Monday, June 4, 2012

Read Along of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: Part 3

You can see Carl’s Part 3 post, and the links to the other blogs taking part, here.

This week we have read up to the end of the book.

There are no specific questions this week. Carl has asked for our overall impressions instead.

One of the things that I remembered very clearly from watching the series back in 1996 was that Islington was the bad guy. I remember that this was a real shock at the time. I did not remember Hunter selling them out, although this came very shortly afterward, so perhaps I was still reeling from his deception when I saw it. I was very disappointed in Hunter and surprised that she did not manage to defeat the Beast: I can only assume that her underhand method of obtaining the Spear meant that it did not work properly for her.

I found Lamia a little unnecessary: she seemed to be there simply to move the plot along when the group could have got the information some other way. I suppose she also served to split the group in half, so that the Messers could not find both keys at the same time, but the Beast could have done that. However, the scene with Richard on the plank trying to overcome his fear of heights was excellent. I could feel his bowel-clenching fear and sympathize with him every step of the way.

Door’s trick to defeat Islington and the Messers was a surprise, and the tension leading up to it was very well done. However, it seemed a little contrived, especially as Door had not mentioned any suspicions about Islington. I was quite surprised by how I actually felt slightly sorry for Messers Croup and Vandemar as they got sucked out into space. After all, they had not set out to hurt Door’s family because of their own psychotic tendencies: they were acting under orders from Islington. Yes, I know that they are crazed murderers, but they do seem to have some sort of code of honor and it was rather touching that Mr Vandemar chose to follow Mr Croup rather than be separated from him.

The whole sequence involving the Marquis’ body was rather disgusting but I was very impressed that he had deliberately allowed himself to be killed in order to gain information: that seemed to be going above and beyond any favor that he owed to Door’s father. He turned out to be a much more honest and reliable person than the persona he conveyed at the beginning of the book, and I can understand why Old Bailey has such respect and affection for him. I thought the mystery box with its elegant blue egg was very intriguing: I wonder how easy they are to acquire. It would seem that such methods of resurrection are fairly common in London Below, as he asks Hunter if she has one prepared. At the end I was very impressed by the Marquis’ courage and dedication, which was a nice surprise.

I was a little disappointed that Richard decided to return to London Above, especially as Door now has the task of finding her sister. It was nice that the world he returned to provided some sort of compensation for all his trouble, with the promotion at work. I particularly liked his handling of the letting agent: it must be harsh having to take a penthouse suite! I was not at all surprised that he no longer felt comfortable in his old life: he had gone through too much to return to it successfully. I was pleased that Jessica also seemed to have learnt from her experiences a little. The ending was satisfying and it was good to see the Marquis returned to full health.

Overall, this was a fun read, although I felt like it was a little lacking in depth. I would have preferred fewer characters and settings so that we could have learnt more about each of them. I do wonder if the original idea was for more than one series. I am left with far too many questions and ideas that I want to explore, which is vaguely dissatisfying.


  1. I really enjoyed this book when I read it a few years ago. I did feel like I was missing some jokes though since I'm American and not familiar with London. "The Angel Islington", for example, I looked up on wikipedia.

  2. I agree with you on the Marquis' travel from death to life - sewers and the sewer people and then a baby carriage bottom and finally he breathes again after expelling some unmentionable sewer soup from his lungs and stomach.... ugh..... 

    I was never too sure if Door's sister was still alive or not - a mystery that Gaiman leaves hanging. But I have to ask, didn't anyone do a body count shortly after Lord Portico's family's massacre (besides Croup and Vandemar)?

  3. Now you say about doing a body count I want to slap myself: you would have thought that someone would notice if there was a body missing . . . unless her body was killed, but her soul was stored somewhere like the Marquis' had been? Arrrggghhh! Too many unanswered questions! :(

  4. I'm certainly curious and hope you'll share more about what your unanswered questions are.  I don't mind a story  having some unanswered questions but I haven't ever felt that Neverwhere had all that many.  That is probably because I just didn't notice, hence my curiosity.

    I was disappointed at first that Richard chose to return to London Above, but was glad that by the very end he thought better of it and decided to go back to London Below.  Although in my 'happy ever after' ending I'd like to actually see Richard and Door hook up, I can imagine that they do and that is satisfying enough for me.  

  5. O. M. G. How did I not know about this? I am so saaaaaaaad. This is my favorite book and I would've loved to participate!

  6. I blame Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings: he organized it! :D

  7. I am not ignoring your post, Carl: I need time to gather my thoughts before I list them all! :D

  8. I'm not a fan of unanswered questions as a general rule but I got used to them in Neverwhere and it kinda helped be understand how off balance Richard must feel! I do agree a bit more info would have been nice like with the Marquis's survival/resurection it's well written but more details about how it works would help cement things for me.

  9.  I absolutely believe the marquis is leading Richard to Door as we speak. I'm glad for Richard's sake that he returned to London Above. I don't think he could have realized any other way how ill-suited he was to that life and had always been.

    I've got to check out the series.

  10. Of course, you are right about Richard's need to return to his old life in order to realize that he belonged in London Below. However, I did feel that he should have stayed to find out about Door's sister before going back.

    The series was good fun and very well cast as far as I can remember. :)

  11. That is an interesting point! I think that it worked at first, but I would have liked to learn more as Richard got more immersed in the world.

  12. I loved reading this book, too, but agree that it lacks some depth. The story really holds together well considering the unanswered questions about characters, their actions and motivations. I wonder if perhaps Gaiman thought he'd write more about this world at some point and almost set stuff up to be further explored at another time. 

  13. I've got a great respect for the Marquis, especially after he let himself be tortured to be able to get C&V to talk.  He's definitely a sheep in wolf's clothing.


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