Neverwhere

July 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm (Reads) (, , )

NeverwhereNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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I saw something about Audible on Facebook, namely because it was telling me I could download Neil Gaiman reading Neverwhere.  It’s been a long time since I’ve read it — the book was published in 1996, and I’m pretty sure I read it that same year — so it was a good way to refamiliarize myself with the story.  It was pretty much like reading the story again, since all I could remember about it was London Beneath.  The rest of it?  The details?  That’s what I didn’t recall.  And one thing I didn’t realize until I was listening to the story is that a Neil Gaiman story is good because of the details (well, that and the clever way he has of revealing information to the reader).

I also realized that one of the things that makes people fans of fantasy is the way that people can escape from reality and become heroes in another world.  Richard Mayhew, the protagonist, is faced with that same dilemma in Neverwhere, only he’s an unwilling hero.  It makes for an interesting dichotomy, though it’s really nothing new in fantasy.  It was just enough for me to realize that it was a trope of the urban fantasy genre.  Once I realized that, and saw how Gaiman was playing with that convention, the ending took me by surprise.

One of the things I didn’t like about the audiobook is that a lot of the narrative became redundant.  If the narrative said, “Richard sighed,” then Gaiman would say that, then sigh when he shifted into Richard Mayhew’s voice.  I realized that audiobooks probably work better as a dramatization than a straight read-through.

Other than that, though, it was a real treat listening to Gaiman read his own work.  I had the pleasure of seeing him speak at a reading, and I think I still prefer to listen to Coraline than to read it, so it was fun to revisit the book this way.  Gaiman develops voices for each of his characters, and manages to maintain them throughout the reading, so it was easy to tell who was speaking, even without the cues from the narrative.  So, I got to re-read a book that I wanted to read, and I got Neil himself to read it to me.  It’s hard to say that that wasn’t time well spent.

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