Chapter 13 - The End.
This entry concludes the three part read along hosted by Carl V. at Stainless Steel Droppings. Instead of discussion questions this week, Carl has invited readers to discuss their overall thoughts on the book and anything specific that stood out to them in the final section. To read other readers' concluding remarks on Neverwhere, visit this week's read along link-up at Stainless Steel Droppings.
CAUTION: THIS DISCUSSION CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS.
I GIVE AWAY THE ENDING.
READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!!
As I mentioned in my Part I discussion post of Neverwhere, when I sat down to read this book for the read along, I was enjoying it so much that I couldn't put it down at the designated chapters and so I read the whole book before week one was even upon us. I highly recommend it. There was one thing that really bugged me in last third of the book that I felt never got explained or didn't quite make sense to me that I address in this post. Before that, however, I want to first mention all the scenes and elements that I loved about this section of the book.
Angel Islington. An angel! He It came across so calm and pure ... knowledgeable and powerful. And it was the bad guy! I was duped, people. I didn't consider Islington to be the villain and was a bit shocked to learn that Islington was in fact the one who hired Croup and Vandemar to kill Door's family and go after Door. Shocked and concerned for our band of friends who clearly thought the same as I did--that Islington would help Door find out who killed her family and why and help Richard get his life back in London Above. How would they ever survive his lair?
The Marquis de Carabas. By now we know he's not as shady a character as we feared in the beginning of the book. Yes, he's still very mysterious, but thankfully we've established he's trustworthy. I was immensely pleased to also learn in this last section of the book that he's very, very clever [he knew enough to give the box to Old Bailey earlier so that he could save his life!] and rather heroic. He doesn't give up on Door or Richard and he sees them through to the end. Thank you Marquis. :)
Hunter. Oh Hunter. I really felt sorry for her. Her drive to conquer the Beast was SO strong that it blinded her to the possibility that maybe there's more to life than being THE ONE. She was willing to pay any price to be the one to kill the Beast, including betraying innocent people who grew to be her friends! It was at least satisfying to know that she regretted her choices. I'm just sad she learned her lesson a little too late.
Door. Oddly I don't really have much to say about Door. She is a key character [pun intended!!] who really holds the story together and keeps it moving, and I liked her very much in this book. She's determined, independent, kind hearted and she knows when to ask for help. I would read another book about her if Gaiman ever wrote one.
Richard. Forever humble and loyal he's the nice guy who always finishes last and I wouldn't want him any other way. I want to say that Richard's journey in London Below with Door, de Carabas, Hunter, Anaesthesia and even Old Bailey changed him.. but I don't think change is the right word. He's still the same guy only now his eyes are open, he's a bit more confident [except perhaps where high heights are involved.. ], and I picture him standing a little bit taller than he used to. I also like to think that now when he smiles ... it just feels right.
My favorite scenes in this last section of reading were when Richard was absolutely terrified of crossing the plank to the Underside and Door and Hunter needed to coax him across the chasm. I don't know why this short scene stands out for me. Perhaps just because Richard's terror felt very real to me. I also liked the series of scenes after this in the Labyrinth--the Marquis saving Richard from Lamia, Hunter's betrayal is revealed, the face off with the Beast, Hunter's death scene and of course when Richard, the Marquis and Door survive Islington and his cronies! The best part, though, was the very last scene when Richard was pounding on the outline of a door he made in a brick wall and the Marquis opened it and casually asked, "Well? Are you coming?" And Richard went home to London Below. I just love a happy ending. :)
So what didn't I like? I got hung up on Islington's motives and actions in the last third of the book. Maybe I just missed something important, but from what I understand, Islington had been locked away in his vault because he is an angel who went bad, the height of his badness perhaps the fall of Atlantis. He wants to be freed and to do so he needs a key and an opener--someone who can use the key. Someone like Door and her family who have the very unique talent for opening any lock or door. Islington offered a deal to Door's father: if Door's father opened the door for Islington setting him free, he would help Door's father in his political efforts to unite London Below. Door's father refused and so Islington ordered him and his whole family killed. But why kill the entire family? Why kill the only people who could free him and give him what he so desperately wanted? This makes no sense to me.
The only thing I can think of is that Islington ordered Croup and Vandemar to hunt and kill Door's family and then Door [she wasn't home at the time of the murders] out of pure rage? You'd think an angel who has survived this long would have the patience and evil cunning to devise a plan that would force the hand of any member of Door's family after proving his ruthlessness by killing the father. Or at the start, why not kidnap the whole family as leverage and then make Door's father choose between his family's lives or setting Islington free?
In a desperate moment, Islington even tried to sway Door by suggesting he didn't kill her sister and had her hidden away somewhere [Was her body ever found at the murder scene?]. Why didn't he do that in the very first place and then use the sister to get Door to set him free? I'm thinking that would have put Door in an awfully tight spot and she might have just done anything to get her sister back. Instead he tries to have her killed then changes his mind when he thinks she could get the key?
What do you think? Did Islington's poor motivations and weak actions bother you at all? Am I over thinking this?
Overall a great story that would appeal to fans of urban style fantasy and humble quests. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
I'll be traveling to London this summer with my family and of course, using the tube. Rest assured I will be remember to "Mind the gap!" at every instance and will be looking for hidden doors, empty train cars and any signs of our friends. While in London Above I'll keep my eye out for a man dressed in feathers and keep my ears tuned for news on where I might find the Floating Market...