Monday, May 28, 2012

Read Along of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: Part 2

You can see Carl’s Part 2 post, and the links to the other blogs taking part, here.

This week we have read up to the end of Chapter 12.

1.  Chapter 6 begins with Richard chanting the mantra, "I want to go home".  How do you feel about Richard and his reactions at this point to the unexpected adventure he finds himself on?

It reminded me a little of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz: “There’s no place like home!”

Richard seems to have got past the initial blast of confusion and is now starting to wonder if this will be his life from now on. I can understand why he is very scared and getting increasingly angry about the change in his circumstances. He feels like a very real person to me, and his reactions are perfectly understandable, so I sympathize with him a lot.

2.  The Marquis de Carabas was even more mysterious and cagey during the first part of this week's reading.  What were your reactions to him/thoughts about him as you followed his activities?

At first I thought he had betrayed Door and was actually the person employing Messers Croup and Vandemar, so I was relieved when that was not the case. I am very impressed by how much he knows about the world and so he knows exactly how to bribe everyone he encounters. For example, how does he just happen to have a whistle to play the most attractive tune in the world, and its antidote? It seems like his coat is like a Bag of Holding in the D&D universe, with unlimited storage space. Also, I really want to know what was in the box that he gave Old Bailey for safekeeping.

3.  How did you feel about the Ordeal of the Key?

Well, it did not make a great deal of sense to me. I assume that the challenge was to not commit suicide, but it was very confusing and disorientating. I am surprised that Richard came out of it without massive paranoia. I would also like to know how the friars knew that he had been in there long enough. I am not sure that Door or Hunter would have done any better than Richard, so perhaps he was destined to fulfill this role in their Quest. I was nicely surprised that Anesthesia’s bead did have some significance.

4.  This section of the book is filled with moments.  Small, sometimes quite significant, moments that pass within a few pages but stick with you.  What are one or two of these that you haven't discussed yet that stood out to you, or that you particularly enjoyed.

The Messers having been around for the Sack of Troy did jump out at me a little. So they are seriously old, as that is more than three thousand years ago, and they can move by teleporting from place to place. That suggests that they are possibly demons or even characters somewhat similar to the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Lovely!

Mr Croup eats fine china and has an almost orgasmic reaction to the process. Well, that’s not strange at all, is it? In fact, it makes Mr Vandemar look a little boring when he bites the heads off small mammals.

Serpentine was almost a throw away character, but seemed to be someone very dangerous. She knows more about Hunter: perhaps she was the person who created the curse to keep Hunter below ground.

Door had a throw away line that suddenly made me realize something very important that I had missed earlier. Who hid her father’s recording sphere? We clearly see his death on it, so he could not have hidden it himself.

5.  Any other things/ideas that you want to talk about from this section of the book?

I like how the worlds of Londons Above and Below keep colliding. The bizarre Earl’s Court explains blacked out carriages that Richard has often seen on the Underground, although I do wonder if the missing items from the vending machines are ever noticed. I liked the scene with Jessica and the reception in the Museum, where Richard tells her who he is very bluntly. That was a nice touch, as was the inability for anyone to stay focused on Door and Richard for more than a few minutes.

I am intrigued by the idea that all big cities have a Below under them. I want to know how Hunter has managed to travel between the cities: did she move above ground or below?


  1. Croup and Vandemar seem to be representative of an ancient evil that has existed since the beginning of time and still exists.  Talk of being in league with the Devil!!

  2. I like that Richard is a normal guy.  It is easier for me to relate to the story.  Interesting theory that Serpentine may be the reason why Hunter can't leave London Below.  

  3. There is a Wizard of Oz element, and I too heart "There's no place like home" in Richard's "I want to go  home chant".  Dorothy's life back home seems like it is full of potential, whereas Richard's seems full of boring predictability, and much worse looks to me like a life that would end up in divorce court, which is why I always want him to grab the bull by the horns.  I do so love Richard, even when he frustrates me.

