Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Neverwhere

I deemed myself a Neil Gaiman fan a number of years ago and yet I have only read a handful of his books. It makes me think I’m a bad fan, to have so little experience with his books, but there is more to my fascination of Neil Gaiman than just his writing. I follow his twitter which is endlessly entertaining and even his blog posts are beautifully written and sometimes comical. The advice he gives out to people on tumblr is endlessly amusing, in my opinion, and I just think he is brilliant. Also, people I know have met him and forever praise how down to earth he is. All around, I enjoy that this author seems intelligent, funny and all around awesome.

When I read books by Gaiman I am always left thinking, “How will I give this book justice when I talk about it?” Gaiman is the type of writer that I wish I could be. I wish my mind could be that wild and crazy and articulate and that I could write something that leaves a reader like a roller coaster enthusiast – dizzy but wanting more.

Beginning Neverwhere was a bit of a struggle for me because I was extremely busy. Working a lot of extra hours with editing and tutoring, plus preparing for the holidays and a trip to Florida – I just didn’t have the time to devote to the book. That seems to always be the case when I begin reading a Gaiman book, I need to place a good amount of time aside to sit down and just start reading. For Neverwhere (and I’ve felt this way with other Gaiman books) you have to get yourself settled and ready for the ride. Because it is a ride, mind you, you’re always taken somewhere Else with his writing. Somewhere Far and Away and in this case you are being brought to London Below. What a marvelous concept (which I think may or may not have popped up in various sci-fi books or movies?) – a copy (of sorts) of a city but still completely different. This idea could be done very poorly but, of course, Gaiman creates a world that seems very, very possible.

Richard Mayhew, our main character, is a man as typical and normal as you and I, but he’s sucked into London Below and brought into an elaborate search and plot while attempting to understand the rules of this new world. All of this is due to coming across the small girl with weird eyes that came tumbling out in London Above (aka: regular London), a girl named Door. There are secrets and a matter of "who to trust", creatures that only exist in nightmares, Rat People, resurrection and the power of being able to open and close doors with a touch of the hand and concentration of the mind.

Once my life calmed down a little and I had the time to properly read, I flew through this book. I had such a hard time putting it down when I would be reading it and many a night fell asleep with it in my bed. I just didn’t want to stop reading because it was that fabulous. I wanted, after every page, to turn to the next to find out what would happen. I wanted so very much, when the book ended. to have another chapter, maybe just another page, so that I didn’t quite have to leave the book just yet.

I think it’s safe to say that this is my favorite Gaiman book. I was so sad when I finished reading it and it took me days before I could bring myself to pick up another book to read. That's when I know a book has fully captured my attention. The main character might not be the most exciting but the supporting cast is fascinating and lively. Good or bad, it's all so interesting. Once I was fully immersed in this book I kept thinking, "I should have read this sooner. Why did I wait?" Reading other reviews I've seen a very straight forward response: either readers have absolutely loved it and placed it on the top of their favorite books pedestal or they just didn't like it at all. Period. I think it's somewhat clear what category I have fallen into. I feel that this very well could be a great first Neil Gaiman book for people to read. Now, my opinion of that may change in the future because I have so many other Gaiman books waiting to be devoured but for now it stands as such.

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