Upon reading the introduction of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman I learned two things I hadn’t previously known about the book. One, its concept first began as a T.V. series, and two, there are different versions of the text published.
Both of those things changed my perspective on the novel as a whole. With the former it caused me to see the novel through the lens of a T.V. series, because when character perspective changed in the novel it was reminiscent of when a scene would change settings in a show.
With the latter, I will first admit that I don’t know if I find this interesting or annoying. Some of the changes he made to the “American version” were expansions in the description of London’s landscape. Which is understandable. But apparently there are a few versions of this book out there. Why and is that a good thing? And I’ll leave those questions there for you.
Neverwhere begins by introducing Richard Mayhew, who is about to move to London. The prologue is actually one of my favorite scenes in the novel because it’s such a clear depiction of who Richard is. And not in an overly expressed way, where we learn too much too soon, but rather we see his character as person acted out. Which is a character that is unsure of himself, but a man with good intentions.
The novel then follows Richard as his kindness to strangers leads him to a path to Neverwhere, London Below, where he joins Lady Door’s quest. She, in search of information, and him for a way to go back to normal life in “London Above.”
Now, I’ve been thinking this book was written in present tense, but as I just now flipped through the book I find that it’s past tense. I didn’t mark the instances I noticed, so maybe I’m just crazy.
Another thing that caught my attention right away was that Gaiman told the reader what his characters were feeling most of the time. “Said Richard, embarrassed,” happened twice only one small paragraph away from each other. (Okay, no more nitpicking.)
Before I go on: I did enjoy this novel. I even gave it four out of five stars, however, I do think it has a few issues, which brings me back to the multiple versions of this. Is it from over editing?
I liked reading about Richard, he was a pushover but I’d dare to say he wasn’t a coward. At least not completely. Yet, I don’t think he was truly developed as a character throughout the novel, as I don’t think any of the characters were. They had a certain depth, but at the same time they were all simply a pawn in a the novel.
And there it is. This novel is a chessboard and Gaiman is both players, but even though the perspective is told through the “pieces,” we see too much of Gaiman’s hand moving them. It was an adventure story, period. This isn’t bad in and of itself, I really enjoyed the fun and lightheartedness of the novel.
In describing Neverwhere, it’s said to be filled with things and people who “slipped through the cracks” of society. I love that and how fit with every aspect of the story and made it more complete in helping the reader understand what Neverwhere was supposed to be.
A few more qualms: there are many comparisons drawn to help imagine something going on (many of them weren’t needed) and the villains were often textbook cheesy.
Most importantly, because of the lack of true development this novel feels unfinished, and as if I’ve only read a few chapters. I feel like I’m missing parts of the story and who these people are. Everyone was an interesting…sidekick to the plot.
I’ll stop being a downer. I loved this tale of another world below our own, and how people become invisible to the real world if they are connected with it. The wittiness was refreshing and I thought a few things were funny that I’m not sure was supposed to have comedic intent.
Overall, I’d like a sequel(s). (One about Richard and Door’s continued adventures.)
This review is a part of my monthly Book Club!