Gaiman, Neil. Neverwhere. New York: Avon Books, 1997.
Reason read: Gaiman was born in the month of November.
Neverwhere opens with mousy nondescript Richard Mayhew on the eve of his departure for London. For some reason he needs his palm read by a mysterious old woman. Adding to the intrigue, she tells him he will go to London, but not any London she knows. And with that, she leaves him. Fast forward to London. Mayhew is a businessman with a flat & a pretty fiancee. All seems well and yet, one night after an argument with Jessica, Richard has the misfortune of rescuing a strange girl bleeding on the sidewalk. From then on nothing is the same. True to the fortune teller’s words, he no longer lives in any London he’s ever known. His world is now full of smoke and angels, monsters and sewers, talking rats and the girl he rescued, Door. There is a London Above and a London Below. All he wants to do is get back to his own world. All Door wants to do is find out why her entire family was slaughtered. Their missions couldn’t be any more different from one another but yet they need each other.
I am choosing one quote because I think it sums up Neverwhere perfectly. Richard is writing a diary post in his head, “On Friday I had a job, a fiancee, a home and a life that made sense…Then I found an injured girl bleeding on the pavement and I tried to be a Good Samaritan. Now I’ve got no fiancee, no home, no job and I’m walking around a couple of hundred feet under the streets of London with the projected life expectancy of a suicidal fruitfly” (p 120). After I was done laughing I realized this quote should be the book review. That is the entire story in a nutshell, thanks to the protagonist.
Confessional: whenever I thought about Neverwhere my mind slid to Mieville’s The City and the City. Both are fantasy. Both take place in overlapping societies. Both deal with murder and the ever persistent need to get “home”, wherever that may be.
As an aside, I was surprised by the amount of violence in Neverwhere. Mr. Vandemar and Mr. Croup are a couple of vicious, crazy characters.
Author fact: Gaiman is best known for his graphic novel series The Sandman. Not a one is on my list. Bummer.
Book trivia: Neverwhere is Gaiman’s first novel.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best For Teens” (p 24).