Neverwhere Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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National Best Seller
Selected as one of NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of All Time
The number one New York Times best-selling author's wildly successful first novel featuring his new Neverwhere tale, "How the Marquis Got His Coat Back".
Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew.
"A fantastic story that is both the stuff of dreams and nightmares" (San Diego Union-Tribune), Neil Gaiman's first solo novel has become a touchstone of urban fantasy and a perennial favorite of readers and listeners everywhere.
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|Listening Length||13 hours and 48 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||April 11, 2017|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #679 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#6 in Contemporary Fantasy
#104 in Paranormal & Urban Fantasy (Books)
Reviewed in the United States on September 26, 2017
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Top reviews from the United States
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I loved the prose of Neverwhere, it read almost like it was meant for children when it’s so clearly not. There’s this whimsy to it, alongside Gaiman’s love of a metaphor and simile, which made the whole style just as magical as London Below. Speaking of, I loved the characters that populated this secret place. Gaiman was able to weave in a complex mystery and twists and turns into something that should have been an otherwise very straight forward plot: find out why/who is after Door and killed her family, and get Richard back to London Above. Gaimain, in this particular book anyway, is able to make you love and care for a character so, so deeply and then cut you to the core by taking them away all in one chapter. He’s also able to play with your mind about what is truly reality for Richard, and who should our main characters trust in a way that really added to the twists at the end. It was masterfully done!
I will say that I read A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab before reading Neverwhere, and after reading Gaiman’s book, it’s really easy to see where Schwab got a lot of inspiration for that series: everything from the different types of Londons that only one person really seems to be able to move between, and even a certain magical coat. I’m not mad about this at all! It’s clear that Schwab idolizes Gaiman, and her writing is an homage to that without being a rip off. Its just something to keep in mind if you read this and things start sounding… familiar.
All in all, this was a perfectly satisfying read—from just holding the book, to the perfect illustrations, the magical whimsy of the writing, and the cast of incredible characters that inhabit London Below. The story is dark, but with moments of tenderness and humor so I never felt bogged down to the point where I could no longer appreciate the imagery. Gaiman’s fantasy is always a reflection of reality with fantastic elements, so the ugly parts of our world are still present, but made magic so when you read you don’t necessarily feel preached to. But I can definitely understand why this style may not be for everyone—Gaiman doesn’t describe anything in a straightforward manner, instead almost tricking the reader into visualizing these delightful things. Which I loved, personally! This book was quirky and deep, fantastic and the kind of realistic urban fantasy I didn’t know I was missing until now, which is why this gets an easy 5 stars from me!
And unfortunately, I was not a fan.
I know, I know, I can already see the readers foaming at the mouth. “How can you NOT like Neverwhere? Neil Gaiman is the greatest writer that ever lived!”
My issue with the book has nothing to do with Neverwhere’s writing. Neil Gaiman’s prose remains consistently magical and is full of little details that make London Below come alive. But before I go into why I wasn’t a fan, you should know what Neverwhere is about.
The plot is about Richard Mayhew, an ordinary guy. He works at an office, has a regular 9 to 5 job, and he’s with a girlfriend that tolerates his existence. One night, Richard encounters a girl on the run from two men. Richard’s tries to save the girl and ends up transported into an alternate reality called, London Below.
When Richard attempts to resume his normal life by going to work or visiting his girlfriend, he quickly realizes that everyone is ignoring him. He leaves and goes to his apartment, but when he gets there he finds it occupied by strangers. Whenever he tries to speak to his best friend or his girlfriend, they say one word to him and move on as if he didn’t exist. This alternate reality had somehow turned Richard into a ghost.
Stuck with no apartment, no money, no job, no girlfriend, Richard decides to find the girl who got him in this mess in the first place. Her name is Door. Door is the daughter of some nobility in London below and also has the capability to open . . . you guessed it, doors. But when Richard finally meets Door, she tells him that she can’t bring him back to his home dimension.
Richard’s quest to return to the London Above begins. This is the premise of Neverwhere.
So what is the London Below? To describe it simply, London Below is what would happen if you fell asleep on the subway and had a nightmare. It is a twisted, non sensical version of London where “Minding the Gap” means watch out for the monster that lives in the gap between train and the platform. The rats are messengers for the homeless. Junk and random items can be bartered (including your life). And a street name like, Knightsbridge could literally mean that knights are guarding it.
