Neil Gaiman is one of my biggest literary heroes. Along with Margaret Atwood and Gregory Maguire, he’s one of those authors whose work speaks to me on some weird, writer-to-writer level. I read a Gaiman book, and there’s something inside of me that says, “I’m gonna do that one day!”
I haven’t been reading Neil Gaiman for very long; it’s been just a bit over a year, now. I started with American Gods, which my darling friend Anna gifted to me, then put all of Gaiman’s books onto my Christmas 2011 list. It was, perhaps, one of the greatest choices I ever made.
Neverwhere isn’t one of the books Gaiman is best known for. When someone asks you, “Who the heck is this Neil Gaiman fellow you’re so besotted with?” your answer is like to be, “I’m not BESOTTED! Shut up!” After that, you’d probably inform the questioner that Gaiman is the genius behind American Gods, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), the Sandman comics, and Coraline. And that’s a shame, because Neverwhere is brilliant.
The book follows Richard Mayhew, a very simple, boring man with a very simple, boring life. An act of kindness to a bleeding stranger turns Richard’s boring life upside-down and forces him into the strange, dangerous world of London Below. This book has everything: terrifying assassins, bad ass chick body guards, creepy angels, people who can talk to rats, Floating Markets, and so much more.
At the same time, though, Neverwhere isn’t Gaiman’s best book. It’s one of his earlier books, I believe, and Gaiman definitely gets better with every book. Neverwhere definitely feels like a Gaiman book — I can see his sense of character and narrative growing.
When I read The Eyre Affair, I was disappointed by the gulf between it and Fforde’s later work, which I had read first. But in reading Neverwhere, I enjoyed seeing how Gaiman’s work has developed. I think the biggest difference is Neverwhere, while not quite as fantastic as some of Gaiman’s other work, is exactly what it needs to be.
So in conclusion, go read Neverwhere, and start wondering about what sort of world might exist right below your feet. Or go read any Neil Gaiman book. You won’t be disappointed.
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