Review: Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

neverwhere neil gaimanRating: ★★★☆☆

Genres: Fantasy

Goodreads

Neverwhere is the story of Richard, who leads a perfectly normal life in London with a perfectly normal job and is engaged to the beautiful Jessica – until the day he decides to save a strange girl named Door and his life is turned upside down. Suddenly no one else can see him. He no longer exists in the London he knows – in fact, the only people who see him now belong to the world of the strange girl he saved, in London Below.

Neverwhere was such an entertaining read, I was very impressed by the world building, how dark, vivid and enticing it was, and was so many times enchanted by the writing. I do love a witty, dark style, and Neil Gaiman surely did that. He managed to create villains so unapologetically caricatures of themselves that it just worked – their comical evilness was delightful to read!

In the end, however, the story did fall into the usual tropes, same old fantasy characters dumped into a slightly different different world. Even the “more than one London, in which at least one is magical” trope is overused at this point. Perhaps when this book came out it was not as cliché, but by now this does not feel like anything new. The plot twists were mostly predictable, as was the ending. This, I suppose, makes for a very comfortable read, and if you’re looking for a fun read that feels quite familiar, you’ll enjoy this.

I didn’t love the way that the character of Hunter was treated, for example, with her foreignness being something so often compared to sex, neither was I entirely happy with how the main character assessed the desirability of basically every woman and girl he encountered. We can assume Richard is mostly a full grown adult as he’s engaged to Jessica for over a year and has a stable job, but there’s still hints of romance between him and Door, who is a teen. I was also more interested in Door as a character than him, who was just the usual ordinary-boy-thrown-into-crazy-fantasy-world and a tool to introduce us to the magic and the world, and I hoped the story would have been told from her point of view instead.

It was a bit exhausting to keep overlooking these things, and eventually I wasn’t as excited about the story as I was in the beginning. Therefore, I’m giving it a rather lukewarm rating.

12 thoughts on “Review: Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

  1. Great review! I’ve been wanting to read this one, but it’s good to know beforehand that it’s become a bit trope-y over time. It does sound like a good choice for October though!

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  2. Fantastic review! I own this one but haven’t read it yet, a bit sad that it didn’t quite hit the mark for you, but plots with tired tropes are difficult for me as well so I get it.

    I’ve really only read Good Omens and American Gods, both of which I love wholeheartedly. Hopefully that means I will enjoy his other work, but I also haven’t read these books in like 5+ years so what if I don’t like them now?!?!!?

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    • Thanks, Kal!! I think someone said in the comments that this feels tropey because also it was one of the first books introducing those tropes in the first place – it’s not such a new release. But it was really fun and I think you will like it! I also have The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which I’m really curious to read!

      Ohhh I’ve been meaning to read Good Omens, it just sounds so good!

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    • Maybe, it makes sense! I think this book is over 15 years old by now? I don’t quite remember when it got published. I also own The Ocean at the End of the Lane, have you read it?

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  4. Great review! I am still to try Neil Gaiman, and I think I will have the same reaction as you to this book. London is actually the last place I want to read about in my books because I have a daily contact with it and want to escape somewhere else – even if that contact is “magical”. It is also a pity that there are usual tropes and predictable endings in the story. Still, I agree that Gaiman should be praised for his creativity. I mean, his tropes now feel “done-to-death”, but that maybe also because so many other writers copied him. I mean, he is sometimes jokingly credited as the co-creator of Harry Potter. Gaiman’s book “The Book of Magic” (1988) and its protagonist have similarities to HP, which Rowling could have used.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know about this similarities between both books! Thank you for bringing that to my attention, I will look it up.

      I think there are other books from Gaiman that aren’t set in London – although to be fair, this is my first Gaiman book so I am not sure about that. I completely understand wanting to read a fantasy book that isn’t set in the place you already live in.

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