{4.5/5} “‘Young man,’ he said, ‘understand this: there are two Londons. There’s London Above — that’s where you lived — and then there’s London Below — the Underside — inhabited by the people who fell through the cracks in the world. Now you’re one of them. Good night.'”

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, published in 1996

What if there were another world beneath ours? People living in the sewers, abandoned subway tunnels, and other places we would never go. In Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, this world exists. The novel is so well written that you will wonder if the Underside really does exist in real life.

Richard worked in Securities, had a beautiful fiancée, and basically led a normal life. Then he picked up an injured girl, Door, off the sidewalk and his life became not-so-normal. Door introduced him to London Below, and to her quest to find out who killed her family. Door had the handy ability to open doors, whether they were locked or not.

Richard is a likeable main character. It’s enjoyable to follow him as he learns more about the world he’s been thrust into. In some novels like this the author throws in whatever magic and strangeness they feel like — Gaiman is much more careful, creating a world that feels internally consistent. There is a sense of real danger to the story — that anything could happen.

My previous encounters with Gaiman’s work have been hit and miss. The novel Good Omens (written with Terry Pratchett) and the movie Stardust (based on his book) were brilliant. On the other hand I didn’t finish the novel American Gods, and the movies MirrorMask (he cowrote the screenplay) and Coraline (based on his book) were mediocre.

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2012 at 7:57 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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