Susan's Reviews > Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
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's review
Feb 07, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: genre-sff
Read in April, 2009

This was a perfect reread while living in London. I'd read it years before and enjoyed it as a romp, though I'm not sure why I gave it 5 stars here originally -- perhaps I was just in a fit of Gaiman drooling. It seems like 4 stars is even a bit high, but I enjoyed it so much I'm reluctant to go lower.

This time I read the "author's preferred text," which is probably a different book link on GoodReads that I'm not going to bother with. I think the one we have at home is the British release. According to the forward, when the story was published in the US, a lot of the humor was toned down and a lot more explanation of London/tube geography was added. What I remember reading originally was about 2/3 the length of this one, had a lot of humor, and definitely didn't tell me what the Tube references meant. The segment about "Mind the Gap" stuck with me so much that I started giggling when I first heard it on the real Tube.

So, thank goodness the humor was in this edition; I wonder just how over-angsty the American release was. But I found that often the extra London exposition fell flat. It seems like there are simply two classes of people who will read this book -- people familiar with London geography and the Tube and everyone else. If you cater to everyone else, the story loses its snappiness. If you don't, you risk making it unreachable to anyone but a native Londoner. But if the story stands well enough on its own, then the London references just become an extra shine to polish everything up if you happen to catch them.

That said, it really was a treat to read Neverwhere as part of the in-crowd. If you're ever here, even for a few days, and you travel the Tube, pick it up and give it a read. But you might want to watch which edition you get.

On the negative, Gaiman seems to say in the supplemental material that he was trying to create an enchanting, fanciful world ala Alice's Wonderland, except for adults. What he creates is a menacingly dark Wonderland that eats the weak and innocent for afternoon snacks. Not a place I would visit voluntarily, no matter how dull my life in London Above might become. I don't think that's what he intended me to feel.

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David now I'm wondering what edition I've read!

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