I blame Charles DeLint for my opinion of Neverwhere. I have heard criticisms that I can agree with--the bad guys and grossness are a little over the top, to the point where you feel like maybe Neil Gaiman is enjoying Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar a little too much. And there are a lot of things he does in his fantasy world that are fun but don't hold up past the moment of delightful cleverness that they deliver. You can't picture all these creatures he created continuing on their underground ways after we've moved out of their scene.
But still, I think Charles DeLint is to blame for my reaction to this book, because he filled me up with "invisible people who have slipped through the cracks of society and now live in a world that goes on side by side with the world we know, but in the shadows." (That probably didn't deserve scare quotes, but still.) Now that I think about it, though, there's something neat about the confluence of psychology (what's the difference between invisible and ignored?), quantum physics (worlds existing beside each other, but slightly skewed) and pure fantasy (the Marquis, the Hunter, the Beast). And at least Door, unlike every single DeLint heroine does not have a short bushy haircut, a fitted tank top, baggy jeans and combat boots. She's got a leather jacket.
Gaiman is better than DeLint is (than DeLint is most of the time; I've only read a few of his, and I really liked Jack of Kinrowan). He's great with clever, and he understands the difference between things that are inherently important, things that can be considered unimportant, and things that must be considered important. Dignity, responsibility, loyalty.
This all sounds kind of fishy when I tell it. I'm trying to take a loftier look at what is basically a good story, with a traditional English fellow (I kept thinking of him as Arthur Dent) in the middle of it. I enjoyed it very much as such, but I'm not sure how book club will take it.