It was during the September of 2014 that I enjoyed watching Will Smith movies so much that I stumbled upon the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. From then on since last week, the “purpose”, the “thing” that I made sure I did everyday was to watch at least one episode of The Fresh Prince. I did not enjoy it as much as I did Mind Your Language, but you do know how these TV series grow on you, don’t you? Free time meant finishing off as much as I can of the series.
What a sad life.
I remember back in my 11th grade how our TV got burnt from a lightning. I got so bored back then that I took a Calvin & Hobbes comic lying around in the junk (yes, I had left it in the junk box) and read it. I got hooked onto “reading” from that moment on. However, over the past one year, reading had come down to technical documentation, random blog posts from Twitter, etc. It was when I finished The Fresh Prince and I saw I had free time in a day, that I simply picked up Neil’s Neverwhere and flipped through it.
It was amazing.
I must say the first book that I read by Neil Gaiman was Smoke & Mirrors. I was not too impressed, not to say confused, suffice to say I kept it back nicely in my stash after the first few pages. I bought and read Ocean At the End of the Lane afterwards, which I must say, I did not quite enjoy again, although I finished it. I read Sandman and I absolutely loved it, but it was a bit too expensive to keep buying and it was a comic book.
Having had that experience with Neil’s books, I came to the conclusion that his writing is not as engaging and interesting as his talks and speeches. Even then, he did inspire me. You can understand how much if you read through A Fortunate Evening. It was only last week that I found out he had endorsed the exact story that I had written, already through this cartoon of his: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEKheZs2dkg. Thanks to my brother Noufal for sharing it with me.
Why I am so motivated to write this review is because I spent 7 hours yesterday reading. 3 and 4 hours continuously. The last time I did that was with Lord of The Rings, almost 4 years back.
In that cartoon of his, he says that one of the few sentences that any writer loves the most to hear from their readers is, “What happens next?”. The moment that question arises in a readers mind, the writer gets that grin on his face, thinking, “Now I’ve got you in the palm of hands. BUHAHAHAH!”.
First few pages into Neverwhere, that is exactly the question that came into my mind. Even with the last two pages remaining, I could not contain my curiosity. I postponed a meeting with an institution by half an hour just to get through to the end of the book.
One of the most interesting things that struck me about the book was the way his imagination was working. If you are ‘just’ a passionate reader, you’ll zip right through the book, traversing a terrible world, experiencing things that you might have never imagined before. However, if you’ve ever flexed your creative muscles, trying to talk about the non-existent, trying to convince people of it, then you will see what I mean by saying I found it of interest to see how his imagination worked.
During several instances while going through the book, not because the writing was not engaging, but because I had tried to walk down the same road of writing fiction, I was intentionally able to disconnect, take a few steps back and look at what was happening. You could immediately feel the way Neil was having fun, taking advantage of his creative liberties. Being a reader, you will never feel the occurrences to be vague, but the moment you try to see it is a fiction story, you could seem him using the elements around him to build upon what he has. The feeling of connect was truly exhilarating.
The intertwined story telling really built up the excitement. It was almost like that Guitar solo when Joker was upto something in those Nolan Batman movies. From the reading time of switching between two story lines, you could judge how far the climax of that specific part was. This itself gives you the urge to keep going forward, if the story itself is not enough.
The story ending was not one of the best that I have read, but that doesn’t bother me one bit. A good read allows you to create a universe and characters inside it, and relate to them as if you had met them just two days back. I would read any book to get that feeling, which Neverwhere definitely imparted. You will find yourself a lovely sister in Door, two terrible menaces in Croup and Vandemar and an unassuming random-everyday Joe in Richard Mayhew. Although the book did not have any ‘extreme’ moments, so to speak, as there were in Lord of The Rings, it still gave a pleasant reading experience.
If you are a lover of fiction/fantasy, then Neverwhere is definitely recommended.
Not particularly in relation with this specific book, but when I finished reading the story, I realized that words was one of the greatest gifts that God has given humanity. The more you learn how to understand words, and how to wield it, the stronger you become as a person.