Friday, October 21, 2016

“Neverwhere,” by Neil Gaiman

FM's ratings:

          1. Premise 7
          2. Prose 8
          3. Plot 7
          4. Characters 8
          5. Overall 8

Comments (optional - but try to keep it under 3000 words!)

This is one of those “adventures of” stories that are all premise and no plot.  Or at least the plot takes a back seat to the action, to the point that it almost doesn’t matter in what order the events take place.  Almost – that’s an exaggeration.  I have read that the prototype of this kind of novel is “Don Quixote” – that it had never been done before that.  In the author’s Introduction to the edition I read he says, “What I wanted to do was write a book that would do for adults what the books I had loved when younger, books like Alice in Wonderland, or the Narnia books, or The Wizard of Oz, did for me as a kid.”  I have read other works that attempted the same thing, and I’m not yet convinced it can be done effectively.  Clive Barker’s “Abarat” books and China Mieville’s “Un Lun Dun” are excellent attempts.  Even “Huckleberry Finn” can be seen in this light.  They still read like a “kid’s book.”  (Soon, I will attempt Clive Barker’s “Imajica,” another “weighty tome.” I’ve heard great things about it.)  This is not my favorite type of novel; it feels like the author is constantly wandering from the premise, with seemingly unrelated “side-stories” popping up every chapter or so.  Even if, when you finish, you can see in hindsight good reasons for including the “side-stories,” the continuity of plot is constantly being interrupted – and I find that mildly irritating.  Having said all that – this is a very good attempt at creating such a work.  I had heard that Gaiman’s works were horror of the most sophisticated sort, taking the genre beyond where even Clive Barker has gone.  Maybe I chose the wrong one to begin with.  I will certainly be re-visiting this author, perhaps with “Anansi Boys.”

Here’s the November line-up!

“Tickled to Death,” by Joan Hess [11-5-16]
“Gulliver’s Travels,” by Jonathan Swift [11-12-16]
“A Thousand Splendid Suns,” by Khaled Hosseini [11-19-16]
“One for the Money,” by Janet Evanovich [11-26-16]

(As always, if there are any books you’d like to recommend for next month, please do so.  Also, if you have already read one on our previous lists, you are invited to send your ratings and or comments for that book!)