Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is one of those books that I've been meaning to read for such a long time but never quite got around to it (does that sound familiar to all you other booklovers???). It's my flatmate's favourite book of all time, and she's normally very reticent with her opinions, so I knew she must REALLY love it in order to praise it so highly.
I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane at the beginning of this year (in fact, I think it might have been my first book of 2015), which was the first Neil Gaiman book I'd ever read. When I started Neverwhere, I thought I liked it a lot more than Ocean, but after finishing I'm not sure I still do. But I think Neverwhere felt more grounded and together as a story, and somehow more realistic (which is a bit bizarre, considering the subject matter).
From the outset, there are many threads of narrative woven together, which gave the impression of a complex and well-built storyline. Though, actually, it did take some mental gymnastics to work out how everything fitted together. And at some points I felt like I was sort of just taking the author's word for it that it all made sense. But, saying that, I also felt that about parts of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and that's one of my favourite series of all time, so it's not necessarily a deal-breaker for me.
The strongest element of the book, by far, was the world building. There were so many cool ideas on the go at once, and we got just enough of a glimpse into each aspect of this London 'below' to create just the right level of intrigue. I could possibly have done with a bit more explanation of some bits though.
The mysterious Croup and Vandemar were my personal favourites. Gaiman's descriptions hinted at their sinister capabilities so as to gradually build up a sense of dread. I also really enjoyed the writing style, which followed the likes of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams in its mixture of light and serious, finding a balance between the humorous and the sinister.
In summary, the writing style and world building were, for me, top notch. The other elements were still good, just slightly less so. Throughout, I had the distinct impression that it would've been better on screen as a TV series, just because of the visual nature of the world building, which I felt was slightly wasted on a standalone book. That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend! It would be especially fun, I imagine, for people with some knowledge of London.
What did you think of Neverwhere? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments!