Miriam's Reviews > Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
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's review
Aug 18, 2009

it was amazing

This is the story of someone who falls through the cracks of regular society and exists in a different sort of society with different rules for everything. It presents a sort of extreme version of culture shock. There are people who revere rats and there are magical people and a lot of killers and mysterious powers and beasts and some are kind and some aren't and nobody cares too much about whether someone dies or not. The main character, Richard Mayhew, finds himself navigating his way through this society with almost no clue about what is going on, but with a kind and honest heart that ultimately serves him well.

Neil Gaiman reminds me of a magician whose work is flawless and leaves one wondering how he did it. Reading Neverwhere is sort of like time traveling and being able to watch a world famous magician at work before he became world famous. There are no velvet curtains, no tuxedo, no fanfare,...there's just a guy standing there in jeans and a t-shirt, doing the best magic show you've ever seen. If I hadn't read any of his books before, I would have realized that he was an upcoming genius. As I have read most of his books before this one, I simply thought "He really was always this good".

In some ways, this is my favorite Gaiman book. His writing has become more polished through the years, but what Neverwhere may lack in polish, it makes up for in its openness. It's a little bit easier to see the mechanisms of genius that are at work in this book than in others. While the plot is (as always) carefully crafted, it is a little easier to see the distinct threads of the plot and how they are woven together. It is also a little bit easier to see how mythology and reality are interwoven throughout the plot. (However, I am still baffled by how quickly and succinctly believable characters are created.) The experience of reading this book is a little like seeing the inside of a self-winding Rolex watch for the first time. Before then, I knew that Rolex watches were beautiful and good time keepers and their ability to wind themselves was as good as magic, but when I saw the inside of one, how simple and brilliantly efficient it was, I was in complete awe. After reading Neverwhere I think I am a little closer to understanding how Gaiman's writing works. As with good magic tricks I am even more amazed by his books as I begin realize the level of skill and the attention to detail necessary for them to look like they are produced by magic when they are in fact produced by a brilliant and hard-working man.

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