Monday, August 31, 2015

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Reviewed by Ambrea

Richard Mayhew is an ordinary young man with an ordinary job, a girl friend, and an ordinary life, but, when he stops to help a mysterious girl he finds wounded on a sidewalk in London, his life changes forever.  Suddenly thrust into a world he never knew existed, a London Below that mirrors London Above, he becomes embroiled in a strange and terrifying mystery—and he must learn to survive in a new world where monsters, saints, murderers and angels are the norm.

When I first dived into Neverwhere, I really wasn’t sure what to make of it.  Door is an endearing and (most of the time) sweet character, if only a little scary.  De Carabas is unusual, possibly dangerous, but always interesting.  And Richard Mayhew—well, I simply felt sorry for the poor guy who manages to get mixed up in all the madness.  Together, they have a very intriguing dynamic and an interesting story to weave, which, much like London Below, doesn’t always make sense.

Laced with urban legends, myth, human history, horror, and religious detritus, Neverwhere is an intriguing blend of many different things.  Although I distinctively noticed a familiar “good versus evil” trope, Neverwhere managed to make it an epic struggle for survival, life versus complete oblivion, which felt fresh and new.  However, it is a story that has no clear resolution.  The conclusion feels abrupt, leaving certain narrative threads dangling.

Likewise, I should point out that there is death involved, which is gruesome and disheartening on its own, but, coupled with Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, it’s downright bloody—and one might even say, macabre.  Moreover, I found the world under London to be incredibly frightening as I read along.  There’s something inherently terrifying about the notion of an invisible world existing beneath everything, of getting sucked into it and being completely, utterly forgotten.

Total obscurity is a frightening thing.

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