139 of 141 people found the following review helpful
Mind the Gap
, 14 Dec. 2004
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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