Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Posted on 09 May 2018

I've been wanting to read something by Neil Gaiman for so long. Neverwhere was a unanimous choice on FB groups so, I picked it up.

The premise is very interesting- Richard Mayhew, an ordinary guy with an overbearing fiancee finds a girl bleeding on the streets and takes her home, only to be drawn into the intriguing world of London underground. I thought this book was going to be more of a mystery but turned out to be more of an adventure.

Let's start with the pros first. I like Gaiman's prose. His words flow well, and his sense of humor is effortless, and his observations about London made me laugh. I used to live in the UK before and parts of this book made me nostalgic (e.g. the underground stations, curry etc.).

I also immensely enjoyed the narration. Neil Gaiman is a fantastic narrator, and the sound effects help bring the book to life. I read parts of the book as an ebook but think it flows much better as an audiobook because the POV changes are marked with music. This book has so many POV changes in one chapter so that helps.

The cons were lack of a coherent plot, lack of any strong emotions and a sagging middle. The book started out really well but the middle was way too long. For a book this long, I didn't feel it had enough plot, especially when you consider the promise of the premise. Also, the stakes weren't high enough. While reading the book I never felt the characters were in any actual danger, because even the villains are funny. There was no progressive raising of stakes. Compared to the beginning, the tension pretty much goes downhill. I thought there were going to be more twists and just more action in general, but slow pacing killed the suspense. The ending was okay, though.

I also didn't feel any strong emotions while or after reading the book. As a reader, I want to take something away from a book, but I felt Neverwhere didn't really touch me in any way. I feel the suspense and mystery could've been played up to evoke more emotion. At the end of the book, I didn't really understand what the point of reading this book was.

Overall, Neverwhere is still a decent read, especially if you lean towards British authors, and/or good prose. I gave it 3.75 stars for the fantastic narration, strong prose, and humor.

Pros

Good quality writing (purple prose, even)
Unique premise
Humor
Great narration

Cons

Doesn't evoke any strong emotions
Lacks plot
The suspense could've been played up
Sagging middle
Rating:  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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