Suspension of Disbelief

Suspension of Disbelief: Neverwhere

Suspension of Disbelief is a weekly feature, in which we review movies, books, TV shows, and other popular culture for the skeptical teen.

Book: Neverwhere
Genre:  Fantasy, Fiction
Author: Neil Gaiman

Three out of Five Black Keys

Review: The story of Neverwhere is the story of London Below, the shadow world existing in the cracks of modern London. In the story, a normal man finds himself accidentally pulled into that world, because he chose to help an injured girl collapsed on the sidewalk. By his simple act of kindness, his fate becomes tangled up with hers, turning his nice safe world completely on its head.

While I enjoyed the story, this was not my favorite piece by Gaiman (Coraline definitely wins that award). The narration style was a bit odd; it jumps between different perspectives and characters a lot, which is a little bewildering, especially early in the book. I also felt like the characters were too much caricatures, with not enough development and growth through the story. I just really couldn’t relate to any of them well, which is unusual for me, and usually makes it a lot harder for me to get into a story.

Neverwhere is also rather an open ended story, with a few more loose ends than I’d have liked. It definitely leaves room for a sequel, but it doesn’t sound like Gaiman has intentions of actually writing one. I’d love to know some more backstory of some of the characters, and understand more of how London Below actually operates. There are hints and mentions, but a lot of things are never really explained to the reader.

Still, I did really like the book, and I plan to re-read it again in the future, to pick up on the foreshadowing and plot details I missed the first time. It’s possible that many of the things that bothered me in this first reading, such as the lack of backstory and explanation, will disappear as I re-discover the world and characters. And the plot line of this story was so engaging, that I really couldn’t put the book down, and read it in about 24 hours, which definitely means it was a good story. Not my favorite, but definitely a good read

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Ali Marie

Ali Marie

Ali Marie is a recent Master's of Education graduate, and is now venturing back into the world of non-traditional education, as an outreach program leader at a children's museum. Her interests vary widely, but include board games, music, dinosaurs, and science as a whole.

You can find Ali on Twitter, @ascientifica.


  1. July 3, 2012 at 6:49 pm —

    You should track down a copy of the miniseries if you want to experience it again. The production value on it is pretty horrible, but it’s interesting to watch because it actually came first but then everyone forgot about it after the book came out.

    I think the most important thing to remember when reading Neverwhere is that it’s a book pretending that homelessness is actually a sort of bizarre supernatural parallel existence where things just work differently. There’s also a lot of cute stuff thrown in like explaining the names of various London underground stops by taking them literally.

  2. July 3, 2012 at 8:16 pm —

    Yes, the BBC did say sorry to Gaiman for the hash they made of his TV script. The novel is pretty thin seeming which is probably accounted for by it being written as a thrilling, visual piece for television. The things about novels which are better than TV are not present, while the things about TV which are better than novels were not exploited in the series.

    However, the atmosphere is truly magical and the bad guys are probably the best of all time, anywhere, ever.

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