    I'm glad you mentioned the coat as I cannot help but feel there is some kind of transdimensional nature to it.  As if anything he has ever put into it is at his fingertips. 

    We really do get a fuller picture of who Croup and Vandemar are in this section.  They've done (and are proud of) so me truly horrible things which lets the reader know that they are a truly formidable enemy. 

    I like the bead thing as well.  I appreciate it when authors pull in little details from different parts of a story that I had forgotten about.  I also like that this story has characters like Serpentine, who give us a fuller picture of the world without necessarily having to have a big part to play in the overall tale.

    Interesting thought, how did Hunter travel overseas?

  4. They seem to be anti-angels, don't they? :(

  5. I have so many questions about all these people, even if they appear for only a short time. I like how they feel like real people that we are glimpsing as they go about their lives. It is frustrating though! :)

  6. The Richard we see at the start of the book seems to have settled for an OK life, rather than trying to find a wonderful life because it would be too much bother. I hope that his quest allows him to be more hopeful and ambitious with his life.

    The bead was a wonderful touch, because it not only gave some meaning to Anesthesia's death, but also reminded us that Richard cares about people, which is why he is in this mess anyway.
    I love how we have so many questions about this world, it makes it so 3D and interesting! :)

  7. Wow. You have made some connections that flew right by me in my reading! The connections with Serpentine and Hunter are interesting. They def had a history ... but what? The business with C&V being connected to the horsemen of the apocalype is interesting too ... they certainly are the hounds of Hell!

    The thing with Door's father and his recording sphere/diary has me really intrigued! There's a big question!

  8. I thought of Dorothy, too.  

    I really want to know what's in that box, too.  I had a strange thought a second ago – do you think it's the Marquis's heart?  It was pulsing and glowing red, which is kinda heart-like, right?

    I hadn't even thought to wonder how Hunter moves from one world to another if she can't go above ground.  Good question!

  9. When I read about it pulsing red I assumed that it was his escape route or something similar: if it is his heart I wonder how that helps him to survive the whole crucifixion thing? :(

    Perhaps Hunter's curse is a recent development: maybe she killed someone's pet 300 lb weasel! :D

  10. The whole thing with Lord Portico's death being recorded struck me straightaway and I was surprised that neither she nor the Marquis noticed the problem that it presented. It makes me wonder why it was hidden, and even how, as Door had to open the secret compartment. So many questions! Don't you just love having your brain stretched? :D

  11. Yeah, it was fun for me when Richard tells Jessica who he is right after Door tells him to remain inconspicuous. What part of inconspicuous does he not understand? Wherever he goes, he bears along this lovable naivete and dogged persistence. 

  12. I think that Richard was particularly well-equipped for the Ordeal simply because he's been so disoriented as of late.  He's been facing his demons and dealing with an altered view of reality ever since Door showed up, so I think that he's in the unique position to recognize that everything might not be as it seems.

  13. Her reaction was priceless though, so it was definitely worth it! :D

    I got the impression that he did it specifically because she would not remember it, so it was his opportunity to be savagely honest with no repercussions. 

  14. Absolutely, Door and Hunter might have found it much more difficult, or impossible to succeed like he did.

  15. Good comment about Hunter's travels. I bet she has a stable where she keeps a variety of mounts depending on how far and through what terrain she must travel. Everything from a wingless Pegasus to a saddled white tiger, so some sea beast. 

  16. I suspect that anything is possible in this world.

  17. I like Grace's suggestion that Richard's experience in London Below was actually helpful in surviving the ordeal - I'd be thinking of it just in terms of unsettling him, so only having a negative effect. But maybe it's a help that he's been having to question everything around him since he arrived there, and, yes, that's what gives him the edge. Certainly, when so many have failed, there's got to be something special about someone who survives it.

  18. I also wondered if his previous life had been so dull and benign that he didn't have many demons to fight: I don't even want to think what Hunter would be up against! 

  19. The more I read about Croup and Vandemar the worse they get, I can't get over Vandemar luring in lunch and eating it raw, ick.

  20. I certainly wouldn't want to watch . . . :(


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