Audiobook Review: Neverwhere: BBC Dramatization

 

never

Nevewhere by Neil Gaiman

Dramatization written by Dirk Maggs

Narrated by James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Anthony Head, David Harewood, and more

Runtime: 3 hours and 48 minutes

Goodreads Synopsis:

Beneath the streets of London there is another London. A subterranean labyrinth of sewers and abandoned tube stations. A somewhere that is Neverwhere.

My Review:

I’ve read a lot of great reviews on this book, and I certainly enjoyed it. However, it wasn’t quite what I expected it to be, and therefore, to my fullest regret, I can not give this review five stars.

Gaiman has never disappointed me, and I’m not saying Neverwhere was a disappointment, but  the abridged version was far too rushed for the entire story to be as compelling as Gaiman originally wrote it.

Let me start with the story. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is a brilliant story, and I was completely captured with London beneath and London above. The premise of the story, a second London in which all memories forgotten, and all of the people who have fallen through the cracks exist, was a thrill. It had everything you love about fantasy – mystery, danger, a little bit of nonesense. I highly recommend the story of Neverwhere

This version was abridged, which I knew before starting. I know that abridged versions can’t possibly tell the story with the same suspense as the original, but I felt this one was shortened too much. The original audiobook is over 12 hours long and this version comes in at less than 3 hours. A fraction of the time means a fraction of the story.

The storytelling itself was very good. It was told by some popular Hollywood voices such as Christopher Lee, James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anthony Head…. and more. Neil Gaiman even makes a small appearance. They told the story very well and I had no difficulty with understanding the character’s roles; it was easy to recognize their emotion and predicament simply by the use of tone and expression of the narrators. It is a dramatic reading, so you can expect to get the full effect of the story that is told. It is much like watching a film with your eyes closed. They even used sound effects in every scene. In fact, the sound effects were as much a part of the story as was the voice acting.

The audio mixing was well done, but I had a hard time understanding the actors at times when the sound effects were too dominant. I was listening with my headphones and I was constantly adjusting the volume up and down because the voices would get lost in the sounds of splashing water or sometimes the sound effects would be deafening loud. The sound effects helped lay out the scene, but they interrupted the story at times beyond their usefulness.

I was enjoying the story and nearly addicted to listening to it; I was more than happy to have to wait for the bus to arrive to my stop since it allowed me plenty of time to listen to the story uninterrupted. I made my way through the first 6 chapters and was giddy to begin the last one. I was on a long car drive, so I knew I would be able to finish it without stopping. To my disappointment however, the story was already done. The last 28 minutes of the story, all of chapter 7, were bloopers and additional readings from the cast. I felt cheated out of more story. Granted, the bloopers had me laughing out loud at times, but I was much more interested in learning more of the story.

Ultimately, Neverwhere was worth the read. I still highly recommend this story to anyone with any interest. It’s a compelling story and the voice acting is very well done. I’m sure I will return to it often for a quick read. Some of the sound effects were distracting to the story, and the abridged version will never be a match for the full version, but Neverwhere is engaging fantasy for all book-lovers.

I give Neverwhere: BBC Dramatization a 3 out of 5 stars. 

3 Stars

Book Review: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book

By Neil Gaiman

Harper Collins, 2009

GB

Goodreads Synopsis:

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family . . . 

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

 

My Review:

Well, I loved it. As a fan of Gaiman’s works, this did not disappoint.

The story of Nobody Owens, while flecked with spine-chilling terrors, is a Romantic story of adventure and bravery. Not to be presumptuous here, but I think that every child dreams of a life in the wild; Gaiman’s approach is a delightful little twist on that imagination. Bod is raised in a nature preserve, one that happens to be a long forgotten graveyard. The home of the dead becomes Bod’s life and protection. From  a toddler tumbling through the overgrowth to a teenager protecting a land he memorized in his youth, Bod’s life is anything but ordinary to readers, yet he is an ordinary boy. Gaiman tells of a whole new adventure, one I’ve never even fathomed.

The premise of the book is fascinating with old devils and myths retold. Bod’s strange friends make the book exciting on every page, but his encounters with some pretty nasty men and the supernatural (beyond ghosts, of course)are absolutely captivating. I hated putting this book down. You know, one of those books that’s so good you become so anti-social your friends and family begin to murmur concerns about your well-being. It’s a quick read though, unless you have to keep putting it down for work.

Bod faced new struggles everyday- learning which of his neighbors whom not to disturb to having to deal with lessons and homework when there was so much exploring to do. In so few pages, all of Bod’s youth was covered. And in doing so, much of time was completely passed. One chapter Bod would be five years and the next chapter he was eight. It could get difficult to follow. Along with that, some scenes seemed to have been written early and didn’t quite match the flow of the novel. Entire chapters took a complete turn from the previous one with little to no transition, it made the story seem like it might take a new turn, only to end up back on the same storyline as before. The story itself never falters to engage readers, but it does include some scenes that don’t seem to fit the entirety of the novel. Not to say they were distracting, they were great, just a bit curious is all.

The Graveyard Book is a great read, another Gaiman classic. It intrigues the imagination while covering important coming-of-age issues. It is a story of a boy raised in a graveyard, but it is a story for boys and girls alike. If you have children, I recommend this one as  read-aloud. It is a great story to share with the family. It has supernatural elements, romance, growing up sympathies, adventure and danger.

 

I give The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman a four and a half out of five stars!

4.5 Stars