1. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
2. Holiday in Cambodia – Laura Jean McKay
3. Only Human – Gareth Roberts
4. Beautiful Chaos – Gary Russell
5. The Silent Stars – Dan Abnett
6. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
7. Every Breath – Ellie Marney
8. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
9. Delirium – Lauren Oliver
10. Pandemonium – Lauren Oliver
11. Requiem – Lauren Oliver
12. Venom – Fiona Paul
13. Belladonna – Fiona Paul
14. A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
Neil Gaiman is a genius. Not only that, but he is a sneaky genius. He has written so many things that you probably have worshipped his genius and not even realised it was his genius you were worshipping. Just now, visiting his website, I have discovered that he was in an episode of Arthur. No, seriously, he was. It’s called “Falafelosophy”. I just checked it out, and I think that every writer should watch it. There is some incredible advice in there. And I’m not just saying that because I never missed an episode of Arthur when I was a kid. People underestimate the wisdom in kids’ shows. Well, the old ones. Nowadays they’re all pretty crap.
Neil Gaiman has done everything. Books? Check. Short Stories? Check. Editing? Check. Poetry? Comics? Movies? TV? Check, check, check, check. (For all you Whovians out there: “The Doctor’s Wife” on that crazy not-planet, where the TARDIS becomes Idris? That’s Neil Gaiman). He is everywhere.; just spreading his genius for everyone to appreciate without fuss or fanfare. He leaves it to all of us to go out of our minds with praise and adoration.
(Seriously, check out his website here. He’s even been in a Simpsons episode, for God’s sake!)
Which brings me to Neverwhere. This novel is actually a novelisation of the 1996 BBC Two show of the same name. I haven’t watched it yet but I intend to at my earliest opportunity because Neverwhere is incredible. And that feels like I’m not doing the author justice. I need an adjective that means innovative, creative, genius, original, and quirky all at once. Oh! I’ve got it: This book is “Gaiman”. There, I just invented my own adjective. Because only a new adjective could possibly encapsulate the awesomeness that is Neverwhere. It is very possible I’m fangirling a little bit here. But you have to understand something: Neil Gaiman is a genre writer. That’s where he lives. He writes fantasy. And I, and a lot of the people I know, adore fantasy. But do you know how the literary community responds to genre writers? With contempt. Complete, utter, and total contempt. It doesn’t matter how talented they are, they are overlooked because they decide to write in a genre. But not Neil Gaiman. Even the Literary gentry couldn’t deny his genius and that speaks volumes.
If you haven’t seen the TV show and have not yet enriched your life with the novelisation of Neverwhere, I will give you a quick taste to whet your appetite: Imagine there are two Londons: London Above, with Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Big Ben, and the River Thames; and London Below, with the Floating Market, the Black Friars’ monastery, and the sewers. London Below is populated by people who “fall through the cracks” as it were. People that live in London Below, or the “Underside”, are invisible to the inhabitants of London Above. So when regular-joe Richard Mayhew stops to help a young injured girl, and suddenly stops existing in his life, we’re in for an interesting ride.
If you are in need of any more convincing that Neverwhere is an amazing piece of Literature, it was made into a radio play just this year for BBC Radio 4. That alone is impressive. But wait until you see who the cast was:
- James McAvoy – Richard Mayhew (no need for an introduction here)
- Benedict Cumberbatch – the Angel Islington (no introduction needed here either, I just love him as Sherlock!)
- Natalie Dormer – Door (Game of Thrones, the Tudors, Elementary)
- David Harewood – Marquis de Carabas (Homeland, Robin Hood, and Doctor Who series 4 finale.
Fun fact: Marquis de Carabas was based on Puss in Boots. True story.
- Sophie Okonedo – Hunter (Doctor Who series 5)
- Anthony Head – Mr Croup (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
- David Schofield – Mr Vandemar (Pirates of the Caribbean)
- Bernard Cribbins – Old Bailey (Doctor Who)
- Romola Garai – Jessica (Atonement)
- Sir Christopher Lee – Earl of Earl’s Court (I think just the fact that someone knighted being in this is enough of an introduction here)
So it should come as no surprise to you that I award Neverwhere:
Neil Gaiman is the writer I hope to be one day. Everyone needs to read at least one of his novels in their lifetime. Make Neverwhere your first Neil Gaiman experience. You won’t regret it, I promise.
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (thewordsmithsreview.wordpress.com)
- Neil Gaiman – advice to artists (dorothyanneb.com)
- On Neil Gaiman’s Writing Style and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (thewordsmithsreview.wordpress.com)
- Neil Gaiman Booksigning in Rotterdam. (hotcutegirlygeek.wordpress.com)
- Meeting a literary hero – Neil Gaiman (friendlyfilmfanreads.wordpress.com)
- Doctor Who Offered a Black Actor the Role and He Turned Them Down, Says Neil Gaiman (geekosystem.com)
- The Best Speech Ever- Neil Gaiman addressing the University of the Arts for the class of 2012 (luzmariapalacios.com)