Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Prologue - Chapter 5
Stainless Steel Droppings.
In full disclosure, I admit that couldn't stop reading this book at Chapter 5 and ended up reading straight through to the end. I loved it and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. There is one thing--an unaddressed question that nagged me for maybe the last third of the book that keeps me from giving it five stars. I'm hoping other readers can help me understand that inconsistency later in our book discussion of the last chapter set. Maybe I missed something. Anyway, the discussion questions below and my answers do not reveal any spoilers past Chapter 5 in Neverwhere. Actually, they don't reveal much of anything about the specifics of the plot, so even if you haven't read Neverwhere, it's still pretty safe to read.
1. What do you think of our two villains thus far, Messrs. Croup and Vandemar?
My first impression of Messers. Croup and Vandemar was that they were a sinister version of Abbot and Costello. I picture their physical appearances to be very different, but their airs quite similar. In my imagination, Croup and Vandemar have this classic retro villain style to them in looks and in their behavior. Their actions and conversations are almost comical, but they're SO sinister and downright creepy that instead of laughing, you end up cringing and fighting the urge to vomit instead. Okay maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not much! They're sly and creepy and enjoy gory things way too much. I would not want to bump into them in London Below, London Above or anywhere for that matter.. but they sure do make Neverwhere p-r-e-t-t-y interesting...
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?
London Below is a fascinating place both physically and conceptually. I suppose for the most part, London Below might just look like abandoned train or sewer tunnels, but somehow Gaiman paints it in a light that's a bit more magical than that. I suppose the people who inhabit London Below bring it to life with their different histories, talents and ambitions. Overall, though, I find London Below to be a rather melancholy place.
3. What ideas or themes are you seeing in these first 5 chapters of Neverwhere? Are there any that you are particularly drawn to?
I definitely see the theme of "finding your true self" going on with our protagonist, Richard Mayhew. He thinks he's on the path he's supposed to be on.. he's got good job, a beautiful fiancee--all leading him to a desirable future. But we all know that's not what life is all about, right? All of a sudden Richard gets thrown down a new path--a frightening one, one he doesn't want and you can't help but wonder and HOPE that this might just turn out to the best thing that's ever happened to him. Maybe he'll find himself along the way this time. If he doesn't get himself killed, that is!
4. We've met a number of secondary characters in the novel, who has grabbed your attention and why?
The marquis de Carabas has grabbed my attention for sure because I can't quite figure him out! Who is he to Door? And is he really looking out for her best interests? Can he be trusted? I really want to trust him, but I can't shake this feeling that he would betray his own mother without batting an eyelid!
I also really liked Anaesthesia and was rather upset over what happened to her on the Bridge.
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?
Oh, I imagine a strange myriad of items for sale or trade at the Floating Market including strange, unidentifiable edibles, unusual trinkets from times past, articles of clothing... anything really. If I were at the Floating Market, perhaps I would look to purchase a small piece of jewelry--an unique ring, bracelet or locket of some sort, by which to remember my trip.
6. If you haven't already answered it in the questions above, what are your overall impressions of the book to this point?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first several chapters of Neverwhere and actually found it difficult to stop reading it... so I finished it! :)
Discussion questions and answers for Chapter 6 through Chapter 12 will be posted Monday, May 28th.
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