Author: Neil Gaiman
Published By: Harper Audio
Date Published: October 23rd, 2007
Pages: 400pg, 12 hours, 33 minutes audio
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy,
Recommended Age: Adult
Reviewed By: Joanna Celeste, http://joannaceleste.com
Rating: 5 (but heed Parents section, even as an adult)
Purchased Book at Audible.com
Neverwhere is a brilliant fantasy about a perfectly ordinary man (Richard Mayhew) just making it through his life in his perfectly ordinary way, who then has the most extraordinary things happen in short order. One minute, he’s making a straightforward decision to help someone. The next minute, his whole life is upside down. We feel Richard’s whiplash acutely, and follow through his amazing adventures (to London Below and London Above) cheek-and-jowl with him.
Mr. Gaiman creates these fascinating characters – Door, who has the power to open doors; Hunter, who is the finest assassin-turned-bodyguard in the land; Mr. Vandermar and Mr. Croup, immortal assassins who derive their sole pleasure in existence from hurting people; the Marquis de Carabas whom we question to the end; and the angel, guiding from his cavern of a hundred candles.
I enjoyed the settings, as well, as Mr. Gaiman depicts with brief strokes the vibrancy and insanity of London, the rhythms of modern life, the magical-realism aspects of London Below, and the mysterious qualities to characters that can’t quite be pinned down to Good or Evil. (Mr. Vandermar and Mr. Croup are unequivocally evil, but their descriptions are fascinating.)
As Richard delves deeper into worlds that never belonged to him--facing the horrors of his own insecurities, racing time and the immortal assassins to help Door learn the truth about her family's murder so that he may retrieve the key to Go Home--he discovers the place he truly belongs.
Joanna Celeste's Thoughts:
Mr. Gaiman has the exceptional ability of choosing voices for his characters that paint whole images with simple variations of tone. I bought the audio book because I love his speaking voice, and I was prepared for a decent effort at narration, but he blew me away. I wanted to go and order all his other audio books (as WhisperSync ready, in case any more of them have gruesome scenes in the mix).
Not once was I bored or ready to just end it off for the night. Audible.com audio books can be downloaded onto iPods, the Kindle or the computer. I listened to it while I organized and I was able to follow along as I did something else (an important aspect for me when purchasing an audio book). There were some scenes that demanded my full attention, however.
(For those who do not like music in their audio books, please note that music and special effects are used to indicate dream sequences, breaks in the story, and as general markers where the text would have been altered but the listener wouldn’t know it unless there was some sort of effect; it did not feel overstated at any time.)
Language: None that I recall.
Adult Content: Adult subject matter.
Violence: Neil Gaiman’s exceptional narration style, when applied to gruesome torture scenes, is truly horrific. I would have preferred reading Stephen King, alone on a dark and stormy night, with the electricity flickering on and off, than listening to Mr. Gaiman’s treatment of a crucifixion. I actually had to mute every scene involving the immortal assassins, and so I missed out on quite a bit of dialogue. For that reason, I recommend purchasing the WhisperSync option so one can switch to reading when it comes to the torture, and then switch back to the narration for everything else. (Clues—but not spoilers—are: rusty razorblades, one hour head-start, and have the mute button at the ready wherever Mr. Vandermar and Mr. Croup are involved.)
The WhisperSync option is also recommended because I would have loved to read certain scenes over again and they are harder to locate in the audio version.