Hello! Many people have told me recently how much they love Neil Gaiman. When Carl mentioned that he wanted to host a group read of Neverwhere for Once Upon a Time I signed up. I was supposed to put up my post yesterday and I had every intention of doing so. But after a day of visiting Warwick Castle, Shakespeare’s home, and Oxford University my mind was spent. I have family in town this week and we are doing as much sightseeing as possible. I apologize for being late to the party. This is a wonderful book and I am looking forward to discussing it with all of you over the week.
Please note that there will be spoilers below. If you would like to follow all of the discussions, please visit this page.
1. What do you think of our two villains thus far, Messrs. Croup and Vandemar?
When Gaiman first introduced Messrs. Croup and Vandemar I thought that I shouldn’t like them. They seemed evil and they are the “bad” guys of the story. However, even though I wouldn’t want to tango with them, I am fascinated by these two creatures. From the section we read, I still don’t know who or what they are exactly. I find them somewhat funny, disturbing, but most of all, something I haven’t encountered in other readings. Maybe that is what I like most about them, the freshness of their evil and humorous ways. I love the way they interact with each other. Out of the two, Mr Croup is my favorite (if you can have a favorite villain). In his words, “Well, slit my gullet, you’re right. How could I have been such a ninny?”
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 am loving London Below. It is a crazy place, where there are rules, but I’m not sure if everyone knows all of the rules. Poor Richard doesn’t even comprehend what he has gotten himself into it. And I think that is a perfect depiction. In today’s world, most of us ignore the parts that disturb us. Gaiman’s London Below is a perfect creation to point out this aspect of our world. Yesterday I was on a tour bus in London with a ton of other people. Everyone was thrilled with the beautiful parts of town, but when we drove by a group of homeless people, most looked away after muttering, “oh that’s awful.” Sometimes in Gaiman’s world, the denizens of London Below go Above and most, if not all of those who live above do not notice them since they probably don’t want to. And watching Richard’s reaction is wonderful. So far I am really impressed with Gaiman’s storytelling abilities. I would love to have a conversation with him since I think he would have some enlightening ideas about this world.
3. What ideas or themes are you seeing in these first 5 chapters of Neverwhere? Are there any that you are particularly drawn to?
Oh the dreaded, what ideas or themes are in the novel question? I was never very good when the teacher turned to me and asked me this question in class. Usually I would freeze and not saying anything, but I was a painfully shy kid so even if the teacher asked what my favorite color was I would freeze and mumble green or something, even though my favorite color is purple.
This first thing that popped into my head are doors. This isn’t clever on my part, since one of the main characters is Door. I am still trying to figure out what the doors symbolize, if anything, or is Gaiman saying that there are doors all over this world that many of us don’t want to explore since we are scared of what we would find.
4. We’ve met a number of secondary characters in the novel, who has grabbed your attention and why?
I’ve already mentioned that I’m fascinated by the two villains. But I have to say that Hunter is very intriguing. I love when a female character kicks butt. And I have to say that I was worried about Croup and Vandemar’s evil scheme so when Hunter came in at the last second, I sighed in relief.
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?
I think I would be too overwhelmed by all of the items in the Floating Market, so knowing me, I wouldn’t be looking for anything in particular. Instead I would be taking many photographs to capture the spirit. Maybe that is what I would be looking for, the perfect picture so I could tell people about the Floating Market. And I’m a people watcher. This sounds like the best place to people watch. Seriously, I’ve been to Harrods and this sounds like a much more entertaining place. Can you tell that I don’t like malls?
6. If you haven’t already answered it in the questions above, what are your overall impressions of the book to this point?
I am really enjoying his storytelling. It seems silly since most writers tell a story, but Gaiman’s novel just flows. He is introducing a whole new world and none of it seems awkward. His characters are spot on. His plot moves quickly, but not too quickly. Reading it is effortless, if that makes sense. Instead of questioning, I am enjoying the novel. I read a good chunk of this novel in a pub with a beer and it was one of the most delightful afternoons. To me, that means that the novel is fantastic. If I look back on my reading experience and say, “What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon,” the author has executed his or her job excellently.
Since my family is in town, it will take a little longer than normal to get to all of your blogs to read your answers. I hope to visit a few each day. Thanks for your patience and I apologize.