125 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind the Gap
Everybody traveling in London by Tube, is familiar with the loudspeaker's warning "Mind the Gap", that is the space between platform and train carriage. Reading Gaiman, "Gaps" takes on a much more complex meaning... People can fall through the cracks, literally, not only down onto the rails but much deeper, ending up in "London Below". Richard Mayhew, a young man with...
Published on 14 Dec 2004 by Friederike Knabe
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disapointing
The premise of this story is great, a hidden London below ours. Sounds amazing! I loved American Gods so I was expecting great things and although it was a fairly enjoyable read, Neverwhere was a bit underwhelming. I was never fully engaged with this world nor with the characters. Somehow it just felt a bit thin and I actually thought that I was reading young adult...
Published 22 months ago by PatM
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125 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind the Gap,
Everybody traveling in London by Tube, is familiar with the loudspeaker's warning "Mind the Gap", that is the space between platform and train carriage. Reading Gaiman, "Gaps" takes on a much more complex meaning... People can fall through the cracks, literally, not only down onto the rails but much deeper, ending up in "London Below". Richard Mayhew, a young man with nothing much happening in his life, is an unlikely Samaritan. Still, when confronted with a choice he follows his charitable instinct and assists a wounded rag girl he finds lying in the street. To save her from her apparent killers he goes on a quest and from this moment his life turns into a rollercoaster of discovery and danger.
"Neverwhere" is a brilliant yarn of life in the underbelly of the city, with shady human characters, speaking rats and special "guides". There is more than one reality for sure. In London Above, Richard and the rag girl, named appropriately "Door", can be seen but not recalled beyond the moment. The real-life maze of London underground tunnels, hidden passageways and dead ends provide the existent, yet twisted, backdrop to the story. Time and distances have no meaning. The names of tube stations acquire new relevance: the Earl resides at Earl's Court, the black Friar monks are in Blackfriars and Islington is an Angel. Following Door and her unusual companions, Richard discovers the limits of his endurance. He has to question his existence and reality. While his desire to get back to his normal life keeps him going, his chances to shake loose from the shadowy underworld increasingly appear to diminish...
The novel, which expands on Gaiman's successful tv production, is a fascinating read, whether you know London or not (yet). His style is fluid and engaging, his characters are very much alive and moving the various layers of intrigue along at a good pace. [Friederike Knabe]
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will never look at London with the same eyes again.,
Neil Gaiman's 'Underside' is a delight from start to finish. Richard Mayhew, a young Scot living and working in London, finds himself helping a young girl lying in a street who is being pursued by two sinister looking men. Reluctantly, he finds himself being drawn into a tangled web of a plot that leads him to an London Below, a London that exists both beneath London and as a parallel alternative universe London, a London where people live who 'fall through the cracks.' This London is highly inventive, richly detailed, and, despite the unrealness of it, convincing. I, for one, will never be able to take the London Underground again and wonder about the trains with darkened windows that go though the stations without stopping ' Do they carry the court of the Earl on it? And how did Earl's Court get its name? Or Baron's Court, for that matter? I shall certainly never go to Harrods or go on board HMS Belfast without thinking of the Floating Market. London Below is peopled with colourful and strange characters ' The Lady Door, The Marquis de Carabas, Hunter, The Angel Islington, (now didn't you just wonder how The Angel Islington got its name?) and many others, including the menacing Mr Vandemar and Mr Croup. This is the sort of book that Michael Moorcock would be writing if he was still writing decent books. Even if you don't know London, this book is still wonderful ' you will want to get to know it. The story is gripping and the writing is vivid and sharp. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Gaiman, by far, is the best writer writing fantasy today.
173 of 183 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warning: Buy British!!!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Neverwhere (Hardcover)
Neverwhere is a fantastic piece of modern fantasy and I suggest that everyone who likes London and the surreal read it. I give it 5 stars, usually, but... DO NOT BUY THE AMERICAN VERSION!!! This is a British book, and the American version has been sorely edited. And I'm not talking about the second prologue, either. All my favorite lines are missing from the Avon printing. Apperantly Americans couldn't handle funny lines in serious scenes... So he edited out much good humour. Look, it's less good. Buy British!
67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind the Gap...,
Richard Mayhew has just been "a Good Samaritan" to a girl lying bleeding on a London pavement, and has thereby ruined his entire life. The girl, you see, a young lady by the name of Door, is an important person in the world of "London Below", and some very unpleasant people are trying to kill her. By hiding her, Richard becomes "one of the people who fell through the cracks", invisible to the inhabitants of the normal world - London Above -and easy prey for the terrifying creatures of London Below. Until he finds Door again, and is sucked into her quest to find the murderers of her family...
Gaiman has created an eerie otherworld in the sewers of London and the tunnels and stations of the Underground that is complete in every detail and so interwoven with the "real" world that its frightening. Never having been to London, I'm starting to be a bit scared of the Tube Stations: real shepards at Shepards Bush (ones you don't ever want to meet), an earl in Earl's Court, saxophone players who live both in the Above and the Below, Old Bailey and Hammersmith are people, Knightsbridge is a bad neighbourhood...
And at the end you are left with enough answers to satisfy as concerns the main plotline, but not all the answers you want. There is so much detail in London Below that there are thousands of things begging to be explored and examined: The system of fiefdoms which apparently rules Below, but which is never really explained, the importance of Door's family, the Seven Sisters, the story of the swashbuckling, sardonic Marquis de Carabas (books could be written about him, he is undoubtably my favourite character) and more; really the list could go on forever. But that is what makes it all so convincing: Gaiman wastes no time explaining anything, he just tells the story. The spooky atmosphere and fast pace ensure that the somewhat predictable plot never gets boring - you don't even realise it was predictable until you come to the big showdown. And the end is just perfect.
