Neverwhere Discussion [Part 1]
When I signed up for the Once Upon a Time challenge in April, I was already reading Neverwhere at the time. And so, while I’m not really taking part in the group-read, I am going to keep up with the discussions.
I’ve kept all my reviews spoiler free so far, but I can’t really keep that up if I’m going to be a part of this. So, if you want the spoiler-free review of this absolutely amazing book which I think everyone should read at least once in their life (though I don’t know why you would stop at one, really), go here.
Note: This discussion is about Chapters 1 to 5. I’ve steered clear of any events that take place after that.
1. What do you think of our two villains thus far, Messrs. Croup and Vandemar?
The casual rat-eating creeped me out. Neil Gaiman understands how minds work. It reminded me of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Beast in the Cave – not scary unless you think about it. Everything is just dandy until you realise that there’s this one word, or one sentence, that has been strategically placed so that the entire atmosphere surrounding what has just happened shifts. Rat-eating by itself would have unsettled me a little, yes, but the fact that it was depicted as a perfectly natural event…Brr.
Of the two, Croup was the one that scared me. Someone who talks the way he does – politely, a complete gentleman – and then does the things he does? Draw me a map and tell me how to get away from him.
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?
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll do it again. This is, beyond a doubt, the most real fantasy setting I have ever come across. Ever. I love how Gaiman takes the real and the mundane, and manages to stretch it just a little bit – enough so that it has elements that are completely original and leave you shaking your head in wonder, but not so much that you can’t relate to it. Even though I think that a healthy diet of dragons and elves and phoenixes is good for you, Gaiman gives you a story you can actually be a part of. Something you can slip yourself into quite easily.
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 like how the pigeons and the rats command a level of respect. Every being in Neverwhere, every single one has a purpose and they are recognized for it. They might be challenged, feared, or worshipped because of it, but I like the fact that the recognition is there. It becomes apparent in subsequent chapters that everybody knows things about everybody else, but nobody mentions it out loud. Which, of course, means that Richard Mayhew is left to figure things out the hard way, sometimes.
4. We’ve met a number of secondary characters in the novel, who has grabbed your attention and why?
The Marquis de Carabas. I have a tiny book-crush on him. He’s brilliant, and unpredictable, and he was the one character that surprised me with what he did at every turn. I love the impatience with which he treats Mayhew, but you can tell he’s a great guy, even though you’re always questioning his loyalties. There’s something about him that’s a little sneaky, like he’s hiding something really important, which of course leaves you itching to find out what it is.
“He…’ Richard began. ‘The marquis. Well, you know, to be honest, he seems a little bit dodgy to me.’
Door stopped. The steps dead-ended in a rough brick wall. ‘Mm,’ she agreed. ‘He’s a little bit dodgy in the same way that rats are a little bit covered in fur.”
Also, this whole owing-favours-business is very intriguing.
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?
This was one of my favourite images in the entire book.
I’d like a self-replenishing book. Every time you turned the last page, shut it, and then opened it again, it would have a different story. A globe that played music to suit my mood. I’m going to borrow from J.K.Rowling and ask for something like Hermione’s pouch.
That wraps it up for now. I haven’t answered the sixth question (If you haven’t already answered it in the questions above, what are your overall impressions of the book to this point?) because I’ve reviewed this before. Part two takes place on the 28th of May. Till then, happy reading!