Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
This book follows the adventures of Richard Mayhew. At the beginning of the book, he is a typical businessman, engaged to be married and living a pretty normal life. One evening, while walking to a restaurant, Richard helps a girl whom he finds bleeding on the sidewalk. He takes her back to his apartment, and suddenly his life changes. The girl disappears and so does every trace of his normal life. He finds himself in a new world that he never knew existed, a world underneath London, a world full of interesting and weird people and places.
I read this book for one of my online book groups (Stitch and Book). I had read American Gods previously and really enjoyed it. Neil Gaiman's prose is amazing, and his ability to describe scenes and characters is engrossing. One of my favorite images describes a fight that takes place at the floating market. Fighters are trying out to get a job as a bodyguard. In this fight, a female comes forward to challenge the current champion, who had just defeated a number of dangerous guys. The female turns out to be a really great fighter: "Richard was thunderstruck: it had been like watching Emma Peel, Bruce Lee, and a particularly vicious tornado, all rolled into one and sprinkled with a generous helping of a mongoose killing a king cobra. That was how she had moved. That was how she had fought."
However, I was disappointed with the characters in this book. I found the villains, Croup and Vandemar, to be too cliché. They reminded me at times of Pinky and the Brain, as one of them is very intelligent and always knows what the plan is, while the other is trying to keep up. At other times, they made me think of that group of bad guys who are altogether evil and will go out of their way to do something cruel or disgusting. Many of the other characters in the book were very static. At first I thought this was because this book is Neil Gaiman's first solo novel, but then I learned that this book is based on a tv series. The may explain the type and depth of the characters portrayed.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and recommend it. It was an enjoyable and entertaining read.