The first Read Along post:
I read Neverwhere years ago. I first started to read Gaiman through Sandman and then found his books.
1. What do you think of our two villains thus far, Messrs. Croup and Vandemar?
They’re certainly quirky and memorable and very, very creepy. One of the creepiest things is that Gaiman uses funny descriptions for them. At the same time, they also don’t have any redeeming qualities; they kill people and enjoy it. They’re also not human. They seem to have the ability to travel through time, or in time, because we first see them in 1550 and they discuss going to London Below, four hundred years forward. And they don’t bleed. They’re certainly very effective and scary villains.
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?
It has very much an Alice in Wonderland feeling except that while Wonderland was somewhere else, London Below is right there, if you want to see it. It’s filled with the “undesirable people”; the homeless, the unemployed, the sick, and the suffering who have fallen down society’s safety nets. They’ve formed their own society with their own rules because they have to.
People of London Above don’t even see the people of London Below, much as we have a tendency to ignore the nastier sides of our society as long as we can.
3. What ideas or themes are you seeing in these first 5 chapters of Neverwhere? Are there any that you are particularly drawn to?
There’s the allusion to Alice in Wonderland with Richard obviously as Alice but he’s happy to get away and back to his normal life.
Above people also ignore Below people like the “ordinary” in society ignore the homeless and desperately poor.
There’s also commentary on the coldness of our society. Jessica is a prime example: she donates to charity but just steps over wounded Door like she isn’t there. She also says to Richard that “they all have homes to go to. Really.” In her priorities, her life and any advantage she can get, is far above anyone else.
4. We’ve met a number of secondary characters in the novel, who has grabbed your attention and why?
Door is an obvious one. She’s the damsel in distress, a plot device, but she’s also intelligent and resourceful. She also has to constantly make deals and think about politics.
However, my very favorite character in Neverwhere is Hunter: competent and deadly. She doesn’t flaunt her skills until she needs to impress Door and the Marquis. Her short conversation with Richard is funny and apt: She sells her body and Richard immediately jumps to the conclusion that she’s a prostitute. (What else can a woman be, right? Yet, from a certain point of view, that’s what we all do: sell our labor and so our bodies.) In my mind’s eye I can’t help but see her as Gina Torres (from Firefly).
The Floating Market is also a whole character by itself.
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?
Lost, stolen, forgotten items. Probably all the socks I’ve lost, especially just one of the pair… Possibly lost artwork, like unheard of Shakespeare plays.
I’d be looking for all the things I lost in my last move.
6. If you haven’t already answered it in the questions above, what are your overall impressions of the book to this point?
I still haven’t warmed up to Richard. He has the tendency to let others decide his life and do what is expected of him instead of what he really wants. OTOH, that’s probably true of most of us, to a point.
But I love, love the setting of the London Below and Above.