Thursday, February 20, 2014

Neverwhere (4 of 145)

One Sentence Summary: Ordinary good guy Richard Mayhew's life dissolves around him when he saves a
panic-stricken young girl on the streets of London and is thrust into the midst of a sinister plot in an alternate underside London as a result.

Subtitle: Some doors should just stay closed.

“There are four simple ways for the observant to tell Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar apart: first, Mr. Vandemar is two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup; second, Mr. Croup has eyes of a faded china blue, while Mr. Vandemar's eyes are brown; third, while Mr. Vandemar fashioned the rings he wears on his right hand out of the skulls of four ravens, Mr. Croup has no obvious jewelery; fourth, Mr. Croup likes words, while Mr. Vandemar is always hungry. Also, they look nothing at all alike.” 

My love-hate relationship with Neil Gaiman continues. My brother has literally been trying to get me to read Neverwhere for years. He knew I would love nearly everything about it: the beautifully cultivated darkness of the atmosphere, the quest oriented story-line, deception, betrayal and, most importantly, the character of the London Underground. I have this thing about trains and subways that will become increasingly apparent because if there is even the slightest mention of either in a book, I am more likely to forgive other trespasses. Not that there were so many things wrong with this story- it was actually pretty damn wonderful in most of the ways that counted.

Neil Gaiman always makes me feel a strange when I've finished reading- stuck in the strange indiscriminate place between like and love, wondering why you aren't feeling more sure of the latter. All of the pieces are there, the great plot, unforgettable characters, witty bits, a world you can hunker right down into and stay for a while, so you start rooting through your pockets for the bitter seed that keeps you from really and truly loving it. I think I finally know what it is, for me, at least. I find Neil Gaiman to be a good writer, but a truly great story-teller. This is a man I would love to sit across the campfire from, having him regale us long into the night- or someone I would set out on a great journey with, letting him wear my ears down with the passing miles and enjoying every second of it. What he lacks in technical genius, he makes up for in a creative muscle that is so finely tuned that it is has carried him to the top of more than one genre. So yes, upon thinking it through more thoroughly, I really do love Neil Gaiman. I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane recently and it occurred to me that I had rarely read a stand-alone story with such a beautiful sureness of story, character, and its elements of magic. Gaiman's fantasy comes straight from the heart, from that basic part of being that spurred the first storyteller to stand up and hold an audience captive. That comes across in Neverwhere, just as it does in all of his work.

I absolutely loved the world he created, the dark London seething beneath the surface with all of its bizarre denizens, whacked out versions of nobility and perfectly sinister assassins. It has been such a long time since I read a book until two in the morning, but that is where I found myself this very dark AM, looking at the clock on my phone and being earnestly confused about when, you know, time happened. I am going to have to read this again in London. Maybe I'll just hope on the Underground and consume it cover to cover in the very place where it most belongs. I actually don't know what I'm quibbling about. This book was awesome. Go read this book.

Sidenote: Speaking of spooky books, my current read is Rebecca, which is apparently something I must expose myself to if I am going to continue in the vein of writing ghost stories or thrillers of any kind. I'm extremely excited. After that, I am going to read the fourth Harry Potter, so it will be a little break in the project.

I Recommend To: anyone who likes a well-crafted world, anyone who likes a good chill
I Do Not Recommend To: people who like happy, shiny books with happy, shiny endings, people who are afraid of the dark

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