Neverwhere (1996), by Neil Gaiman

This is a slightly off-centre fantasy from Neil Gaiman, who is better known for his fantasy graphic novels. It appears in graphic novel form, as well, but unlike most of Gaiman’s works, was produced first as a TV series script, then a novel, then released in its graphic novel format.  It is hard to say if this is written for teenagers or the 20- or even 30-something crowd, but I believe it can be appreciated by all these age groups.  The tale is a romance between a rather insecure and ineffectual businessman in London and a young girl from “London below,” a parallel world that exists in the Underground system beneath the city.  There are a significant number of references to British popular culture, so readers who have visited or lived in London will understand and appreciate the humour in the text more fully than those who haven’t.  Still, I think that even without complete comprehension of the “in” jokes and humorous references, readers will enjoy the tongue-in-cheek wit Gaiman instills into his rather bizarre narrative. The book is a novelization of the BBC mini-series created in 1996, which was mostly great fun… Some of the acting left quite a bit to be desired; still, when it first aired, I had never heard of Gaiman, and the premise was gripping, relying as it did on local knowledge and incorporating Gaiman’s twisted sensibilities and powerful narrative abilities…. so I loved it. Not surprisingly, though, even if the script came first, the book is far better: one of my favourite of Gaiman’s works.

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