Monday, May 21, 2012

Neverwhere Group Read Part 1

The Once Upon A Time Challenge is still going strong and it is time for the Neverwhere group read I signed on to participate in.

In Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Richard Mayhew’s life is turned upside down after stopping to help a bleeding girl on the sidewalk.  He is thrust into a world he never knew existed in the underground tunnels of London where magic and danger thrive.

Below are questions in bold for the group read and my answers follow.  The questions do not contain spoilers but my answers could so proceed with caution.

1.  What do you think of our two villains thus far, Messrs. Croup and Vandemar? 
Standard stock villains with no soul who seem to have no limits, except finding everyone else but who they’re supposed to kill.  I mean, why did they waste time on that Varney guy when they could have continued tracking Door on their own?

2.  Thus far we've had a small taste of London Below and of the people who inhabit it.  What do you think of this world, this space that lies within or somewhat overlaps the space the "real world" occupies?
It makes me think of fandoms and how the internet has enabled people who feel they don’t belong find each other and create their own space to belong to.

3.  What ideas or themes are you seeing in these first 5 chapters of Neverwhere?  Are there any that you are particularly drawn to?
So far just that people need a place to belong to.  That’s all I can think of right now.  I’m just not into analyzing it much, as you will see at the end of this post.

4.  We've met a number of secondary characters in the novel, who has grabbed your attention and why?
The Hunter.  She seems no-nonsense, can take care of herself and I imagined her as Gina Torres and I have a girl crush on her.

5.  As you consider the Floating Market, what kind of things does your imagination conjure up? What would you hope to find, or what would you be looking for, at the Market?
It makes me think of flea markets.  Not the fancy ones you only see on TV where some interior designer is going “bargain hunting” but the real flea markets where you have to dig through piles of dirty, broken stuff to find lost treasure and hope you don’t need a tetanus shot after.  Like some of the places those American Picker guys dig through.

6.  If you haven't already answered it in the questions above, what are your overall impressions of the book to this point?
I don’t know.  It hasn’t grabbed me yet.  I feels similar, like I’ve seen or read it before such as in Anansi Boys and American Gods: Your plain ol’ average Joe being led through some mystical world he knows  nothing about.

So far, I’m only reading this book for the group read, not because I want to.  I keep counting the pages to see when a chapter ends so I know when I can get back to another book I’m reading.  I’m finding I enjoyed reading about what’s going on under London in this book I read earlier this year.  I hope this changes soon because I want to enjoy Neverwhere but so far I’m not and that's why my answers are so short and lackadaisical.


  1. I hope you enjoy it more as we keep reading.

    Hunter was my favorite of the secondary characters as well; I cracked up when Richard almost told her he thought she was a prostitute.

  2. Drag that you're not enjoying things a bit more ... I have no experience with Gaiman's adult literature, so this is a nice change from Graveyard Book and Coraline ... there seems to be more to it ... and I like the discussion and seeing that others pull such interesting connections from the story and its themes.

  3. What a shame that you're not enjoying it, especially when you're talking to a bunch of people who love it unreservedly, warts and all. I hope it grabs you more as we go on, but I think we've probably all had the experience of raving about a book to a friend only to have them hate it :-)

  4. I see Croup and Vandemar as a couple of guys who in some ways cannot be bothered to do the 'dirty work' anymore when they think the job is beneath them, hence the Varney thing. And they also seem to me like cats who enjoy toying with the mouse. Their true danger is that if they weren't so overconfident they probably could have dispatched Door already, but that pride now has things unraveling for them.

    Interesting comparison of London Below to fandom. I certainly think it is a good one. The internet has become a world, or series of worlds, where folks who fall through the cracks can go to find a peer group. And of course even those who don't fall through the cracks can find groups of like-minded individuals to inhabit a shared world together.

    Oh, Gina Torres would be a GREAT Hunter.

    I'm sorry you aren't enjoying the book and hope you know that it is entirely okay to not keep reading it if you don't want to. I certainly don't stick with books I'm not enjoying. But if you do I hope you'll continue to share your feelings with us. At the very least it may help you understand why some of us are connecting with it. That is the beauty of books, they touch people in different ways and sometimes not at all.

  5. You're not the first one in this read along to mention Gina Torres as Hunter! It works!

  6. That's an interesting comparison - London Below and the internet. I hadn't thought it before, but I think you're spot-on.

    I think getting a tetanus shot after going to the Floating Market would be a good idea ;)