While my first two novels appear to be unread as part of Cannonball Read, I am absolutely positive that my third choice of book has been reviewed multiple times. After years of owning the novel, I finally picked up Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. My sister purchased it for me many years ago, as I have a fascination for the London Underground system. I am glad I waited until now to read it, as I was a bit of snoot back in my younger days and could not be bothered with something as uncool as fantasy or science fiction books. That goodness I have dropped that idiotic attitude!
But enough about that, and onto the review. Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, an ordinary Londoner who one day finds himself in another world called London Below. While London Below has many similarities to our notion of London Above, it is an entirely different and more dangerous place. London Below has magic, swashbucklers, rats who can communicate, and other odd fantasies. Richard is completely unable to cope with his new surroundings, and the book focuses on his ineptitude along the journey with his new friend, Door.
I must say that this is only my second book by Neil Gaiman, so I am a relatively new and uneducated fan of his works. However, I still recognized his style of writing from American Gods (my only other read) even though apparently Neverwhere was his first solo novel. As with American Gods, I really enjoyed being plopped into a world where both the main character and the reader do not understand what is going on. In Neverwhere, the reader learns the rules of London Below alongside Richard. It is a journey of discovery for everyone, and quite and enjoyable and quick read. I wanted to keep reading just to see more of London Below.
Luckily for me, I just got back from a trip to London a few weeks ago, so I was primed with geographical knowledge of the city. Knowing London is not necessary to like Neverwhere, but I certainly enjoyed it more. Plus I think I accidentally read a revised version of the novel, which might have dumbed down the geography of London Underground (according to Wikipedia). Oh well.
All in all, I enjoyed the book, and was quite good.