Reader reviews for Neverwhere

Like many Neil Gaiman novels (in my opinion, obviously), it has a slow start, but this one is well worth wading through. I read it the first time on my first trip to London (unbeknownst to me at the time) and made sure to bring it along to read with my husband for our second trip there, for our honeymoon.

It makes riding the Underground a bit more magical.
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Neverwhere and Neil Gaiman are probably in that area that's not well defined where someone tells me you will love this book and you will love this author. It usually comes on the heals of having either loved some other book or hated some book and author; prompting a response from another, concerned, reader who thinks I should read this book. The problem with some of that is that it creates several ephemeral bubbles of expectation about things I know nothing about, that grow into unfounded hope. And with that I open the pages to disappointment.

But to begin I was thoroughly entertained by this novel and never felt that I should throw it against the wall or in the trash or burn it or give it any other of those many forms of quick death. When I think back-I can't honestly say what I was expecting. I somehow think it might be that I was expecting an insightful novel written in a manor that I could point to and say, 'If you want an example of how to write well and be well read then you should look at this and take notes.' Maybe I was reading too much into what people were saying.

Fortunately getting that out of my system only took reading the first few pages. I should qualify that I usually read around ten to twenty pages while deciding to continue to read.

Before I start I'll give my usual caveat for those who are pernickety. In my e-copy I found some sentence structure within that cause me more than once to reread lines to determine what they really meant to say and in some cases was left wondering why that spurious thought even was there. There are a few errors such as extra words and missing words that crop up. There are even a few places where something jars out of what appears perfect planning. In one scene a character is running off to get food and another character says Curry please. Where one could easily mistake that they might have meant Hurry please but when the other character does get things with curry then the whole thing explains itself.

The story begins with our protagonist Richard Mayhew who is preparing to leave his small Scottish town and enter the big city of London. He getting a proper sendoff from his friends and this is a moment we begin to see that Richard might be feeling a bit of disillusion with the direction of his life. But we will find that one of Richards faults is that he doesn't see the disillusion and so he really can't do anything about it. Oddly Richard seems to be similar in many ways to Quentin in "Lev Grossman's The Magician"-except for the obvious fact that Quentin is aware of his dissatisfaction. On this night Richard meets and elderly lady and offers her his umbrella to protect her against the elements-which tells us a bit about him- but before the chivalry she will offer to read his palm where she cautions him that he has a long road ahead and he should watch out for doors.

Richard takes it all light-heartedly while agreeing to watch out for doors. As a reader I was sure doors would mean something else and most certainly he'd not recognize it before it hit him in the face or the backside.

Fast forward to London; a young lady is being pursued by thugs. Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar and Mr. Ross are in hot pursuit; but the first two are using Mr. Ross as a sort of advanced scout. This proves prudent since the young lady has a talent that proves quite deadly. Their plan is to get her to use the talent and then overtake her while she is recharging her magic.

Richard is leading a normal life -he has a girl friend- a great job with many friends- plenty of challenges at work and is definitely showing signs that there are not enough hours in a day- suffice it to say he thinks he's happy. His girlfriend Jessica is controlling and manipulating and quite organized and focused- who could ask for anything more. Into this relationship falls the seriously injured young woman. We get to really see what Jessica is all about when she tries to ignore the bleeding and pleading person she assumes is homeless. Richard lets his better nature win at the risk of losing Jessica, although reason seems to go south as he agrees with the wishes of the severely injured woman and takes her home instead of the hospital. His home.

The girl whose name is Doreen, is of course the mysterious Door since her nickname is Door. There are more than the obvious reasons for that nickname. By taking her in Richard puts himself at risk in more ways than one and soon finds out when Mr. Croup and Mr Vandemar show up at his door. While they push their way into the apartment they all discover that Doreen has somehow vanished from the apartment- much to Richards relief. As soon as they leave she shows up and claims to have always been there and that begins the stranger part of our fantasy. Now we enter a world that matches many of Disney's classic cartoons where people talk to animals and even rivals Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland as Richard finds himself sucked down the rabbit hole into an alternate underground of London.

This begins a series of what look like inconsistencies within the magic of the story that seem to exist solely because of an effort to hide other surprises that the author has in mind for the reader.

