After reading two great Neil Gaiman books, I decided I needed to read everything the man’s written. So I picked up something outside of YA sci-fi/fantasy (I know *gasp*!), but it turns out I didn’t go very far outside. Neverwhere is definitely something that adults and “young adults” can read and enjoy.
The main character is 20-something Richard Mayhew (so I guess by today’s genre terms, that would make it a “new adult”novel); Richard has just started to get his life launched, moved to London, got himself a cushy office job, and a demanding girlfriend when he decides to help an injured girl and gets sucked into the world of London below. He loses everything in his normal life, and like Dorothy in some sort of upside down, subterranean-version of Oz, he starts on a quest to get home again.
The world of London below that Gaiman builds in Neverwhere is by far the best part of the novel. London below is filled with imaginative and frightening people from rat-speakers to homeless counts and subway earls. It’s a seedy, dangerous, magical world, and it is totally captivating. However, the story itself was a little disappointing. While Gaiman’s children’s books like Coraline have a simple, elegant power, I didn’t find the story of Neverwhere to be nearly as compelling. The main character is a bit flat, and he’s often carried-along by the narrative instead of active within it.
That said, Neverwhere is well worth reading for its magical world alone. And there are few writers that can match the depth, detail and originality of Gaiman’s imagination.
So I’ll keep on with my Gaiman read-a-thon. So what should I try next?
BTW, I also hear that Neverwhere is a radio-play on the BBC. Check it out.