrong of me to say that I don't have any desire to read any Neil Gaiman? I just don't. Not even one.

Thanks for posting about my awareness campaign!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Natasha - Nope--not wrong at all. Maybe Coraline? I've heard great things about that one and it is being made into a movie! Stardust was really good but still not a ton of depth.

And you are welcome--please let me know if I can do anything!!

Corinne said...

I'm ashamed - I've never read any Gaiman either! Thanks for this review, though. Someday I'm just going to bit the bullet and try one, so I'll know if I like him or not :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the link to my short story challenge.

There was a mini-series made of Neverwhere for British Television. It was strange, and disjointed, and wonderful, really. I liked it.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Corinne - I hadn't even heard of Gaiman until a few months ago! Everyone seems to really love him. I like him OK but I'm not sure, yet, what all the fuss is. If you do decide to read his work, I would recommend Stardust.

*CB - You're welcome! Now that I'm back in town hopefully I can read a few stories to contribute. I'm really lazy when it comes to short fiction, unfortunately.

I haven't seen the miniseries but I think I would really like it--this is the type of material that I prefer on the screen rather than in my book.

Terri B. said...

I didn't realize how much I enjoyed reading Nowhere! I still find myself thinking about "scenes" from the book sometimes. I might need to go back and re-rate it ... higher.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

That's funny you mention that since my perceptions of books change after I've read them as well. I can see myself thinking more fondly of this one in the future!

Kim L said...

To answer your question, my favorite Neil Gaiman so far has been American Gods. I just loved that book so completely. And yes, you're right, I read it for book club!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Kim - I've heard kind of mixed things about American Gods, so I'm glad you liked it. People seem to prefer Neverwhere, but maybe it is just more accessible? No idea.

Amanda said...

I've read through the comments here and a lot of people have mentioned the BBC miniseries, but when I read about Gaiman's collected works, it said Neverwhere was a "companion novel" to the miniseries, which gave me the impression that it was written second. I wonder if its disjointed feel has to do with that? I mean, if it was written intended to be read by people familiar with the tv series, some of it might not have made sense to a reader not familiar with it.

Originally, I'd planned to pick up this book, but changed to American Gods when I found out it was a companion book.

I get what you're saying about his writing, though. He has good descriptions and metaphors and turns of phrases in Coraline (the only one I've read as of yet), but I felt like something was lacking, and thought it could have done with being longer. Like the plot wasn't fully developed or something. So yes, I totally get you. I hope i'm more impressed with American Gods.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Amanda - Interesting--I just looked it up on Wikipedia, and it says that the miniseries was turned into a novel. I hadn't realized that from people's comments. So, that could be where some of the gaps come from, but I also felt that way about Stardust. :P I think that Gaiman has a lot of good things going for him, especially in terms of imagination, but I don't think his writing is as developed as it could be. I'm a writing reader--don't care as much about plot as I do writing and characters, so Gaiman falls a little short for me. I've heard that American Gods is really good and I do have that one on the shelf. If that doesn't do it for me, I'll just have to resign myself to the fact that maybe Gaiman is more of a fun read than substantial read for me (wow that sounds unfair!! but I'm guessing you understand what I mean). I look forward to hearing what you think of American Gods!!

Amanda said...

Yes, I know exactly what you mean, Trish. I, too, am a writing reader, and my background is in classics (I just love them!), so it takes a whole lot for a modern author to catch my fancy. i have hopes for Gaiman, but we'll see.