Sunday, July 29, 2007

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Perennial, 1999
Fantasy; 250 pgs

Completed: 07/29/2007
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire.

Reason for Reading: For years I have been curious about Neil Gaiman’s Stardust but it took the coming of a movie to finally motivate me to read it. This is my first selection for the Saturday Review Challenge.

Comments: What a wonderful story! I had no idea what to expect when I first began reading Stardust other than what the back of the book had to offer (and the recent movie trailer for the upcoming film). I had heard that Neil Gaiman’s writing in this book was quite different from his others, and while I have only read one other book by Mr. Gaiman, I can at least say it was very different from American Gods, which I read earlier this year.

Different is not a mark of better or worse, however. Stardust was delightful and entertaining, while American Gods was darker and more thought provoking. I was reminded of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride in story and in style.

Tristran Thorn lives in the village of Wall at the turn of the Victorian era. Wall is situated next to the wall that separates the land of Faerie from Tristran’s home in the “real” world. Once every nine years, there is a magical fair in which visitors from all over venture past the wall, through a single gate, into the meadow that lies just beyond. At all other times, the gate is guarded to ensure that no one crosses the gate from Wall into the Faerie.

When a star falls from the sky, Tristran promises the lady he loves that he will retrieve it for her in exchange for whatever his heart desires, be it marriage or perhaps simply a kiss. He sets off for the other side of the wall where he will encounter people and creatures of myth and face challenges unlike any other. As it turns out, Tristran is not the only one looking for the star. There are others who seek it out for darker purposes.

Stardust is both a love story and a coming of age story. Uncomplicated in his prose, creating a quick and rather lighthearted story smattered with darkness here and there, Neil Gaiman has fashioned an unforgettable fairy tale that will no doubt remain one of my favorites.

Favorite Part: I liked the hairy little man quite a bit. The book doesn’t go into depth about the characters, which works well for the story and the style in which Gaiman wrote the story. Just the same, I would not have minded learning more about some of the mysterious creatures and beings Tristran encounters along the way.

Miscellaneous: Anjin and I are enjoying the second season of The Wire on DVD. The second season is just as good as the first. One of my favorite characters died in an episode we watched today. I knew it was coming, but it still made me sad.

We also saw the movie Hairspray this weekend, the new musical version, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but then, I am a big fan of musicals. It was very uplifting and definitely worth seeing in the theater.

22 comments:

  1. Hey Wendy! I haven't read Neil Gaiman's books yet...but I do have one of his books in my TBR pile. I think the title is Neverwhere. Great review! :)

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  2. I didn't like my Gaiman choice and I don't think I'll attempt another when there are so many other authors I have not read, however, I'm glad you liked this one.

    Hairspray is on our To-Do List. Glad to hear another positive review of it. :)

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  3. Curious if this would be suitable for a 10 year old. She's been curious about the movie, but I'd like to take a look at the book first.

    If you're just into the second season of The Wire, you're in for a huge treat in the next two seasons...I found the second season to be the weakest of all. The third is just explosive, and the fourth amazing. Waiting anxiously for the fall, which I believe is when the fifth season actually airs...

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  4. I saw the trailer for the movie last night and it definately got my attention. I might have to check it (and the book) out.

    My daughter and I want to go see Hairspray. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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  5. Melody - I have heard that Neverwhere is a good place to start when reading your first Neil Gaiman book. I hope you will enjoy it! I've got it somewhere on my shelves to read eventually. :-)

    Joy - Stardust is supposedly very different from most of what he's written, but I understand your lack of interest in trying him again after not liking the book you tried. As you said, there are so many authors and books out there to read . . .

    Karen - I have my doubts about the book itself being suitable for a ten year old, but as a parent of a child that age, you would be the better judge of that. There are a few scenes in the book that would give me pause over letting a ten year old read the book (not that you were planning to do that). It will be interesting to see how the movie plays out.

    I've noticed from the movie trailer that there are added scenes that weren't in the book as well as liberties taken with the story--probably to boost the excitement level and the ratings. I'm afraid I don't know what age group is being targeted for the film.

    Oh! I'm so glad to hear that The Wire just keeps getting better and better. So many TV shows start petering out before too long. Or maybe it's just me losing interest.

