Monday, June 21, 2010

Odd and the Frost Giants - Neil Gaiman

Summary: In a village in ancient Norway lives a boy named Odd, and he's had some very bad luck: His father perished in a Viking expedition; a tree fell on and shattered his leg; the endless freezing weather is making villagers dangerously grumpy.

Out in the forest Odd encounters a bear, a fox, and an eagle--three creatures with a strange story to tell. Now Odd is forced on a stranger journey than he had imagined--a journey to save Asgard, city of the gods, from the Frost Giants who have invaded it.

It's going to take a very special kind of twelve-year-old boy to outwit the Frost Giants, restore peace to the city of gods, and end the long winter. Someone cheerful and infuriating and clever…

Someone just like Odd… (Summary from book - cover image courtesy of harpercollinschildrens.com)

My Review: I read this book to my four-year-old son. His review was "Dada, I love Odd and the Frost Giants because it's one of my favorites." While he says that about everything, and I'm not sure he understood more than a fraction of the book, I have to agree with his assessment. Charming, inventive, and perfectly pitched for its intended audience (probably closer to eight years old than to four), this is one of the better children's books I've read.

A particular strength is Gaiman's well-practiced ability to convey clear and compelling images of characters, scenes, even moods in a few well-chosen words, woven into an apparently effortless skein of themes and events that leaves no loose ends yet somehow manages to avoid seeming contrived. I was also impressed by the way this story presented the bloody, grim world of Norse mythology in a way that was reasonably true to the legends and yet neither patronizing nor nightmare-inducing--a not-insignificant feat of tact.

I have only two complaints with this book. First, I felt as if it could have been a bit longer without disrupting the balance of the story; both my son and I would have enjoyed another chapter or two. Second, there was no mention of Ragnarok. Even if this is a kid's book, the ship made from dead men's fingernails is too good an image to pass up. (Ok, maybe I'm stretching on that one, but I had to come up with something to complain about.)

Star Rating: 4 Stars

Sum it up: American Gods in miniature, and with less angst.

3 comments:

c jane said...

I am Norwegian and I am odd so perhaps I will like this book.

p.s. This blog is fantastic! Thanks for linking me to it Mindy!

MindySue said...

Ack! I sat stunned at my computer this morning when I saw we got a comment from c jane. I hope you'll pardon me if I thought, for just one second, "We've made it."

author Scott Nicholson said...

Neil Gaiman is consistently excellenet!

Scott Nicholson
http://www.hauntedcomputer.com

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