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Monday, September 25, 2006

Neverwhere

by Neil Gaiman (read September 2006)
Rating 4/5
Neverwhere is a very imaginative, entertaining and well-written fantasy. I enjoy fantasy if I read it sparingly. The reason I say this is because fantasies tend to follow the same general format. An event changes the course of events in an otherwise mundane 'real' life. The protaganist is propelled on a journey of some type where he must overcome obstacles in order to save someone in distress before returning to his mundane life, only to find it's not as appealing as he remembered it. The things that add interest to this repeating theme are the characters (the protaganist, his companions for the journey, those odd characters he meets along the way, and the bad guys), the journey's path and destination, and the obstacles he must overcome.

As I read Neverwhere I kept thinking of other books with similar plots: Stephen King's Talisman, Avi's Crisipin The Cross of Iron, David Eddings Pawn of Prophecy series. Maybe if this had been one of my first fantasy books I would have enjoyed it more. Since it was not, I have to say it was better than some books, but not great.

This is book 4 out of 5 for the Fall RIP Challenge. Since The Golem has not
shown up yet on Interlibrary Loan I am going to read The China Garden instead. It's a Young Adult gothic novel from my shelf. **Pat on the back**

19 comments:

Carl V. said...

4 out of 5! That's great. I'm within spitting distance of being there myself.

I'm thinking I'm going to have to do a Neverwhere review sometime since I have never done one and it is one of my favorite books.

You gave it a 4 out of 5 but say it 'isn't great'? I'm confused.

I am of course of the complete opposite end of the spectrum, considering it both a great read and considering Gaiman a true master in the use of language. So of course I'm completely biased by this time since I've read the book every year and get something new out of it each time.

I think all genres of writing tend to follow the same general formula for whatever genre they are. Its that whole idea of there being nothing new under the sun. I guess the best writers are able to take those conventions and either transcend them with their writing or twist them just enough to make their work stand out.

I agree with the idea that its good to take a break from whatever genre one reads regularly just to get a fresh perspective and to keep the genre from getting stale. I also think it helps keep one from so closely comparing one novel to the other of a similar type.

Thankfully we live in a world where books are relatively easy to come by and we can taste and savor so many different kinds of things. That's one of the greatest things about reading so many book blogs...its like going to different restaurant for every meal as there are so many different types of books people love and want to share with others.

Sorry to get long winded! ;)

Cam said...

I'm reading Neverwhere right now. Was driving my husband crazy earlier this evening when we had to make a trip across town & I read (at least I wasn't the one driving!). I hope to finish it this evening and will post on it soon. I am really enjoying it. Haven't read anything in the fantasy genre for years! I had never heard of Gaiman until I started reading book blogs in January. This is the first book of his that I have read.

Bellezza said...

Making the connection to Crispin is one I hadn't thought of, but a very good one. I think as readers we're so relieved when it all turns out well for our hero.

I'm surprised, like Carl, that you weren't a little more taken with it (although of course you gave it a four out of five). I was just very impressed with the imaginative turns which I never could predict, and all those creepy characters really creeped me out. But fantasy isn't for everyone, and it's not normally my first pick either.

Kailana said...

It is so sad that people don't like fantasy. I love fantasy novels, and while some of generalizations I have read do fit it, there are exceptions to every rule. Most literature can be generalized, though, there are people that say there really are only a couple plot lines. :)

I stared Neverwhere, but have not finished it yet. It is my last read for the R.I.P challenge, so I best get cracking!

booklogged said...

Carl, always enjoy your comments. I agree that Gaiman uses language (and his great imagination) to tell an interesting story. I rated Neverwhere a 4 because I thought it was really good. I didn't give it a 5 because I personally didn't think it was great. There we go again with the question, 'Why does one person absolutely love a book and another thinks it's good but not great?' Who knows why. I like reading challenges because they get you out of ruts. I've read several fantasy novels over the years and have enjoyed them all. I will definitely read more Gaiman. Yes, most books follow similar plot lines not just fantasies. It is a wonderful world where there are so many books in some many tantalizing genres. We are fortunate to be able to sample them all. (I even read a romance and western this summer - a Louis L'Amour, no less!)