Richard loses his existence in the real-world because he saw and got involved with Door. He becomes a non-person who no one in the real world can see. But now we have the question of why he and Jessica could see Door to begin with. This gets answered but there is such a lag between the question and the answer that as a reader it was annoying because many more questions started to pile up for answering.

This comes about not so much from an actual need to withhold the information as much as it is that the author has something else that might be deduced too early if he makes the reveal too early which results in a reader like myself having difficulty with the suspension of disbelief when internally the magic has some problems. I have seen this same phenomenon in other books where the author tries so hard not to say one thing that it creates a withholding of information that's important to the scene and in many cases creates a false anticipation of events that never occur and then a letdown to the reader.

There are many other example of this same style choice that become very annoying. One such is when a character appears to betray everyone, because we don't have enough information. Then when we get more information the readers has to say, well then why did he do it that way; that was stupid. And then even later when we have the rest revealed and we now know why he acted so stupid; we have reached a point where without a proper understanding the whole thing looks like Deus ex Machina, which might explain why someone complained that there were a series of Deus ex Machina that occur throughout the novel.

The novel as a whole contains so many threads that seem to be derived from a long list of other works that include The wizard of OZ by Frank L. Baum; Princes Bride by William Goldman; The Night Life of the Gods by Thorne Smith; Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll and the Narnia series by CS Lewis, that there is hardly room for character development. The most striking character for me is marquis de Carabas. Though Richard has some bit of depth and was working on the issue of understanding his own dissatisfaction with his life he comes off as being easily directed rather than driven- which could be another flaw, but that one is never properly addressed. Hunter could have been a favorite except she suffered from that same need to keep things secret until we surprise the reader. This unfortunately makes her come off as and unknown variable with absolutely no depth.

It seemed like the characters had to be molded to fit the various borrowed themes and were restricted from any chance to reveal their own depth of character. Even the pivotal scenes where Richard obtains an object they need and later when he becomes a sort of warrior hero these scenes lose their power because in both cases we don't know Richard enough to say that it went outside his character although it looks like it's way outside his character.

Ultimately when all is finished all the plot lines and themes resolve out well finally and the magic seems to mostly follow it's internal rules. The story itself if a really good type of fable. It's quite an enjoyable read though it takes a bit of perseverance to wait for some of the explanation that help the logic. Such questionable logic as why would someone who has the power to open anything needs a key, let alone have to participate in a quest for the key. (This question is actually answered but it's there with a whole bunch of similar questions the reader has to wait for.)

This is really a good read for any Fantasy fans and those who like a light read with some built in colloquial humor based on pop references.

