Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Stardust" by Neil Gaiman

Summary: Tristan Thorn, a young man of eighteen, does not know that he is no normal boy, but was instead conceived by his father and a mysterious woman from the land beyond Wall--the land of Faerie.  Tristan is desperate for Victoria Forester's love, and when she agrees to give him whatever he desires if he brings her a falling star they saw land, Tristan sets off into Faerie to locate the star.  When Tristan meets the star--who is actually an injured young woman--they set off on a journey together back to Wall.

Musings: I had completely forgotten that Stardust was made into a movie, which I saw a few years back.  I didn't care much for the movie at the time, and I wish I hadn't seen the movie before reading the book.  I couldn't have remembered much of the film if you'd asked me, but once I started reading, the film's images popped up in my head, distracting me from being immersed in the book in its own right.  The movie follows the book almost exactly, so there wasn't much room for my imagination.  Funnily enough, I remembered someone else reviewing the book recently, and when I found that it was She's review, I saw that she had said much of the same thing.

I love Gaiman's ability to create a fantasy world with quirky characters, but Stardust fell a bit flat to me. Perhaps it's because so many characters and storylines are weaved into one short (just over 200-page) novel.  In addition to Tristan's and Yvaine's (the star's) stories, there are the stories of Tristan's mother and her enslaver, the witches seeking the star, and the lords of Stormhold, as well as multiple minor characters.  To squeeze all that in, the book becomes narrative rich and characterization poor.  Events happen so quickly and with so little development and reflection that I never settled in and committed.

The small moments of humor that characterize Gaiman's writings are still there (I adored the star's expletive upon falling to the ground), and someone looking for a quick and fun fantasy story won't be disappointed.  Just save the movie until afterwards.

On a side note, I noticed that my library clearly labeled and shelved Stardust as YA.  However, no less than three times within publisher's materials inside the book itself is it referred to as an adult title.  Interesting that a teenage protagonist (even though, at eighteen, Tristan's more or less an adult) and fantasy setting seem to guide the placement more than (what I presume to be) the author or publisher's wishes.

1 comment:

  1. I love both the film and the book, but I am very glad I read the book before seeing the movie. The bits of humor are typical Gaiman and all fun, aren't they?