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  6. Daphne - It does look good, doesn't it? I'm looking forward to seeing it.

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  7. For some odd reason, I'm always slow to start a Neil Gaiman book. Even though I enjoyed American Gods and LOVED Coraline, I still haven't read Stardust despite the fact that I've had my eye on it for years and years. The movie has set me in motion a bit more, and your review is certainly a push!

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  8. I'm so glad you liked this one!! I just loved it. So simple and beautiful! Then again, I'm a sucker for a good fairy tale! I can't wait to see the movie!!

    My daughters went to see Hairspray last weekend with their grandma. They said I HAVE to go! Then again, my 7-year-old has a MAJOR crush of Zak Ephron!! Glad you liked it!

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  9. I have only read Coraline by Neil Gaiman which I loved. Your review of Stardust (and the coming release of the movie) are putting it at the top of my list for what to read next by him.

    I can't wait to see Hairspray! I am hoping to go this weekend.

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  10. Andi - I hope you are able to get to it before the movie!

    Stephanie - Yes! It was beautiful. I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. :-)

    I can see why your seven year old has a crush on Zak Ephron. He may be too young for you and me, but I can see the appeal. :-)

    Jennyellen - I should probably look into Coraline since a couple of you have said you enjoyed that one so much. :-)

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  11. Ah, I found Stardust this weekend putting my books back, I've got to read it soon.

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  12. I really want to read this one. I've heard great things and I'm always looking for something different.

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  13. Carrie - Try and read it before the movie. ;-) I hope you will enjoy it.

    Kristy - I hope you will decide to read it.

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  14. I'm very glad to hear you like it :) And yes, his storytelling voice changes a lot from book to book - he always writes in a tone that is very appropriate to the story. I really admire his versatility!

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  15. I am looking forward to reading this (hopefully before the film comes out but not sure I have the time). It's looks like a really beautiful and magical book.

    I am thinking about seeing Hairspray at the cinema, but not sure it's my thing.

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  16. It really is so good; I hope you understand why I said in my post that you really want to read the book before you see the movie. You really want to experience the original voice of the author before you deal with some one else's visualization of the work.

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  17. Okay, maybe the movie will motivate me. I've got a copy of this book, but I keep picking it up and putting it back down.

    Where did your review of February Flowers go? I finished, this morning. The setting was the most fascinating thing about it, IMHO. I really didn't like the writing at all; I found it kind of clunky and the characters annoying. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have ever managed to read the book, had it not been an ARC.

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  18. Nymeth - That is an admirable talent. I'm very much looking forward to reading more by him. :-)

    Rhinoa - It was a tight squeeze, fitting it in, but I have to say I'm glad I did. I haven't seen the movie yet, of course, but I do like to read the book first if I can help it.

    I'm discovering that more often than not those of us who really like musicals enjoyed the movie Hairspray a lot more than people who could give or take 'em.

    Jill - Yes, I definitely can understand why you recommended reading the book first. I try and do that anyway, but with this one I think I'm going to be extra glad I read it first once I see the movie. Having seen the trailers for the movie though, Michelle Pfieffer was already in character.

    Nancy - I think my review fell off the main page. It's still around somewhere. Here's a link to the review.

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  19. Thanks for the link to your February Flowers review! I wrote up a review for the publisher, but haven't done so at my blog. Yours is so good. I didn't really like either of the protagonists, although I agree that Ming was easier to relate to because of her love of books. Even she seemed a bit stiff and odd to me, though. Not a favorite book, by any means. I'm glad I didn't get a pretty copy!

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  20. When I first finished the book I wasn't sure if I liked it or not, but after I gave it some thought, I decided I did, but as you said, it isn't my favorite by any stretch.

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  21. I really enjoyed this book. It was my first Gaiman book so I promptly read another, "Good Omens" which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett. It's completely different and very funny. I have "Neverwhere" and "Coraline" on my list but can't quite bring my self to add "American Gods." Great reveiw.

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  22. Hi, Framed! Is Good Omens part of the Discworld series? I can't remember. I have a copy of Neverwhere on my shelf too. And a friend is sending me her copy of Coraline. I hear they are both very good. :-)

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