Neverwhere. Head over to Stainless Steel Droppings to check it out.
This is my second reading of Neverwhere. I read it back in 2005 I believe and it was my first Gaiman book. I adored it and have gobbled up Gaiman's work since then. Since this was the first book I've ever read of his, it's become my favorite one...not because it's the best but because I just fell in love with his writing and the idea of London Below.
Before I forget, let me give a big thanks to the blog Adventures of Cecilia Bedilia -- I won my beautiful hardback copy with the cover to the left from her lovely blog. Thanks! And thanks Carl for hosting the read-a-long of this awesome Gaiman book.
Here we go:
1. What do you think of our two villains thus far, Messrs. Croup and Vandemar?
I think one of the reasons that I adore Neverwhere and find it so incredibly entertaining is because the two villains are so incredibly evil and fun. Just read this from page 7:
Mr Vandemar pulled the rat from the blade and began to munch on it, thoughtfully, head first. Mr. Croup slapped it out of his hands. "Stop that," he said. Mr. Vandemar put his knife away, a little sullenly. "Buck up," hissed Mr. Croup, encouragingly. "There will always be another rat. Now: onward. Things to do. People to damage."
They are like an evil underworld Laurel and Hardy. Incredibly horrible and evil but there is also a bit of comedy there that lightens the mood. It just works so well.
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?
Brilliant. I love that people's gaze or notice just slides over Richard when he becomes part of London Below. I remember living in New York and how we totally get used to not looking at strangers or homeless people and how I could totally envision a whole world beneath our notice. I also loved that the London Below has such awesome connections to real London - like the names of Subway stops and all that. For instance: Angel, Islington. (I won't post any "angel" spoilers since we just met the angel Islington at the end of Chapter 5.)
I remember visiting London and the area Angel totally did up the "angel" theme. Let me see if I can dig out a photo. I took this at night, but see how the flower shop has the angel theme? I think the entrance to the shopping area has a halo suspended.
I would love to read about a New York Below and see what Gaiman comes up with. How cool would that be?
3. What ideas or themes are you seeing in these first 5 Chapters of Neverwhere? Are there any that you are particularly drawn to?
I love that Lady Door is on a quest to save herself, find out who killed her family and why, and perhaps take revenge. I am always drawn to stories about families and this one is no exception. I love Door's ability to open, well, a door anywhere.
As I'm typing the questions, I'm skimming over Carl's response and notice that he mentioned the "Alice in Wonderland" aspect which is awesome. Head over to his post to check out his response. When I was little, I too loved this type of thing -- the portal in the wardrobe, rabbit hole, etc. We moved around a lot and every time we'd get a new house I'd knock on all the walls trying to find a secret passageway somewhere. I think this story totally brings out that childhood fantasy of traveling to other places.
4. We've met a number of secondary characters in the novel, who has grabbed your attention and why?
I love Hunter -- Door's bodyguard. She just seems like a kick-butt awesome character. And for some reason I keep picturing Zoe from Firefly as Hunter:
Also, the Rat Girl sequence just broke my heart. I remember her part of the story from the first time I read the book but for some reason, this time, her story was just so heartbreaking and sad. Poor Anaesthesia. I wonder if her name was Anastasia before?
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?
Like Carl's response, I totally think of Stardust's market -- interesting how two of Gaiman's awesome books have markets -- perhaps because markets back in the day where such an important part of life. I'm not sure I'd be looking for anything if I went but what an awesome shopping experience it would be. I wonder what I could bring to sell? One man's junk is another man's treasure.
6. If you haven't already answered it in the questions above, what are your overall impressions of the book to this point?
I was a little hesitant in re-reading my favorite Gaiman book because, well, since I've read a few more of his books I was wondering if it wouldn't live up to my expectations. I was totally wrong. I love love this book. I swear I read Chapters 1-4 in like 30 minutes (I didn't but it totally felt like it.)
If you've never read Neverwere, I encourage you to pick it up and give it a go! It's never too late to read and then think or blog about your responses to the questions. If you have read Neverwhere and/or are participating in the read-a-long -- head over to the end of Carl's post to check out other bloggers responses.