Get to the Point, Book Reviews: Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

This is a regular, but not frequent, blog series entitled Get to the Point, Book Reviews.

Book Review Rules:
1. Get to the point.
– No drawn out hemming and hawing about recommending the book.
– The answer will either be “yes” or “no” followed up with points that are
relevant to the recommendation.

2. Honesty.
– No need for exaggeration or belaboring a point.
– I’m not into trashing authors or their works.

3. No Delving or Deep Diving
– I hate reading reviews where everything about a book is outlined, in which case, I become immediately disinclined to read the book for myself.
– I will leave room for discovery. Character names, situations, plot, etc. may or may not be a point of discussion.

The book may (or may not) work for me personally but that’s not to say it didn’t do wonders for (or fail) someone else.

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Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
Would I recommend this book?
Yes.

Outstanding Quote

“I have always felt,” he said, “that violence was the last refuge of the incompetent, and empty threats the final sanctuary of the terminally inept.” Marquis de Carabas

The Goods

1. Urban fantasy. Good urban fantasy. Gaiman created entirely new groups of humanoids and creatures, all living in the “London below.” No rehashing of elves and dwarves here, thank you very much.

Gaiman, thankfully, does not strictly define any new group with cultural norms (save the marketplace rules that all creatures of the London below must abide by), or outline abilities, which leaves you guessing as to who can do what, and why, and for how long.

This point alone is why I recommend, Neverwhere. Good urban fantasy is hard to come by. Perhaps I’m asking for too much, I don’t know. But I’m impressed with the world Gaiman created. This concept of a “below” world really tapped into an idea that is, I believe, shared by a lot of people. When we think of world beyond on our own, some people dwell on the idea of an afterlife, others may contemplate a multi-verse or life on another planet, and yet others may simply look down.

2. Strong side characters, specifically the Marquis de Carabas, Hunter, and Old Bailey. And equally strong villains: Islington, and Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar (my personal favorites). It feels wrong to label them as secondary characters as they move the MCs ever forward. *In fact, I relied heavily on the side characters for momentum as I read.*

I can safely say, the Marquis de Carabas steals the show. Honestly, this character ought to be the MC in his own story.

Mr. Coup and Mr. Vandemar were wonderfully original, villainous characters.

3. Excellent humor dialogue and musings are written throughout the novel. I enjoy the odd quip in Neverwhere, although that seems to be a point of irritation for many readers.

4. Excellent pacing.

The Not So Good

1. I can’t believe I’m saying this but the MCs were not my favorite. It just goes to show, sometimes you, as the reader, may not bond with a main character and yet you can still enjoy, and even recommend, the book.

The MCs, Richard Mayhew and Door (yes, that’s the name, Door), I would best describe them as watery soup. Thin, some flavor, but not robust, definitely not filling. *To expand on my thought earlier the MCs failed to provide real traction, and the secondary characters did the heavy lifting in moving the story forward.*

Richard could be charmingly befuddled and naive, sure, but if that’s his character then dive into it. Own the stupidity. Own the awkwardness. Own the fear. Richard was far too nonchalant during all his major transitions: becoming invisible in society, to falling in between the cracks, becoming a resident of London below.

Door had even less personality. Door had no real temperament as a person. She did possess some backstory but that did nothing to flesh her out individually. Door was distressed when she was meant to be distressed, tired when she was meant to be tired, giggly when she was meant to be giggly, etc. Put it this way, any actress could play her in a movie and you wouldn’t have a strong feeling about it; the idea of Door is interchangeable. Comparatively, you would have strong opinions about who would play the Marquis de Carabas, Hunter, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. Door had one interesting attribute in that she can open doors (visible or not, locked or not).

So, one point here. That point just happened to be a sizeable one.

What are your thoughts? Please share below.

Cheers,
www.ArmedWithCoffee.com
@gnrmuggle

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