Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

Summary from Goodreads:

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

Everyone has their opinions on Neil Gaiman, but I personally think he’s great and I really enjoyed reading this book. In particular, I think Gaiman has a real talent for seamlessly blending the mundane and the fantastical. In Neverwhere, Gaiman takes the people that you see every day in large cities, the ones you ignore and turn your heads from – the ones on the side of the road holding out empty cans, the ones muttering to themselves, the ones covered in filth and grime that you pretend not to see – and he creates a whole new world around them that is completely ignored by the inhabitants of London Above.

This world beneath London is terrifying – it’s full of sewage, grime, and monsters (both human and not-so-human). It is a world where old and new converge and time is relative, where there are regal rats and loyal rat-speakers who serve them, where darkness and shadows can come alive, and where thousand-year-old secrets are kept. This world is incredibly imaginative and Gaiman makes it seem just as real as the London that exists above it.

My main criticisms of this book are about the characters, specifically the main character. Richard is honestly the most useless noodle of a character I can think of. He is unbelievably passive and just, well, totally useless! By the end of the book he becomes ever so slightly less useless – maybe a worthless potato as opposed to a noodle. A little more substance, but still more like a foodstuff than an actual human being. Now I don’t need to like the protagonist to like the book, but Richard honestly made me want to throw this book against a wall. The other characters are vastly more interesting, but unfortunately we don’t really get to see any real character development, which is a bit disappointing.

All in all though, I thought this book was good fun! The world-building is fantastic, it’s funny, and it kept me up at night reading. It’s by no means a literary masterpiece, but it might make you think twice about those people who you often pretend don’t exist. Recommended.

Have you read Neverwhere? Or any of Neil Gaiman’s other books? What do you think of him? Would love to hear from you. 🙂