So I finally finished one book on the Once Upon a Time Challenge – at this rate, I’ll finish this challenge when Carl starts next year’s round.
I’m taking a great risk here to be honest about my feelings about this book because I know so many of you are Neil Gaiman fanatics. And let me couch this review with the statement that I, not knowing that this book existed, saw the film version last year and really liked it. So keep all of this in mind as you read on. (And if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie – do so – but don’t read this review as I’m not sure I can avoid giving stuff away).
So to recap for most of you, Stardust is the story of Tristan Thorn, a man half of this world and half of the world of Faerie, who goes on a quest to capture a fallen star as a gift for his “true love.” In the process of this journey, he meets exciting folks who help and hinder him, as any true hero does, and he of course falls in love with the star, Yvaine, and gives over his love for the other girl.
And I love this story – perhaps because it’s timeless – the quest, the love, the helpers, the enemies – it reads like Propp’s morphology says it should – a quintessential fairy tale. I am particularly fond of Tristan, and I loved the princes. And the little furry guy that helps Tristan – he’s a hit.
But I didn’t feel like the story was fully-developed. I kept thinking that I didn’t know people well enough yet – like Yvaine – I wanted to hear more about her . . . to understand her more. Perhaps this perceived lack is because I saw the film first – something I never do for any book adaptation – and because the cast in the film was so amazing. Claire Danes is one of my favorite actresses, so her Yvaine beat out anything I could imagine from Gaiman’s words. And in the book, I did miss seeing more of the trip on the Perdita. In the film, Robert DeNiro is so delightful as the cross-dressing captain that I couldn’t get over that this part of Tristan’s voyage was so simple, so fundamental but unembellished.
In some places, however, the book does beat out of the movie by miles. For instance, I was so glad that Gaiman hadn’t belabored the witch’s quest as the film did – with a 20 minute fight sequence. I was glad, too, that the princes, as delightful as Rupert Everett is in the film, died of rather quickly.
So in the final evaluation, I think the book is great – very fun and delightful – and hence, that’s why it made such a good film. But I will hold to my practice of reading before watching because sometimes a good film can make a book look flimsy.
Other Reviews – Eva at A Striped Armchair
P.S. The winner of the “Favorites” giveaway is Kerry of So Many Books, So Little Time. Send me your address and your book selection – Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Lamott’s Traveling Mercies, Kidder’s House, or Byatt’s Possession – and I’ll get your book out to you via Powell’s.