October 17, 2011 § 8 Comments
Stardust tells the story of Tristran Thorn, from the small village of Wall who ventures over border into the land of Faerie in search of a fallen star with which he hopes to win the love of the most beautiful girl for miles around. Things don’t go quite according to plan as Tristran learns that in the land of Faerie, fallen stars aren’t lumps of metal, but people–in this case a young woman–and she’s not too keen on being rushed off as the some boy’s trophy. To complicate things further, Tristran isn’t the only person seeking the fallen star and his competition is rather deadly.
Before getting too far into this I have to say that while Stardust is marketed as a Young Adult fantasy novel, there’s a pretty explicit sex scene in the first chapter and a choice four letter world a little further on. It makes my otherwise enthusiastic recommendation a bit reserved, especially for kids who are more “young” than “adult.”
Gaiman weaves another spectacular tale with Stardust, mixing a sense of wonder with the excitement of adventure and a great sense of humor reminiscent of The Princess Bride. It’s got magic and love and unicorns and talking trees and airships. There is a lot to love here, though the action seemed to peak a little beyond the halfway point, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book it was more of a pleasant stroll than a rollercoaster ride.
Stardust is a good read and fairly easy. I’d especially recommend it to adults who enjoy reading Young Adult, though as I mentioned before, I hesitate to recommend it to kids.
October 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
The Graveyard Book was an interesting read for me because when I was in the Middle Grade age range (about 8-12 years old) I wouldn’t have liked it at all (because it would’ve scared the pants off me). I probably wouldn’t have made it past the first chapter, but that would’ve been a shame. The book begins with the murder of two-year-old Bod’s family. He was supposed to be killed too, but by a stroke of luck he wandered out of the house and up the road to a nearby graveyard. He is taken in and raised by the ghosts that live there as well as a solitary guardian who is neither alive or dead.
The Graveyard Book is a ghost story turned on its head where the ghosts are the benevolent, slightly ridiculous characters in the novel and the little “haunting” that goes on is well-deserved by misbehaving children. The first half of the book covers ten years of Bods life, telling highlights of his strange upbringing in the graveyard. The second half of the book increases the pace and tension (I won’t tell you how) and Gaiman does a brilliant job tying in all the episodes from the first half.
A great read that I would recommend for all but the faint of heart, and a Newbury Award winner to boot.