Saturday, August 25, 2007

Stardust, Neil Gaiman

Title: Stardust
Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: 2001, HarperCollins
Category: Fantasy
Rating: 8/10

I have been meaning to read this book ever since Smart Bitch Candy went squee-crazy over it a couple months ago. Then the movie came out, which I really wanted to see, but it's just wrong to watch a movie before reading the book it's based on, so I finally got my ass in gear.

Tristran Thorn is a slightly goofy young man living in the town of Wall, in Victorian England. He has a serious case of puppy love for the town beauty, Victoria Forrester. In an effort to convince her to marry him, Tristran promises to cross the wall (the mysterious border between our world and the world of Faerie) and bring Victoria back a fallen star. He sets out to do so and soon finds the fallen star, which he is surprised to discover is a young woman named Yvaine. Trouble is, Tristran isn't the only one after the star. A trio of witches, some princes, and assorted other magical beings are also after her for various, mostly nefarious, reasons.

When I start a fantasy novel I expect it to be three things: a bit dense, fairly complicated, and very, very long. I know that this doesn't apply to every book in the genre (and I don't read a ton of fantasy), but it is what I generally expect. Stardust is none of these things. It is airy and whimsical; not insubstantial---we see Tristran's quest change him from an awkward boy into a confident man---but there are none of the complicated rules of the alternate reality that fantasy books often have. I felt like I just floated through the book, the world created in seeming haphazard fashion, but coming together to magical perfection in the end. It is just charming and winsome, and really very funny.

In the acknowledgments Gaiman calls it a fairy story for adults. And I think that about sums it up. :)

Now about the movie. Because, yes, I did see it. And I really loved it. They added tons of action scenes, some of the subtlety is naturally lost, and the ending is slightly Disney-fied, but I think it still captured the tone of the book well.

And look at Charlie Cox. Ack! Adorable!


meljean brook said...

I love love this book -- and I'll (finally) be seeing the movie this week. I can't wait; it feels like I've been looking forward to it forever.

Marg said...

Charlie Cox was on one of the morning shows over here last week. He's cut his hair a bit but he still looked really good and he seemed like a fun guy!

Jennie said...

Meljean--I hope you like the movie! They added all sorts of stuff (lots about the air pirates, for example), but I thought it was great. Even Clare Danes (sp?), who usually annoys me, is pretty good. Her voice is less grating when she's putting on an English accent. ;)

Marg--I'm a bit in love with Charlie Cox. I liked him in Casanova too. He actually starts off Stardust with this dorky haircut and then gets a makeover halfway through the movie. Hummm! He's delicious. ;)

Alison said...

Hey Jennie! I didn;t read this book but I wanted to say hi! It's Alison :) I see your doing well! We miss you in NY! email me at work and say hi! :)

Li said...

Stardust is in my TBR pile - my sister adored it, but I still haven't managed to get past the first couple of chapters.

Not sure why - I've liked what I've read so far, but I think I'm just not in the right mood for it. I've to read it v soon though, because I want to watch the movie (and I'm anal about reading the book before watching the movie!).

Jennie said...

Alison! I just emailed you, but now I'm worried that it's going to get caught in the spam filter. Damn the Postini!

Li--I always want to read books first before seeing the movies too. Usually the books are better, but I have to say that in this case, the movie was pretty damn good. Maybe as good as the book. I'm thinking of going to see it again before it leaves the theaters here. :)

raspberry swyrl said...

Loved the book, loved the movie (but perferred the books ending) and love the author.

Better then most of this summers 'blockbusters'