Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman



Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: 1996
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Amazon
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

Review:
“Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman is the latest book I have read as part of the 2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge. This book fulfils the Urban Fantasy requirement of the challenge and I was looking forward to delving into it as I fondly remembered my previous experience of Gaiman from reading “American Gods”.

The story follows Richard Mayhew, a normal guy living in London with a regular job and an attractive fiancĂ©. However, when he stumbles across an injured girl lying in the street he decides to help her out and unwittingly changes his life forever. He soon discovers that the ATM doesn’t recognise his bank card, his fiancĂ© doesn’t remember him, his flat is rented out to another person. He therefore attempts to understand what has happened by trying to locate the mysterious girl he assisted. His search leads him to “London Below”, a mysterious and dark place where the lost and forgotten end up. On his journey through “London Below” he confronts talking rats, assassins, monsters and even the odd angel but keeps on going determined to get his old life back.

Quite simply, I loved this book as I felt it was the perfect urban fantasy with the fantastical underworld of “London Below” really complementing Richard’s easily recognisable normal urban life. The writing itself was of a high standard with the clever, humorous and witty language being utilised to help the reader visualise the various dark and surreal locations, events and characters. To be honest, I think the language really does strike home with me that this is a British novel with a sense of style and humour that should be highly recognisable to those who live in the UK. However, it should still appeal to people the world over as it is an expertly written piece of dark urban fantasy.

In regards to the locations, I really enjoyed witnessing the way in which the names of stations on the London Underground actually linked to places in “London Below”. I found this little quirk of the story to be both original and very interesting to see in action. As a clarification, you don’t need to know about London to enjoy the story although I think that some knowledge of the various locations will probably help to enhance the overall experience.

The characterisation was also exquisite with a huge level of diversity as you would expect to see in a city like London. Everyone was different in regards to history, ability and aims but everything was well portrayed and developed so that what they did made sense on some level. Richard in particular was a joy to follow, his naivety, confusion, dear and curiosity about his own sanity all felt real. Quite simply, he was regular person and I could easily imagine most people reacting in the same way if confronted with the world he ended up facing.

Overall, this was a surreal and imaginative urban fantasy novel that ticks all the right boxes. There is originality, innovation, humour, wit and competent writing throughout the novel which ensured I was hooked from start to finish. The only negative I can think of is that there has never been a sequel! Therefore, if you are a fan of urban fantasy, especially the dark variety then I think you need to go and pick this book up