WHAT’S PLAYING: Colbie Callait “I Never Told You”
My little bout with pneumonia has put me behind in my reading. So, for the next two weeks, I’ll be reviewing two books instead of the usual one.
The first book for this week is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.
While rushing to a dinner engagement with his ambitious fiancée, Richard Mayhew stumbles over an injured girl on the sidewalk and decides to help. This act of kindness irrevocably changes his life. Through the mysterious Lady Door, Richard discovers London Below, a thriving world that lies beneath the mundane reality of our everyday lives. After his encounter with Lady Door, Richard discovers that he has become invisible to his friends, colleagues, even his erstwhile fiancée. His only hope of staying alive long enough to return home lies with the Lady Door in the fantastical land of London Below.
As usual, Gaiman proves himself a master at creating the weird and wondrous, with characters ranging from the benign to the stunningly evil. Each one is drawn with the same luxuriant attention to detail, while still leaving a lot to the reader’s imagination.
To my mind what really proves Gaiman’s effectiveness as an author in these pages is how easy he makes it to believe in the existence of this other world beneath our feet. Where do the people go who have slipped between the cracks in our society? Adding to the believability of the situation is Gaiman’s refusal to romanticize people or their circumstances. London Below is no paradise. There is starvation, famine, and crime down there just as much as there is above ground
My only issue with this novel has to do with Richard’s attitude. He follows Door around like a lost puppy, begging her to let him come with them – which makes a hell of a lot of sense, seeing as how it’s his best chance of survival – and then he turns into a bit of whiny jerk. For example, when she tells him that they’re going to see an angel, he insists that there’s no such thing as angels. I don’t know about you, but if my only chance of survival lay with a group of people who believed in angels, I’d sing Hosanna until the cows came home and keep any snarky comments to myself.
Favorite Line/Image: Mr. Croup was in a cold fury. He was walking twice as fast as Mr. Vandemar, circling him, and almost dancing in his anger. At times, as if unable to contain the rage inside, Mr. Croup would fling himself at the hospital wall, physically attack it with his fists and feet, as if it were a poor substitute for a real person. Mr. Vandemar, on the other hand, simply walked. It was too consistent, too steady and inexorable a walk to be described as a stroll: Death walked like Mr. Vandemar.
What I learned: The great thing about this book is that it speaks to something deep within human nature. We all crave identity. As Richard discovers, when you are no longer given recognitions status unless you are self-assured and aware, you can quickly become lost.
Bottom line: Neverwhere is a wonderful adventure story about a journey through a vast underground world full of wonders and horrors. It is also about the same journey we each can choose to make through our own world of wonder and horrors that lies within us. Enjoy it for the story, and think about it for yourself.