Tapestrymlp's Reviews > Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
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Feb 14, 2008

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bookshelves: fantasy, read-in-2008
Read in February, 2008

This was my first Gaiman book and I went in with high expectations given all the praise I've read about the author. This is one of his earlier novels and I think it shows the transition period from serial comic (the Sandman series) to novelist. The writing is very visual and Gaiman appears to take great delight in describing each tiny thing in excruciating detail. Overall, I enjoyed the story but didn't always enjoy the way it was conveyed. It was a struggle to get through the entire book.

The Good: the basic premise of the story is intrigueing and original. I like the idea of the two Londons, one above, one below. Gaiman demonstrates an insight into human character and nature and shines a spotlight on it. For example, he takes the idea of the homeless street people who exist in our world on the fringe and "unseen" and then gives the reason they are invisible a twist. His characters are well-rounded and vivid with graces and faults. The story has several twists and turns that are suprising but believable which keeps the reader guessing. The ending fits the story and characters. Gaiman posesses a real talent for weaving a story outside the common mold and creating something other than expected. The world building and details of London Below are well thought out, engaging and fresh.

The Bad: this book is way too long. As I said above, Gaiman can be too descriptive and all of that window-dressing on the story can get tiring. Gaiman also likes to use non-traditional similes and metaphors in his description - some are refreshing, but some miss the mark so completely it's distracting. The text has a tendency to ramble on and on when a simple statement would have been more to the point and more effectively moved the story forward. While most of the book's characters are well-developed, the two major villians of the piece Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandermar remain largely two-dimensional. Like some other famous authors, Gaiman also uses far too many adverbs throughout the text and most especially in dialogue attribution. I doubt this will distract anyone that hasn't read one too many books about writing fiction and editing, however it definitely tripped me up more than once.

I listened to the author's preferred text version of this novel via Audible. Gaiman did a good job of reading the novel and injected life and humor into the various characters. You could tell his obvious relish in the piece.
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