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Veniss Underground [Paperback]

4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unnecessarily Deep Aug. 27 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I like VanderMeer, but this was less than I expected of him. It needed some more editing, for starters; the whole thing had an unpolished quality to it. Secondly, it felt rushed. Large portions of what would have been good story were entirely skipped over. Characters who would have been interesting were left by the wayside.
Read CITY OF SAINTS AND MADMEN instead.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Short But Intense July 7 2004
Format:Paperback
Although, or better to say because, the book is rather short (I needed about 4 hours to read it) it is intense and grotesque in many aspects.
First, the formal layout of the book is three chapters, written in the first, second and third person perspective. This produces in particular for the two first two chapters a personal almost intimidating experience. This is emphasized by the rather erratic language, which are more an assembly of half-sentences and second thoughts than well written prose, but it serves its purpose to enhance the claustrophobic, dooms-day feeling of the main characters.
The central part is the last chapter (I regard the first two chapter as a prologue to it) describing the voyage from the surface to the deepest level of the underground. It feels like a modern version of the Dante's Inferno. Vandermeer describes that which the progress in the underground humanity is more and more withdrawn. First it is only reflected in the behavior of people living there in despair. Then even their appearance alters (like the reappearance of the main character of the first chapter). Further down the underground is populated with creatures which only remaining humane character treat is suffering because they recognized the agony to live in that place and the awareness of their own doomed and flawed existence. At the end even that is gone and what remains is a chaotic dog-eats-dog world.
I rarely encountered a book which provoke so much emotion while reading and long after that. The book defies any classification into SF or Mystery and its use of first and second person narrative makes it so distinct to other who tried a similar approach.
Highly recommended
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Format:Paperback
What an interesting and grotesquely beautiful book, painted in vivid shades of despair! I picked Veniss Underground up on a recommendation, and am very glad that I did.
Overall, it is the story of a man seeking to save his lover, and perhaps also his soul, for he blames himself for her circumstances.
On Veniss, the cities are compacted into worlds of their own, each with their own political forces and policing policies; not only above ground, but beneath the world are levels extending far down into the deepest and most despairing depths.
The story picks up with Nicholas and Nicola, brother and sister formed in the same vat, birthed and raised together. Nicholas is an artist and Nicola a civil programmer, so very close when they were young, they were now miles apart both mentally and socially.
Shadrach is friend to Nicholas and former lover of Nicola, a large man who used to run supplies across the wastes in-between cities and now has a deep-rooted fear of the Underground.
When Nicholas goes missing, Shadrach doesn't give it much thought until he finds that not only is Nicola also missing, but pieces of her have turned up at a rich woman's estate.
Shadrach knows that Nicholas was last seen heading for the headquarters of his own mysterious boss, Quinn. Quinn is the ultimate "Living Artist", creating brand new lifeforms both useful and hideous. Nicholas had wanted to purchase a Meerkat from Quinn, in order to protect him from the police who robbed him.
Shadrach vows to find Nicola, and kidnaps the head of her former Meerkat to take into the Underground with him on his quest for Nicola, and his drive to hunt down and kill the enigmatic Quinn.
What makes Jeff Vandermeer's novel so very intriguing is his tri-view approach to telling his tale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the Rest May 21 2004
Format:Paperback
I first saw this slim tone siting on the shelf of my local bookshop. It seemed but a slight annoyance yet I decided to buy it. It turned out to be a very good annoyance indeed. Intricate, macarbe, puzzling, violent, pathetic, angry, revenge and redemption entwined in a strange sub earthic hive. Love and hatred entwined in an uneasy unresloved relationship. Lost loveones, loveones to be found again. The search for the creator bio-engineer to be sacrificed on the alter of redemption. Even a giant fish thrown in for good measure (Jonah and the whale anyone). Suicide from a speeding train. The list goes endlessly on and endlessly entertaining. A phantmosgorsmical regurgitation right out of Richard Burtons "Anatomy of Melancholy". I have given it 5 stars simply because there is so little fantasy out there which I consider original and a riping good yearn. This more than amply meets the bill.
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Format:Paperback
This fine little dagger of a book should be feared even at the mere mention of its name. Lesser writers throw out hints that horrors are lurking but often fail to deliver - like those many movie trailers that are better than the movie. Veteran readers possess this cynical knowledge. But Mr. VanderMeer is all Bosch with no bosh. The character of Shadrach is like a highland scot and the ruin he seeks to inflict on the Gnostic demiurge-like Quinn shows real psychological insight on Mr. VanderMeer's part. Despair at the harm inflicted on his beloved fills Shadrach with a real moral fury somewhat similar to what the biblical Samson went through before he tore down the temple of the Philistines. The archons who rule the underworld show a demonically boyish good pleasure at collecting people's body parts (I will say no more)that ultimately has no rational basis. The whole apparatus of "collection" in all of its complexity is ultimately founded on absolutely nothing. That also shows Mr. VanderMeer's psychological acuity and does good credit to his interest in surrealism - that wilted stinky rose that enchants as it even repels. I am reminded that in "Castle of Days" Gene Wolfe says that science fiction is really just "chrome-plated" fantasy. I would argue that Mr. VanderMeer is essentially a religious writer but is there any other God presiding over his moral universe other that a demi-urgic Quinn? I must agree with others that Mr. VanderMeer's language is not great. It has a definite power of enchantment in it but he has yet to say something as good or sweeping as "A rose is a rose by any other name" or "Juliet is the sun." I cannot agree with others who feel that the characters are two-dimensional but I would strongly advise Mr. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Shadrach's descent into the underworld
Perhaps the nicest thing about the book is it's brevity, for a book that broadly falls into the fantasy genre. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2004 by JP
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not classic
Veniss Underground is the first work by Vandermeer that I have read, and I must say that I was impressed. Read more
Published on Dec 13 2003 by proteusyndrome
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, modern myth
In "Veniss Underground" Jeff VanderMeer has produced a fascinating retelling of the underworld mythology that so riddles our collective subconscious. Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2003 by J. N. Mohlman
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated.
This guy still has problems with pronouns and people are practically handing him a Hugo. I'll admit I read it at Pizza Hut, but this book just screams, "Like me! Read more
Published on July 30 2003 by Eric Hines
5.0 out of 5 stars Dante's Inferno of the Far Future
A mesmerizing tale of damnation and salvation set in a horrific far future where human bodies are infinitely malleable material for artistic manipulation. Read more
Published on May 15 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy homicidal meerkats!
Veniss Underground is one of those books that makes you think about it long after you've read the last word. Read more
Published on May 14 2003 by Jason E. Lundberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Like an adder's kiss!
Veniss Underground is an entertaining, action-packed story with real characters that develop (or otherwise mutate) as the story progresses. Read more
Published on April 24 2003 by albemuth
5.0 out of 5 stars The Carnival of Veniss
I was greatly impressed by VanderMeer's themed collection of stories, City of Saints and Madmen, so expected something equally good with his first novel. Read more
Published on April 5 2003
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