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Friday, April 28, 2006

cover of Neverwhere

Finished this in a few days. Hadn't read a fast-paced fiction book for a while, so really enjoyed this one. A man named Richard has a typical life in London, with a job, a fiancee, a flat, and some friends. One evening on the way to an important engagement, he sees a girl step out of a wall in bad condition. So he takes her back to his flat to take care of her. Little does he know that by that single act he is giving up all that he holds familiar. This leads him into a series of adventures with the girl, Door, and into situations he would never have thought possible until they became reality.

Door is the last member of a family, each of whom had the power to open and close doors -- a gift to understand how certain things worked and create doors where there were none before. This is a gift that only her family had, which has a lot to do with them all being killed. In one of her memories, her father talks about how things want to be opened and by doing so she is helping to find their true nature. Which is a fun idea. I enjoy stories having to do with true natures, or true names -- since I believe we all have them, but they so easily get hidden by our selfishness.

Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar are characters from nightmares. They enjoy causing others pain, and have much experience. Not just assassins, but evil assassins. Maybe that sounds odd, since killing is evil, but these two take delight in finding different ways to cause pain. Mr. Vandemar is always hungry and eats whatever small creature presents itself close at hand (and saves some in his pockets). Gaiman makes sure not to get too gory about explaining what happens when they find their prey, but enough is said to get the point across that certain individuals and creatures are definitely dead. These two characters are integral in creating the atmosphere of London Below, showing the extremes of those who make up this underground city.

Richard is forced to make the transition from London Above to London Below, simply because he ceases to exist in London Above. Taxi drivers won't stop, his flat is sold to someone else, if he does get someone's attention they forget about him after a few moments no matter what he does. A bit scary to ponder. But, in London Above, Richard gets to interact with pieces of old London, and Gaiman has fun with the names of underground stops, such as Blackfriars and Earl's Court. Suddenly the names are more than just titles, but realities of people. There are suggestions of similar things throughout the city, as well as in other large cities. and after getting to live such an adventurous, exciting life, if given a choice which one would you chose?

Author: Neil Gaiman
Date published:1996
Genre: Fantasy
Number of pages: 336


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