Neverwhere is a novelization of a six part 1996’s BBC miniseries “Neverwhere” where we follow the self-discovery journey of Richard Mayhew, a Scotsman in London who have a job and a fiance and enjoying the redundant life expected of him until one day, he help an injured girl named Door who suddenly came out of nowhere and by doing so, he encountered two nefarious villains; Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar, a curious pirate gear wearing Marquis de Carabas, Old Bailey and the curious underworld called London Below. Right after Door was safe, he realized that somehow something had erased his existence in his life. No one remembers him, not including his ex-fiance nor his best friend nor his landlord nor his employer nor everyone in London for that matter. Invisible and lost, Richard found himself in the London sewers among those who had also fallen into the cracks where magic and darkness reigns.
On the other hand, Door was pursued by the same people who had killed her family. Along with her ability to open any doors and make doors out of nothing, she managed to be saved by a kind upworlder but unfortunately is responsible for making him an undersider like her. Wondering why her family was massacred, she call for the help of Marquis de Carabas who owed her father a favor to seek the Angel, Islington where she hope he would have the answers to everything.
I don’t intend on reading this book until Neil Gaiman make a movie out of this because in my experience, Neil Gaiman movies are always better. Mostly because Neil Gaiman is quite a simplistic writer. His style leave nothing more to the imagination unless he wanted to be so he tend to write like showing a passive tv viewer instead of writing to an attentive reader.
That is why I read this book accompanied by the uber-fantastic radio play acted by some of my favorite people in British film industry. Namely James McAvoy, Sir Christopher Lee and Anthony Head and Benedict Cumberbatch tip in the favor to kick up this book up even further. Because without them, this book really was a mirror image of the original tv series which can be quite painful to watch (try youtube search “Neverwhere”). I remember how disenchanted I was with Stardust so I was quite wary with reading anything by Neil Gaiman these days but “The Graveyard Book” is an exception. In the radioplay, there were added Latin verses which Door uses to open doors, there’s also the advantage of ad-libbing by the casts where I was most familiar with James McAvoy take that hearing him acting and himself effictive as Richard, Anthony Head create Mr Croup more like a sinister English gentleman, Sophie Okonedo’s presence as The Hunter which is less comical than the tv version, Christopher Lee bringing Earl of Earl’s court alive, Cumberbatch’s bringing the definition of Angel out of Islington and Neil Gaiman’s as Fop with No Name (also as the nasal Mr Figgis). Not to mention the excellent music direction which brought realism to everything. I would say it was by far the greatest radioplay in BBC existence and I think I have heard several of them.
Unfortunately, had “Neverwhere the novel” not be a quite faithful novelization, it would have improve the tv plot even further. The characters is painfully archetypal and the story too (boring guy in a constrictive work and love relationship, finding a damsel in distress and magically he got an adventure). There’s also quite an uneven character exploration and the story-arc is undoubtedly amateurish even for Gaiman himself.
Nevermore is in desperate need of a sequel. That is all I can say about this book that was three-star without the radioplay. Now if only he would hurry up making more adaptations of his novels.