Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman
Series: N/A
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: This book is my first drink of water after a year of living in a desert
On Goodreads
Sometimes I think about the fact that Neil Gaiman exists and it just gets hard to breathe. I think my body is subconsciously taking in less oxygen because it knows more of it should be saved for Neil Gaiman. Can you tell he's my favorite author?

Anyway, adoration of the author himself aside, Neverwhere is a phenomenal novel that hit me in all the right places.

It features a very interesting assortment of characters. We have Richard Mayhew, who seemed very boring and plain in the beginning, but who discovers a whole new world (cue Alan Menken soundtrack) right below the London he calls home. His journey changes him of course, and I grew to like the character more as the book went on. We also have Door, who seemed to grow more mysterious page by page, until we finally got unraveled pieces of her past. Other than those two, there's a whole assortment of characters, some helpful and kind, and some out for blood. Gaiman did an excellent job of introducing characters and writing them as completely different while still keeping the same writing style. Sometimes authors get too wrapped up in their own style and all the characters sound the same and other times they're all so different there's no cohesion. This is not the case her, and Neil Gaiman hits the nail right on the head, as usual. One of my favorite passages was Gaiman's description of two of the characters on the hunt for Door:

"There are four simple ways for the observant to tell Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar apart: first, Mr. Vandemar is two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup; second, Mr. Croup has eyes of a faded china blue, while Mr. Vandemar's eyes are brown; third, while Mr. Vandemar fashioned the rings he wears on his right hand out of the skulls of four ravens, Mr. Croup has no obvious jewelery; fourth, Mr. Croup likes words, while Mr. Vandemar is always hungry. Also, they look nothing at all alike."

Not only was that an effective descriptive technique, it also showcases the writing style of the book, which was another thing I absolutely loved. Neil Gaiman always writes with such fluidity, each words seamlessly melts into the next and I found each sentence drawing me own closer to the next until I'd been reading for hours without realizing. Reading his writing is one of those things you do with some pastries and green tea, soaking in the paper and wondering exactly how he manages to write so fluidly. Everyone should read at list one work by him. Even if the way he writes isn't your cup of tea, everyone needs to experience what can only be described as the book manifestation of chocolate: rich and smooth and over way too quickly.

Okay, I could probably rave about the way Neil Gaiman writes for hours on end, but I want to mention how much I love the plot. That's what made this book so different from another book written with pretty words and distinct characters. The storylines are so well done and I love the way it's told. We get a bit of the past, a bit of the present, and a lot of mystery. Neverwhere creates an entire universe in the underground roads and passages of London. Gaiman has secret passages in the sewers and rats as messengers and people with the ability to erase you from everyone's life. The whole book just kept making me want to read more about the world under London Above, the world where magic and fantasy are possible. I thought the idea behind the book was absolutely brilliant and executed wonderfully.

Basically, Neil Gaiman is, as usual, perfect in the way he writes, and I would personally be overjoyed if anyone picked up this book, or any book he's written, and became a new fan.

- Noor

Who is your favorite author?
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