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Neverwhere (London Below, #1)
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Sci-fi & Fantasy Literature > Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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message 1: by Kelly (last edited Jun 01, 2013 09:36AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kelly (xitomatl) Welcome to the thread for discussion for our novel of the month this June - Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman! Please feel free to jump in with any discussion of the book.

Please note: if you are going to discuss any major plot points or spoilers, please put it behind spoiler tags! Please go here if you don't know how to use the tags.

Laurel | 50 comments Wow - surprised no one has commented on here yet! I found the book to be a quick read and quite enjoyable.

I believe this story was originally conceived as a screen play. I saw the 6 episodes years ago and thought, with it's limited budget, the show did quite well. The book version is fun and fleshes things out but doesn't deviate from the original.

The story is chock full of wonderful characters. The Marquis de Carabas is high on my list of favorites. I love his courtly affectations and penchant for making bargains. He's so very, very clever. I've heard Gaiman plans to someday write a short story called 'How the Marquis Got His Coat Back.' Would love to hear that story!

Next up, Mr. Vandemar and Mr. Croup. What a pair of villains they are! There's something about that crusty British sensibility being contrasted with a brute killer that is terrible fun. And the final villain reveal was a surprise to me but one that makes sense. I don't want to give away spoilers.

I'm not the biggest fan of Richard which is surprising since he is the 'hero' of our tale. It's not until his ordeal with the Black Friars that I really appreciated how much he'd grown as a character.

I thought it was a nice change to have Richard and Door not get together as a couple. Having a romance under stressful conditions is a plot device that's often overused.

The different settings and creative use of everyday locations in extremely new ways was imaginative and entertaining. The court scene on the tube was a favorite along with the floating market in Harrods.

I was also struck by how true it is that people are able to slip through the cracks of our society and become unseen, become members of the Underside. It makes me wonder if the things I worry about are really that important in the grand scheme of life. A book able to entertain and make me think.

Kelly (xitomatl) I'm actually quite surprised as well - I downloaded it although I haven't started it yet, as I was reading another book for another group for the first part of the month. I'll probably crack it tonight. All my reading time is being eaten up because I'm packing for a rather large move and life change!

Robyn (seawitchrecovers) | 50 comments I read this a while ago and didn't want to ruin anything if people hadn't finished yet.
Richard was so boring - I, too, did not especially love him as a hero, but I think that was an intentional lure of the story. He's that annoying guy who sits in the cubical next to you. He's not overly handsome, he's not exciting or interesting. I think that's one character type Gaiman uses a lot and I can appreciate the subtleness, even if I don't really like the character.

Jennifer (gxeninjo) | 10 comments I read this last fall, for a fantasy Lit class, and I also didn't want to ruin anything. I think it is interesting how you weren't that fond of Richard, my class discussed him as hero at length.

I also really enjoyed Valdemar, Croup, and the Marquis de Carabas. I also really loved Door's name, and I was happy that there was no official couple. At first I had concerns about the literalness of her name, but I ended up really liking it. I am still not totally sure how I feel about Hunter.

Kelly (xitomatl) I'm a little less than halfway through now. It's enjoyable enough, but I'm not loving it (the way I did, let's say, with American Gods). I don't feel like there's much meat to it at this point, and I keep waiting for it to deepen and it just doesn't seem to be happening.

It's kinda like Sleepy Hollow by Tim Burton - like the feel of it, very nice to look at, but not much substance. Is it coming later on? Is it an extremely slow build?

Laurel | 50 comments Kelly wrote: "I'm a little less than halfway through now. It's enjoyable enough, but I'm not loving it (the way I did, let's say, with American Gods). I don't feel like there's much meat to it at this point, a..."

The comparison to Sleepy Hollow by Tim Burton is right on! Good style but not very deep - just creative fun. I like that actually. There are times for deep reading like American Gods and times for quick reads like Neverwhere.

Kelly (xitomatl) Laurel wrote: "The comparison to Sleepy Hollow by Tim Burton is right on! Good style but not very deep - just creative fun."

Finished the book a few days ago, and yes, I definitely stick by my earlier assessment. I don't think it was the best Gaiman I've ever read, but definitely an enjoyable and light read. I think it would definitely make a good film or mini-series. I guess I just expect a lot more from Gaiman in terms of subtext and philosophy, so I'm just a wee bit disappointed!

Shannon (frejafolkvangar) | 111 comments I was not a fan of this book for the following reasons:
1) Richard has no personality. He feels like a person in the mini-series, but here he's just a vessel for weird shit to happen to. I have this problem with every Gaiman book and reading this and American Gods back to back enhanced my frustration with this recurring problem. I don't buy any relationship between he and Dor and don't feel he has gained any skills of wisdom. When he SPOILER decides to forsake modern life and return below, I feel certain he'll be dead before the week is out.

2) This book got a little weird in terms of exoticism. It's the Neverwhere drinking game! take a shot every time he says "caramel". Double for "burnt caramel".

3) The ending, where he sees his future with the girl he just met, coupled with Richard's attitude towards his ex, makes his outlook on women and life both annoying and problematic. He doesn't know this girl. Who's to say she's cut from the same boring, controlling cloth as his ex? Who's to say she wants to climb the ladder, have kids, and move to the suburbs anyway? Maybe he's the boring one. Are the only choices to live a soulless corporate life and marry someone you hate or live underground and eat cats? I feel like there must be a happy medium in there somewhere. Also, if you don't want to climb the corporate ladder, don't. If you want to live a life of adventure, do. If you don't want to go to museums every weekend, say so. Communicate with your girlfriend or just break up with her like a man. You don't need to run away from all humanity just to avoid such a horrible, easily avoidable fate.

As is often my feeling with Gaiman, this book had interesting ideas but failed to execute them well. I still think the mini-series is superior.

Shannon (frejafolkvangar) | 111 comments Sorry for not using spoiler tags. I'm using the Goodreads app on my phone and don't know how. I hope my spoiler warning was enough to avoid ruining the book for anyone.

Kelly (xitomatl) Ah, I had no idea this book was written for TV first, and then made a book! That almost always never works out, and it does explain a lot.

You're right Shannon that Richard is rather empty, and I did see his decision there at the end coming a mile away. Although, I don't think Gaiman was making the statement that it's corporate ladder boringness vs. London Below and those are the only two decisions. I think more what it was, was that the journey changed Richard enough so that he just didn't fit in London Above anymore, although I think that could have been shown a bit better. It was a bit of a smash cut to that.

One character that I really did like was the Marquis, he probably had the most development and made the most interesting choices.

Vandemar and Croup were almost indistinguishable from each other, but I have a feeling they were supposed to be written that way. I wish there had been a bit more difference between them though (otherwise, what's the point - just have one character, right?).

I'm going to try to find the TV show, I'm really interested in seeing that.

Shannon (frejafolkvangar) | 111 comments The BBC mini-series is good. I recommend it.

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