J.L. Dobias
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A very dark tale
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This book explores the idea of an actual zombie outbreak and how the world, especially the various governments, would try and contain the problem. It gives you a scary look at what humanity may do in order to save itself from extinction. It is a good book to read, particularly if you think a zombie outbreak may be possible.
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I'm a huge fan of General Hackett's WW3 books and he would have been impressed with this book! It was much more personal than Hackett's books and left me wanting to know more about certain characters or groups. Not a Zombie person but would tell anybody who enjoys reading to GET THIS BOOK!
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I've always really loved the whole mythology of zombies. I mean, with all the experimentations and scientific engineering that's going on to me it's not hard to believe that we could create, in an effort to learn or make a better man, some horrible mutation of ourselves. In World War Z Max Brooks makes that fear a reality. The way the story of the zombie war is told is very unique and refreshing. You hear the view point of all countries, all sort of men and women with different ideologies and intentions. You really see how everyone on earth plays a part in their own destruction as well as their own survival. The book is incredibly realistic. So realistic that I had to stop reading it for a week. It kept my mind reeling with different scenarios of how I would ensure my and my family's safety if this were to happen. If the world were to become overrun by the infected this is probably how it would go down. In a sense the book is really preparing you. This should be required reading for all world leaders. It's a great great book, an entertaining, yet cautionary tale.
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The narrator starts out with telling the reader that the story we are about to read is one that is not in the official record books, but is instead, the story of the emotions and mix-ups that occurred in the fight against the zombies. Told in an interview type of style that encompasses the entire war against the zombies, this book paints a picture of horror and hope. Readers familiar with any of Studs Terkel's work will recognize the interview narrative style and how the interviews are stitched together as episodes to create a greater narrative of the war. At times graphic, this book is aimed at older young adults or adults. There are references to primary source documents that are footnoted to give juxtaposition for a story being told in a world that is similar, but not quite like our own. Older young adults who are interested in zombies, war, or the military will be interested in this book. Highly Recommended.
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Wow! I went into reading this book expecting another mediocre reading experience...it seems like nearly every book I've read recently with zombies in it hasn't been all that good and I'd actually been putting off reading World War Z for several months for this very reason...as it turns out, I need not have worried, Brooks' book is quite a step up from what I've been reading and I really enjoyed it! I think that Brooks has pulled off something that is difficult for the zombie genre...being a largely visual medium, the world of zombie is sometimes hard to capture adequately in words...Brooks has accomplished this by leaving the Zombies in the background (though there are some very graphic descriptions of zombies and their attacks interspersed throughout the narratives) and using first person narratives to tell the story of an alternative future history...what I like to call a "might be." The author takes the idea...what WOULD happen if the dead started to rise...how would individuals and governments react...who would accept it and prepare, who would deny it to their own detriment...it's an idea that anyone who has watched even one zombie flick has thought about. What would *I* do...how would my neighbors react...people in large cities...would it become global and how would peoples all over the world react. This book covers it all and in a unique way. In World War Z Brooks has chosen to explore the scope and magnitude of a zombie infection through "interviews" with individuals from all over the globe...every country, every race...from doctors to soldiers to politicians to mercenaries and beyond. This isn't the "everyman's" story; these are interviews with people from the "inside," those in the know and those who are part of the "war machine" from start to finish. What really makes this novel stand out is the individual narratives strung together to form a larger picture of the entire "invasion," instead of choosing one group (or several small groups located in different locations) to focus on, thus NOT personalizing it with a single group or individual and their experience through the "war." Don't get me wrong, the story is still individualized, but in a broader way that gives humanity a face through the key players of the "war." There are definitely places where I wanted to know WAY more...where Brooks could certainly flesh out these stories, making each into an individual novel (a series)...I longed for that in places, but has he done that, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much...probably what the novel really needed were a few places where the "narrator" filled in some "historical" details to help bring the novel to a more cohesive whole...but really this is a minor quibble. Overall, World War Z is well written, humorous (Brooks skewers politicians, the military-industrial complex, pop culture, and the "modern" way of life in an equal opportunity fashion) and which gives the reader the best of both worlds...zombies AND human drama! I particularly liked how the interviews wove together a picture of each country the world over...each with its own strengths and weaknesses (some were geographically advantaged or disadvantaged, for others it was culturally or politically) and how those strengths and weaknesses played out across the globe. I give World War Z five stars...it certainly takes from Romero and others...but it definitely has its own message and is well worth reading, I'd recommend it to fans of the zombie genre wholeheartedly...but I think it also had appeal outside of the horror/zombie fan base...while it does have zombies and is graphic in places, this is really a human story...a drama told in individual interviews that really reached out to the reader, there were a few places where I got a little misty eyed, or outraged, and yes grossed out. Well done and very hard to put down!
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A campy, funny, cool little dystopian allegory. It resembles Camus' The Plague, except this on is as subtle as a nuclear bomb.
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World War Z by Max Brooks is yet another one of the amazing zombie themed non-fiction horror novels he has written. It includes graphic first person accounts, daring decisions, and it shows how bad ignorance can be to the human race having our race almost be completely wiped out by zombies. I for one thought this was a decent book. This book could best be compared to others he has written such as Zombie world I would also compare parts of it to that of a movie like brave heart. The book begins with how outbreaks of the disease were happening but the government was trying to cover them up so nobody knew what was truly going on, Then the book turns to an event called the great panic this is where the outbreak turns into an epidemic and all over the world people are quickly figuring out what is really going on, but with the majority of governments on the earth trying to just contain the disease and not worry about fighting it, this makes it spread even quicker at one point more than three hundred-million known zombies in the world. Civilians then have to take it into their own hands to fight of the zombie threat and other threats such as quislers (humans who have so little contact or have been separated from other humans for so long that they think they are zombies and openly attack other people). To rate this I would have to give it a ten out of ten I really thought this was a fantastic and interesting book I would totally recommend this book to anyone interested in adventure, horror, and warfare. This is another Max Brooks master piece. This guides you through only using first person accounts.
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