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#212 ~ Neverwhere

Cover of Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere is the story of Richard, a good man who seems to be meandering through his life without much of his own purpose or direction.  He is engaged to Jessica, an almost domineering woman who is happy to treat him as if he isn’t good enough for her.  Richard seems readily oblivious to her personality until he finds a bloody, beaten young woman lying on a London street on the way to a dinner with Jessica’s boss.  When he takes the decision to pick this unknown girl up and take her to his apartment where she can be safe, Jessica is furious and ends their engagement.  He had no idea at the time that there would be such dangerous and complicated implications resulting from his decision to be a Good Samaritan.  Whether Richard took his fiance’s threat seriously, bringing Door back to his apartment alters his life forever.  Door was from the London Below and as a result of his involvement with her and the two bounty hunters from Below, Richard is no longer a part of the London Above.  Nor is he fully a part of Door’s world.  He needs to shake himself out of his sluggish approach to life in order to survive.

I am the type of person who loves to delight in the mayhem caused by the bad guys.  It’s nearly a love to hate type of situation.  Not every dark character makes me feel this way, though.  The miscreant must be  crafty, intelligent, and have just a tad bit of an advantage over the hero or heroine.  These are the malfeasants that force the hero or heroine to reach deep within themselves to rise to the occasion.  As with The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman proves in Neverwhere that he is a master at bringing to live some of the most wonderful villains.  Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemaar, London Below’s most talented assassins tasked with the the apprehension and murder of Door, were nothing short of a delight for me.  They kept Richard, Door, and Hunter on their toes and always kept a step ahead of them.  Their cocky impatience brought a smile to my face and their dialog was in many ways the highlight of this novel for me.

The more I think ab0ut Neverwhere, the more I compare it to the basic storyline of the movie “The Wizard of Oz.”

  • After taking action to help or protect someone else, both Richard and Dorothy find themselves in an unfamiliar world whose rules are foreign and oftentimes frightening.
  • Both novels include a small band of the most unlikely characters with their own motivations on the same dangerous quest at the request of a magical entity.
  • All Richard and Dorothy want is to go back home.

While there isn’t always a direct connection between Dorothy and Richard, they both are forced to face their greatest fears from both the outside world and within themselves in order to survive these foreign worlds and keep any hope of ever returning home, a place they never fully appreciated in the first place.  Without forcibly being removed from their comfort zones, they never would have  lived up to their full potential.  Dorothy would have spent her life on the farm dreaming of those better places over the rainbow while Richard would have continued to go through the motions of his life.  Richard and Dorothy needed their journeys.  It was their salvation.

neverwhereThis novel is the first book I’ve ever owned by Neil Gaiman. It was gifted to my by the lovely Jena from Muse Book Reviews. She sent it to me along with a copy of American Gods in hopes that I could get his autograph. Unfortunately, that never happened, but I treasured the book nonetheless. Now, I can also say that I treasure the story as well.  I have found this month that I’m not too old for the fantastical.

To enter for a chance to win the prizes for this theme month, leave a comment here and then go to the Neverwhere and Beyond page and use the following code: N&B-R2.

Just A Reading Fool

If you’ve reviewed this novel, please let me now and I’ll add a link to your review, too!

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19 Comments

  • At 2009.11.16 09:12, A Bookshelf Monstrosity said:

    You’re never too old for the fantastical! Thanks for the review.

    • At 2009.11.16 11:43, Zia said:

      Neverwhere ranks in my top 3 Gaiman books! Glad you enjoyed it.

      • At 2009.11.16 12:22, Sandy said:

        I think it sucks that Good Samaritans are always getting the short end of the stick, both in books and in real life! I think it is very insightful to see the connection between this book and Wizard of Oz. I wonder if Gaiman actually had that other story in mind when he wrote this one?

        • At 2009.11.16 13:09, Ti said:

          From your review, I would say that this book sounds wonderful! I love the comparison to The Wizard of Oz.

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          • At 2009.11.16 15:20, Kathy R (Bermudaonion) said:

            It’s wonderful to re-discover the child in you and it sounds like this book helped you do just that!

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            • At 2009.11.16 19:34, Melody said:

              I remember I really enjoyed it when I first read it. I’m glad you do too!

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              • At 2009.11.16 22:14, softdrink said:

                I can’t believe that I had totally forgotten that I’d read this book. It all came back to me when I read your review, though. So thanks!

                • At 2009.11.16 22:50, Mystica said:

                  I like the comparison and would like to get an opportunity to read this. Please count me in.

                  • At 2009.11.17 02:55, Carrie K. said:

                    This was the first adult book of Gaiman’s I read – and I loved it, too – enough to push it on my dad and say, “You HAVE to read this!”

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                    • At 2009.11.18 06:22, Veens said:

                      I hae not seen “The Wizard of Oz” but I think i must see it :)

                      I have this eBook and I am sure I will get to it after the one I am currently reading!

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                      • At 2009.11.19 11:50, Amy said:

                        Thank you for spending the month of November discussing Neil Gaiman. You have helped me find a new author to help me entice my daughter to read more.

                        Thanks!

                        • At 2009.11.20 11:32, unfinishedperson said:

                          I’ve read a few Gaiman, this being the first, and this was my favorite. I like how you made the comparison with Oz. Interesting take. Will be adding your link to the bottom of my review later here today.

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                          • At 2009.11.20 23:30, Neverwhere « Just A (Reading) Fool said:

                            […] Jennifer @ The Literate Housewife Review […]

                            • At 2009.11.21 15:48, christine (booktumbling) said:

                              I have just recently discovered Neil Gaiman and gung-ho to read more of his books. I have this one waiting patiently for me. Great review – I am even more excited!

                              • At 2009.11.22 22:49, Michael Herdegen said:

                                sounds great, one i may have to read.

                                • At 2009.11.23 10:04, Pam R. said:

                                  Sounds like fun! I love the Wizard of Oz!

                                  • At 2009.11.24 23:11, S. Krishna said:

                                    I remember really liking this book when I read it. Great review, and great comparison!

                                    • At 2009.11.26 00:21, Donna Sb said:

                                      Thanks for sharing. I found Neverwhere to be a very interesting and thought provoking book.

                                      • At 2009.12.03 02:38, heidenkind said:

                                        I really enjoyed this book when I read it. I was surprised to find out Gaiman originally wrote it as a screenplay, and then wrote the novel–it doesn’t read like that at all.

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