London Below is what would happen if underground subways were towns and marketplaces. And it is this underground theme that ultimately left me uninterested in the book. As a former rider of trains, there is nothing fun or enjoyable to me about a world built around the underground.
Sadly, it wasn’t just the world that disinterested me, the characters also left me detached from the experience. The Marquis De Carabas was written as a cool and suave character; a man so interesting, he needed to have his own bonus content at the back of the book.
I did not read these pages because the Marquis did not interest me. Hunter, a woman who often protected and saved Richard from certain doom, also failed to engage me. I liked Door well enough and I loved the villain, but Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar embodied a type of aesthetic and style that bored me.
The irony is, the book wasn’t boring.
Unlike Ocean at the End of the Lane which has a dreadfully slow beginning, Gaiman’s Neverwhere moves at a steady pace. It’s not too fast, not too slow, just right. Unfortunately, underground worlds are a huge turn off for me, no matter how creative or well written they are. Neverwhere felt like a universe that could exist in a Steampunk setting and I hate Steampunk.
And this, I understand, is a matter of personal taste. It is the equivalent of a die-hard medieval fantasy novel reader trying to force themselves to read a Star Wars book. It doesn’t matter if the characters or plot is interesting, the world will fail to suck in the reader. Neverwhere failed to suck me in.
Had I been a fan of this underground world I would have called Neverwhere a great book, easily 5 stars. Still, for those of you who do like underground themed worlds, then I would highly recommend giving Neverwhere a read. Neil Gaiman, even when he produces work that fails to engage me, is still an amazing writer and I can’t imagine giving Neverwhere anything less than . . .
4 out of 5 stars.
I'd recommend it to lovers of The Founders Trilogy, Life of Pi, Pan's Labyrinth, even Princess Mononoke.
Five stars for inspiring the curiosity that everything else is bent on drowning out.
Top reviews from other countries
So welcome to London Below, a place under London teeming with life, and with some quite noticeable differences. When Richard Mayhew walks down the road one night with his fiancée, Jessica so he tries to give aid to a girl who seems distressed – thus starting him off on an adventure that he will never forget, and one that could change his life. The girl is called Door, and her family being killed and herself in danger she needs assistance to find out what is going on.
With a host of unforgettable characters we have the rather nasty but somehow quite enjoyable Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar, along with an earl’s court held in an Underground train carriage, as well as an old man called Old Bailey, an angel called Islington, and the Marquis de Carabas to name a few. Some people can talk to rats and it is best not to ask what meat it is in meals when you buy them off a stall.
Gaiman wanted to create something like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ for a more mature audience, and it can be argued that not only has he done that with this but also he created a world that is something that you really want to visit, especially if you can have a look around the Floating Market. I must admit that I am not a massive fan of Neil Gaiman, but this is one of those books of his that I always enjoy reading.
He soon finds himself in London Below, an entire society that is both separate from and part of London Above. London Below feels like the London of old, with markets and bartering systems with the addition of beings that are not altogether human and a little touch of magic and more that lets the imagination run wild (something that Gaiman is rather good at encouraging in all ages). This is added to be the superb illustrations by Riddell which weave their way around Gaiman's words as well as through your imagination.
Imo this is a better experience than the television adaptation, which has its merits but the visuals are always better in your own head.
Yet he finds himself in some alternate London reality on a crazy adventure with some very unusual people. Perhaps it's only when we're pushed, or forced into a situation, we discover who we truly are. Perhaps there's no such thing as ordinary. All we need is that catalyst to find the extraordinary within us.
And once you've wandered off and been on a journey, such as Richard Mayhew's in Neverwhere, can you ever go back to being the same person?
Anyway, enough musings on the human psyche, I've gone a little off tangent here.
This is a wonderfully imaginative story full of big characters. It contains equal amounts of horror and humour. The villains are pure evil but I loved them! And the dialogue between the characters is a masterpiece. At one point I thought I had it worked out but that's exactly what the author wanted me to think (you sly fox, you) 😂
I was delighted to find a short story at the end of the book: How The Marquis Got His Coat Back. It allowed me to spend a little more time with one of my favourite characters and continue exploring other areas of London Below. Plus I got to meet a few more unforgettable characters.
An easy 5 stars from me. And now I can't help but smile upon hearing certain destinations when travelling on London's Underground.
Assuming you don't loathe urban fantasy then I would recommend this enjoyable tale; a fun specimen of the genre.