Other Books 2013/14

Other Books – Stardust, Neil Gaiman Read 28/5/14

Affiliate Link:Stardust

I know you are supposed to read the book first and then watch the film, but unfortunately for me I saw the film without knowing it was a book, then discovered it in a bookshop and thought “let’s give that a go”.

I must admit after the rather heavy nature of The God of Small Things it was such a relief to get to a book so light and mysterious in nature. I had loved the atmosphere of the film and I can’t believe that they were able to capture the sense of the book so well.

Tristran Thorn promises the girl he loves that he will get her the star they have just watched fall to earth and so he sets off into the mystical world of Faerie where everything is simultaneously similar and strange. It is the kind of fantasy world I love where it feels so much more real because there are points of reference and familiarity. The story follows many of the conventions of a European fairy tale including evil witches and ‘noble’ princes.

Most of all it has the humour of Neil Gaiman which works so well in Stardust because of the dark nature of the story. He is able to use the fairy tale conventions to utilize his slightly warped comedy and everything works in such harmony it is as if Gaiman was meant to write fairy tales.

There is also a ‘coming-of-age’ element to the story as Tristran gets a lot more than he bargained for on his journey to find the star and subsequently with the star. There is adventure and romance and Tristran has to learn to negotiate the stormy sea of adulthood and everything it brings. I suppose that this story falls under the category of ‘Epic Quest’ but it has only just struck me as such because it was so fun and quests must be tough and serious and noble.

One of my favourite parts of the story is the sub-plot of the Stormhold princes who battle it out to become heir of their father’s kingdom. I just love the Monthy Python-esque attitude towards death; I am chuckling just thinking about it. Plus the plot comes round in such an unexpected way it makes the novel for me.

It’s a lovely read full of good old-fashioned English folk-lore and it has an ending to warm the heart if a little predictable.

Rating: 4/5

Would recommend to: adults who want to read a fairy tale.

The Big Read

No. 67 – Good Omens, Terry Prachett and Neil Gaimen 15/3/14

Affiliate Link:Good Omens

I am totally aware that Terry Pratchett is supposed to be hilarious, but I didn’t find this very funny at all. It felt to me like the kind of Monty Python intellectual humour which I find a bit snobbish. It is all a bit silly in a smart-arse sort of way and I don’t think I laughed once. So as far as my understanding of humour goes Good Omens is mildly amusing. Some quite ridiculous things happen that are comical because of there absurdity but they are too ridiculous, too bizarre to give you that humour through mutual understanding which I love; I have laughed more at internet memes.

Apart from that I really quite enjoyed the story. I liked the characters and was incredibly eager to find out how the Armageddon was going to be avoided, the tone of the novel gave away the fact that it would, and I am quite glad I read it. There is a little social commentary in the relationship between Crowley and Aziraphale because despite the greater schemes of heaven and hell they are just two individuals try to get by in the world. What it didn’t do for me was make me think about the heaven and hell or “the ineffable plan” or any of that. I think maybe it was written to be a satire on certain elements of religion but I didn’t find it at all thought provoking.

I wasn’t to sure about the role of the 11-year old Antichrist. That isn’t a sentence I ever thought I would write. It is just such a strange element to the story and then it sort of fizzles out; I can’t even remember what happens to him. I think he lives happily ever after having had a happy, secure upbringing. But really that says a lot about his part in the story; he was supposed to be crucial and I can’t remember what happened to him. Also I must admit I find long passages of  children’s dialogue in novels tiresome, mostly because author’s tend to really force the issue that they’re children by painstaking demonstrating their laboured thought processes, and this novel has large chunks of the Adam the Antichrist, get it it’s ironic and supposed to be funny, converses in a den with his friends.

I also have issue with the ending. For starters, I can’t remember it but also I was left feeling incredibly unsatisfied. It was all a bit rushed and convenient and I like my endings a little more dramatic than that. It was disappointing to carry on with a book I had only sort of enjoying to be let down at the end.

Rating: 3/5

Would (not) recommend to: anyone who has issues with blasphemy.