Saturday, August 25, 2007

Neil Gaiman

I came to Neil Gaiman material in the meandering way that often
happens. I had, of course, heard of _The Sandman_, just as part of popular culture. I think I became aware he wrote novels when I saw his children's book, _Coraline_, in the book store. From skimming, it looked interesting. Then my brother Luke and sister Anna read _American Gods_ and recommended it. I intended to check out his stuff for a long time without getting to it.

About a year ago, on a whim, I bought a collection of the first few
Sandman comics. Enjoyed it. Wasn't blown away. Pretty cool.

Not long ago I was browsing and stumbled on _Neverwhere_. Neil Gaiman novel. Felt like the time. Skimming was promising. I bought it.

Loved it. He did an amazing job of world building. Rich, textured,
multi-layered alternative world under the streets, and on the
rooftops, of London. Darkest, most twisted thing I've read in awhile. And funny. He showed some of what he did so well in _American Gods_, the ability to write the intersection of the mundane and the fantastic. _Neverwhere_ weighed heavy on the fantastic, though.

My only negative observation is that while there were several great characters, the protagonist was lackluster. Really just a device for propelling us into and through the interesting stuff.

Jae liked it, too. A couple weeks ago she picked up _American Gods_ at Birdsong Used Books. I started it excited, and it looked like the excitement was warranted. It is really hard to do that intermeshing of the everyday and the mythical, and he pulled that off amazingly. I have to admit, though, that by the end of the book I was disappointed. While the conception is great, and that aspect I just mentioned brilliant, the storyline just didn't hold me all the way to the end. I can only say
I finished because I skipped ahead and read the end.

So I loved _Neverwhere_. I don't think of _American Gods_ as a
failure, because, as I keep harping on, I'm blown away by his ability to so interestingly set these mythical beings in the a realistic context. For me, not a great book, however.

All and all, an author I enjoy.


shadowfax said...

Funny -- I just finished Neverwhere last week. Bought it in the Colorado Springs Barnes & Noble before we left. I agree entirely with your assessment. A sign of a good book -- I was somewhat disappointed when it ended, and wanted more.

I think I may look up American Gods when I get a chance.

Jill O said...

Based on Jason's recommendation (and love for Gaiman), my mother and I both read American Gods. It was very much outside of my typical read (murder/serial killer/forensic) and left me without comment. I am not sure I enjoyed the book. I am not sure I "got it". Mom said "it was different". Jason continues to encourage me to read other Gaiman books. Right now he is reading "Fragile Things".

Luke said...

You know, I loved _American Gods_ but I totally get what you say about your interest waning. I thought it started much stronger than it finished. Do not let that turn you off from the follow-up, _Anansi Boys_. I am not sure that any one part of _Anansi Boys_ caught me like the first half or so of _American Gods_, but I was surprised to realize when I finished that it was overall a stronger book from front to back.

Josh Gentry said...

Hey, Jill. _Neverwhere_ has two of the creepiest obviously fantasy hired killers that I've read.

Josh Gentry said...

Is _Anansi Boys_ a follow up in the sense that it is related to _American Gods_?

Luke said...

Yes. _Anansi Boys_ is a follow-up in the sense that it takes place in the same "universe" and follows the offspring of one of the gods from _American Gods_. It is by no means a sequel or continuation of the story from _American Gods_ though. Mr Nancy, or an incarnation of an African spider god Anansi, is the common thread between the two books. It is not a sequel, but a "companion" book.

Jill O said...

Maybe I will have to pick up Neverwhere. And I forgot about Anansi Boys. Shame. 2 books to add to my ever waxing and waning read list. I will start expanding my reading horizons today by indulging in an Oprah Book Club book The Road. We will see how that goes! (Just finished the Bachman book, Blaze. Excellent!)

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