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman's Great and Secret Show,
Neil Gaiman is a favourite writer of mine and this is a good showcase for his talent for his dark and potent imagination. Magically he takes that famously surreal map of the London Underground and twists it into something far stranger that lies beneath and behind the real London - a place where the famous station names come alive. Here we have a real angel called Islington, a Earl who holds court on his own underground carriage and a group of religious recluses known as the Black Friars (to name but a few).
As with all Gaiman's work, there is a great deal of dark themes in the book (The streets of London Below owe a lot to those areas of London above where the homeless live) and Gaiman makes sure this doesn't turn into a simple one joke idea. His characterisations are absolutely fantastic. Whilst Richard (the hero) is a fairly bland innocent abroad, he balances him against the sly, old Marquis de Carabas and the pantomime villany of Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar - a pair of vicious (and yet comic) characters who look to have shambled straight out of a Victorian nightmare.
The story itself is taut, beautifully-written, thought-provoking and a pleasure to read. Not a long read but one I'm sure you will come back to time after time.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!,
This book is about another world that lives beneath the London that we know - London Under, which is an out of kilter, time warpish setting. The characters are amazing - Richard who falls through the crack of London Above, Old Bailey, the Black Friars, the Seven Sisters and Angel Islington. Gaiman has been amazingly clever by literally bringing tube stations to life and making them into real characters. The reader gets to learn about sealed off tube stations (that I never knew existed), and the true reason for 'minding the gap'- I will always give that a huge berth from now on - and will never be able to travel on the tube again without looking over my shoulder or looking out for ghost stations. I would call this a brilliant fantasy thriller that is full of humerous moments, along with quite toe-curling horrific scenes. Oh, and if, like me, when you finish the book you feel the need to know more about the sealed tube stations, there are several interesting sites to be found.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars READ THIS BOOK,
A Kid's Review
This story is uttery brilliant. It starts off like it is going to be a realistic novel but as you read on you get more and more attached to it. Its surreal twist of worlds grabs your imagination. I doubt anyone would be dissapointed with this novel. Neverwhere is the first Neil Gaiman book i read and i am already looking on amazon for more books by Neil Gaiman. I know it is not likely to happen but i really hope there is a follow up from Neverwhere. The ending leaves you happy but sad that it has ended and desperate to read more. This might seem a bit dramatic but it kind of of book that leaves you lonely when it ends as the story is sort of like a friend. You learn more about it and don't wish to leave it. when you finnish the novel it seems like it posesses that same empty feeling as one experiences when you have just had your family round for say a week and then they go and the house feels empty. I deeply recommend this book, i am only 13 but i understood it i think it is more for people a little older than i so i wouldn't recommend it to someone below my age.READ IT. If you open your mind to it, then it will be in your top 10 books.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neverwhere,
This was impressive writing. I was caught in the world of Richard Mayhew and could not leave it until the last page was turned. What a strange world Gaiman describes - an underworld to our world.
When Richard Mayhew comes into contact with Door, he somehow ceases to exist in the overworld - or our world. People don't see him any longer, and there is no electronic record of his existence. So Richard goes into the underworld to find Door and get his old life back. After having found her, he joins in her quest and this in turn changes him.
My 4 comes from the ending of the book. It was a bit obvious. But this book was a thoroughly enjoyable read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody good,
Neverwhere was by far one of my most enjoyable books. I was intoxicated by the author's ability to shape words and meanings so uniquely. The man has style. He has wit. He has a bloody good story, and no naff characters. The story: A guy from Scotland moves to London to get a job and a new life. And somewhere along the line he "Slips through the cracks" into another world that exist underneath London. All the characters are shaped so wonderfully and given such honesty that there is no none-entities as I have sometimes found in other books. I hate giving the story away so I'll just finish off by saying that everyone I've leant the book to has enjoyed it...and not all of them have my taste. The book carries a unique philosophy that will open your eyes to the world around you, and not just look straight ahead like the rest of the commuters you share your carraige with on the underground, giving you the refreshing "WAKE UP" you need.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intuitive modern day fantasy at its best.,
This is an intelligently, darkly written modern fantasy at its best. The characters are vivid and the images are all charmingly un-hinged and eccentric. Gaiman creates "the other London" - a London existing underneath our mundane world. This is Tolkein, Kafka, C.S Lewis and Pratchett all spiralled and spun into one demented mixture (though not necessarily in that order).
The main character Richard - an ordinary 30 something businessman - is inadvertently sucked into this other world by helping a young girl. His quest to "get back home" to the world above the underground throughout the entire novel only seems to heighten the dark characters and the fantastical nature of this bizarre, eccentrically charged world. The beautiful, yet quirky Door, Old Bailey, the irascible Marquis de Carabas, and the inhumane brutality of the villains Mr. Croup and Vandermar are all terrifyingly, yet wonderfully vivid and fantastical. This is how THE TEMPEST would have read had it been dreamt up by an intoxicated rock band from hell.
Coming to Gaiman for the first time, I was slightly dubious as I skimmed over the dark cover of the novel for the first time in a book shop. I let it settle for a while on my coffee table as I got home. But when I eventually picked it up I was hooked from the first page onwards. Not only is it a suspense thriller, its also a beautifully written journey through fairy land, through insanity, and heaven and hell, through light and through darkness.
I was unable to put it down even as the birds began to sing again in the dark of the twighlit hours of the morning - a fitting setting to the black, bohemian and slightly demented world of Under London, tinged with flashes of comic genius. I will never look at a tube station in the same way again. Truly worth a read. Highly recommended...
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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Audio CD - 5 Sep 2013)