By Neil Gaiman, 1996
Neverwhere is a cheap mash-up of fantasy and soap opera. I picked this book up off Barnes and Noble's usually reliable "Buy 2 Get One Free" table. I hadn't heard anything about it or the author, but thought the blurb on the back sounded interesting - a Londoner's life is dramatically altered when he stumbles into an unusual, underground version of the city. My instincts must have been dysfunctional that day.
The book's themes and metaphors leap from Christian religion to Greek mythology. The historical power of these references led me to believe that I should be unveiling hidden meaning in the story, but had no such luck. The goal of the protagonist is also unclear. His previous experiences do not coincide with his thoughts and actions later in the book. The relationship development is also sketchy. As the reader, you are constantly forced to run circles around absurd characters who seem to have a Wonderland complex - like Alice, you never get a straight answer from anyone. Reading along, it felt like the author was too engrossed with inventing unbelievable, physics-defying scenarios to have his characters react appropriately to what is happening. The childish, fairy-tale-like environment clashes badly with adult language and bizarrely gruesome violence.
I got the overall impression that the author lacked an initial plan for the story's development. There are so many inconsistencies, that I can't give Neverwhere my recommendation. But there's something to be said for having read a bad book. I'll be more wary of that table in the future!
If you've read Neverwhere, what did you think?