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122 of 124 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

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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 19 months ago by PatM


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122 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind the Gap, 14 Dec 2004
By 
Friederike Knabe "Books are funny little port... (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Neverwhere (Mass Market Paperback)
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]
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will never look at London with the same eyes again., 2 Nov 2002
By 
Penguin Egg (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Neverwhere (Mass Market Paperback)
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.
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170 of 180 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warning: Buy British!!!, 20 Sep 2002
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!
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67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind the Gap..., 14 Jun 2006
By 
This review is from: Neverwhere (Paperback)
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.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaiman's Great and Secret Show, 19 Sep 2002
This review is from: Neverwhere (Mass Market Paperback)
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 14 Feb 2006
By 
kehs (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Neverwhere (Mass Market Paperback)
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neverwhere, 18 Mar 2005
By 
This review is from: Neverwhere (Mass Market Paperback)
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody good, 3 July 2003
This review is from: Neverwhere (Mass Market Paperback)
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The genius of fantasy..., 14 July 2008
This review is from: Neverwhere (Paperback)
Neverwhere is a dark, atmospheric and extremely well written example of the genius of fantasy... it can by blowing our minds with strange new realms and worlds weave in poignant reflections and observations of our world, whether you acknowledge these undercurrents or simply enjoy the magic and escape it's what we connect to. Gaiman explores the issue of homelessness by taking a bemused office worker named Richard Mayhew out of the comfort of daily London life, this character is the epitome of the individual who lives a structured and normal life, proposing to his girlfriend because it's the appropriate next step and just screaming out for something different with his troll figures that he puts on his desk because he thinks it makes him look more interesting. He is plunged into the complex and fascinating world of London below, comprised of people no longer part of the staple of society, people who are homeless by choice and others who have been discarded by the world, and oh my the characters created are very good, the rat people, the caring but pessimistic monks, who can handle a fight. I'll agree with some of the other reviewers and say there are touches of predictability to the story but it's like a fairy tale quest in structure and I love that about it.

After helping an injured girl named Lady Door who's been orphaned and is being chased by the villainess Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar who killed her family Richard becomes one of the many faceless people who occupy the alleys and dark places of London. By helping Door discover the reason for her family's death he hopes to get back to London above, what they discover is a powerful huntress, a mad Earl, a kindly Old Bailey, a viscous beast, an witty Marquis, an irate angel and the destruction of the hope of equality to a society that works by what you can scrounge not what you earn, occupied by people who do what they want. But that's this fantasy worlds charm and its got plenty of charm. Richards's voice is engaging, funny and observes the parade of bizarreness and detailed oddities with a detached sort of uncaring, who cares if it's real when he just wants to go home? This is a very good book and definitely worth buying and keeping and reading over and over.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A really really enjoyable read., 21 Sep 2005
By 
Mr. J. A. Tawton "James Tawton" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Neverwhere (Mass Market Paperback)
Not as dark as Sandman but no less enveloping, Neverwhere is a wonderful piece of escapism from an author who's made a career out of creating universes and populating them with weird and wonderful people and creatures. The story of Richard Mayhew, a wayward Scot in a dead-end London existence, takes you beneath the seething city and into a medieval underworld where life is cheap and time has stalled, allowing Olde England to flourish with magic and mystery. The story is full of typical Gaiman intricacies and has well-rounded characters with personalities and histories pouring out of the page. This makes for, again typically, compulsive reading and this is perhaps where the only complaint comes in.
Neverwhere just isn't long enough. It's a real pocket paperback book and, whether Gaiman was contracted to write to such a length, or whether he maybe ran out of steam, it really lets it down. So as not to spoil the plot I won't specify where, but there are certain sections that really rush by, but don't aid the plot by doing so, nor would they hamper the rhythm by stretching out a bit. Perhaps this is the grudging moaning of someone who just wishes the book were longer, but an extended version of this book would turn it into a novel of note, and no doubt push Gaiman's star ever higher in the consciousness of the reading world.
A fine, fine achievement nevertheless, thoroughly recommended and altogether a welcome escape from the risible outpouring of tragic novels to have appeared in the last 10 years.
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