Because I’m a bit short of cash at the moment (eh, unemployment) I’m trying to work my way through my backlog of unread books and also reread some of my other books rather than buying so many new books. I’m still buying a few, such as highly-anticipating new releases by my favourite authors, and books that I have to pick up for my reading group, but otherwise I’m restricting myself! Looking through my bookshelves to pick out some books that I fancied rereading, this one jumped straight to the top of the list. I first read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman back in 2006 (at least according to what I’ve written inside the front cover, back when I went through a phase of writing my name and the date inside every book I read). Gaiman is one of my favourite authors and I’ve read most of his novels, short story collections, and major comics multiple times. This one was one of the rare ones that I had only read once, and my general recollection of it had been that I’d enjoyed it but it wasn’t one of the best ones. Nonetheless, I was keen to read it again, and I am really glad that I did because my opinion of it has changed - it was much better than I’d recalled and it has gone way up my list of favourite Gaiman books because I absolutely loved it.
The book is about Richard Mayhew, who finds that his life is turned upside down when a random act of kindness, helping an injured girl named Door, results in him becoming losing his job, his flat and his girlfriend, essentially being displaced from real life. He winds up in London Below, the home of Door and various other misfits who have fallen through the cracks and live in this strange, magical underground society. Door’s family have been murdered and she is on a quest to find the people responsible and seek revenge; Richard joins her in an attempt to regain his life.
I really loved the book, however I’m finding it hard to explain exactly why I loved it so much, because I don’t just want to gush about it and pile on the superlatives. But I’ll just say that the plot, the setting, the characters, the prose - they’re all just brilliant. In a way it is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a Neil Gaiman novel, but I mean that in the best possible way.
Interestingly, the story was originally written as a television show for the BBC, and at the same time Gaiman wrote the novel version too (and this edition is one of those slightly expanded ‘author’s preferred text’ ones). I haven’t actually seen the television show, which is something I will have to remedy as soon as I can afford to buy the DVD, because I would be very interested in contrasting the two and seeing how the story works in a different medium, especially knowing that they were essentially created at the same time and written by the same person.
But as for the book, I’m really pleased that I got around to rereading it, because I had evidently not appreciated it enough the first time I read the book (or maybe I’d just forgotten, I don’t know). It’s now definitely one of my favourite Neil Gaiman novels and I’d heartily recommend it. It’s also made me more excited to reread some more of my books and see if my opinions have drastically changed for any other ones too.