Saturday, February 7, 2009

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Tristran Thorn believes himself hopelessly in love with Victoria, the most beautiful girl in the village of Wall. He's young and innocent. She's full of herself and a tease. "I'll travel to China and bring you back your weight in gold," he says to her, if she'll only give him a kiss.

She smiles demurely while watching the stars in the night sky, one of which was falling in a bright streak over the horizon. "Bring me back that star and I'll let you."

And thus begins Neil Gaiman's adult fantasy adventure about a boy who travels into the land of Faerie. A place Tristran somehow feels akin to, but doesn't know why. All in search of that requested token, the star, to buy Victoria's affections. Or so he thinks. What he finds there, on the horizon, is something else entirely.

What did I find while reading this book? An entertaining, swash-buckling adventure, with many Grimm brothers, sort of fairy tale undertones. Gaiman's writing is simple and fun, and even though I felt rushed through its second half, I grinned more than once while reading it.

I saw the movie first and loved it. I assumed the book to also be teen fare. It is not. This is an adult fairy tale. There's sex. There's some pretty gruesome violence. Some of which was a bit jarring. I wasn't expecting it, like I wouldn't expect a whimsical version of Cinderella to include a scene with her and the prince "doing it" and her evil stepmother lying in a "pool of her own blood". But with that being said, how many of the original fairy tales were like their purified Disney versions? Ah, very few.

I'm glad I read it, but I'll probably stick with the movie version. In my opinion, it's just a little better. And Robert De Niro dancing in a dress with a faux mole on his cheek? That's just the gravy on the creamy mashed potatoes. Priceless. 3 Stars


Amanda said...

This book is in the YA section of my library, and it's on my reading list for 2009. Strange to find out it's more adult than young adult. I was expecting something like the movie, too. Thanks for the forewarning.

I'm torn as to my feelings about Gaiman. Some part of me really wants to like him, and I enjoyed Coraline, but I really didn't like American Gods. I wonder if Stardust will decide where I stand with him.

L said...

Based on the movie alone, I thought it YA fiction too. I'm curious what other people think. In my opinion the sex scene - a page and a half in length and VERY well described, would probably be more detail than I would want my teen reading. But for me, hey I thought it a-okay.

My son is currently reading The Graveyard Book. I'm assuming since it won the Newberry that it's clearly for teens. But, if he comes up to me after reading it and asks, "What does "thrusting", and "writhing and squealing beneath me" mean mom? We'll then I guess I'll have my answer.

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