Stardust by Neil Gaiman

June 13, 2005 at 12:00 am | Posted in 3 stars, Book Reviews, Fantasy | Leave a comment
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I had to think long and hard about rating Stardust. Generally I feel like a book that succeeds in everything it sets out to do should get 4 stars. But I can’t shake the feeling that Gaiman sets the degree of difficulty far too low here. Stardust is a nice fairy tale, and I believe that’s exactly what he wanted to write. The book is completely devoid of anything beyond the superficiality that one associates with fairy tales. It’s practically a stereotype. Of course, such eminences as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are famous for defending fairy tales, but their precepts for good stories are not followed. Even if you don’t agree with their arguments, I don’t think too many people who are interested in most of the books I review on this site would find much to appreciate in Stardust except perhaps as something to read to their children (and maybe not even that, since while the novel is juvenile in style it has some scenes clearly intended for adults). For a good adult version of a fairy tale, people are better served with Gaiman’s own Neverwhere.

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Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

May 16, 2004 at 12:00 am | Posted in 3 stars, Book Reviews, Fantasy | Leave a comment
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This is probably the most acclaimed humor novel in science fiction and fantasy that does not have the word “Hitchhiker” in the title. Despite knowing this I only got around to reading this recently, in part because Pratchett, unlike Adams, for me was only polite-smile funny for the most part in the few books of his I’ve read. This was not really an exception. Like any comedy there were hits and misses, but for me the real failing was the long stretches in the second half where it didn’t seem to be trying to be funny at all. Perhaps that was Gaiman’s influence. Whatever the cause, when it started taking itself seriously it was pretty much a write-off for me since I was not at all interested in the plot or the characters. As I said, however, this book has a large contingent of people who absolutely love it, so it’s certainly worth a try, especially if you are a Pratchett fan.

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