Cam, look forward to your review. It's really fun to have so many people in blogdom reading and commenting on the same books.

Bellezza, I really did like this book, I'm not just crazy in love with it. Gaiman creates interesting characters. His descriptions of the tunnels made my skin crawl. And those 2 bad guys are truly gruesome, aren't they? I expected a little more out of the beast in the tunnel, though. Oh, and that angel - another biblical symbol?

Kailana, I DO like fantasy. A few of my all time favorites are fantasies. I love Pratchett's Mort, Card's Enchantment, Fforde's Eyre Affair and Gaiman's Coraline. AND I did rate Neverwhere with a 4, which means I liked it, too.

Carl V. said...

Well if you're in the mood for something in a fairy tale vein sometime I recommend Stardust but if you're in the mood for something completely different then I recommend American Gods. It is quite a big book but has alot of mythology as a foundation and is a very good, though much more adult at times, read.

I love that about books as well, everyone has their own take on them and they are so much fun to share.

Kristina said...

Everytime I see this book cross my path, my eyes linger on it for a while. I think it's a sign that I might have to read it. I think I may now that I've seen your review! :)

Myke said...

Very fun banter, everyone!

jenclair said...

I have too much difficulty in rating books to apply a point system, but I agree that many of the books I enjoy are not necessarily books I love- you know, the kind that stay forever in your consciousness in some way.

I love good fantasy, but have not read Gaiman. Coraline may be a good place to start.

Library Mama said...

I've never been a fantasy fan, but I may have to give it another try. It's been years since I picked up a fantasy (other than children's novels for work).

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

booklogged said...

Myke, you're so right - good banter. I love discussion about books. Seeing other's points of views and hearing their likes and dislikes about a book adds another dimension to the reading of that book.

Jenclair, sometimes I think about not rating the books I read. It is difficult to do sometimes.

Hi, Library Mama. All's good in my world. I'm in a cleaning mood. The weather got so cold in Utah, but has now warmed to a nice Indian summer. It's invigorating. May I suggest Crispin: The Cross of Iron as a great intro back into fantasy, if you decide to go there. It's a youth/young adult selection and it received the Newberry award last year. (or maybe the year before) That'll be kind of like putting your toe in to check the water before making the plunge.

Library Mama said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Booklogged. I will keep you posted.

Lotus Reads said...

Thank you so much for the review of "Neverwhere", booklogged. I've been promising myself a Neil Gaiman novel (have never read him before), and now it's a toss between this one and Coraline. Will let you know what I decide.

Carl V. said...

Its more of what kind of read you're looking for Lotus. Coraline is definitely a children's book, albiet one that adults often find creepy. Neverwhere is more of an adult story, or at the very least older teens, and has both some creepy elements and many more fantasy elements than Coraline.

Being the fanatic I am though my true advice would be Read Them Both!!!

Lotus Reads said...

Hey Carl, OK, this is what I will do - I'm going to buy or borrow "Coraline" (both my daughters will want to read it too,I'm sure ) and after that I'll try "Neverwhere". Never thought I'd pick up a Neil Gaiman book to read, so I'm excited!

Carl V. said...

I look forward to reading about your experience with Gaiman.

Jen Robinson said...

I'm like that about fantasy, too. Sometimes I enjoy it, but all too often I find my self thinking "yeah, yeah, castles, swords, mistaken identities, etc., get on with it already." I find this especially with classic fantasy novels (where the whole book is set in some mysterious fantasy time and place). I do better with things that involve time travel, or starting out in the real world and finding some hidden other world or something like that.

Hope that you're enjoying your reading!

Bookfool said...

I feel the same way about fantasy. I read a little bit of everything, but some genres more sparingly than others; the only genre I studiously avoid is horror (and only because I'm prone to nightmares). I'm encouraged by your 4/5 rating - not sure I'll get to my copy before it's due back at the library, but I'm glad you enjoyed it, even with some reservation.

The Traveller said...

I don't usually like fantasty, but strangely enough I loved reading The Talisman. I'll make a note of the others you mentioned so I can look them out at some stage. Thanks!