On STARDUST by Neil Gaiman

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This month for my book club, I had the dubious privilege of picking our selection. Because I like to call myself a rebel, and I wanted to read something a little different and a little quirky, I picked STARDUST. It’s not a new novel, and it has been made into a strange little movie, and I thought it would be a fun read. It was fun, and surprising at moments, and largely satisfying overall.

STARDUST is a fairy tale for adults. Because of language, thematic elements, and the general tone of the book, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone younger than 16. Of course, this is coming from the same person who doesn’t think people should read Harry Potter books if they are younger than the characters in the books. So take that as you will. Still, there is a certain dark abstract feel to the story that I don’t think younger readers would find very appealing. And if you’re one of those “save the unicorns” types, you might want to think twice about picking up this book.

The premise of the story is what happens when you get your heart’s desire – whether or not you realize at the time what that is. It starts out with a young man named Dunstan Thorne – not to be confused with the main hero of the tale, who turns out to be Dunstan’s son, Tristran. Tristran sets off on a quest to retrieve a fallen star for his true love, and learns along the way that he has greatly misjudged the nature of stars (in the land of Faerie, at least) and of true love itself. There are villains, and helpful companions, and magic, and all the things that make a delightful fairy tale, including some moderately graphic details and a bittersweet ending.

The book has some faults. I found the style to be quaint and charming, but the modern writer in my head was counting off all the rules that the author broke in the telling of it. However, I don’t mind a few broken rules on the way to a good story, so this wasn’t a problem for me. It gets a little confusing at times, there are lost of strands that seem disconnected from the main story at first, but then Gaiman ties them all together so brilliantly that I was completely satisfied by the end.

Immediately after finishing the book, I made the mistake of mentioning that I might like to watch the movie sometime, so we ended up watching it that night. Do not watch the movie before reading the book. It will ruin all those abstract connections and the feeling of satisfaction when they all come together. That said, the movie isn’t terrible, and it follows the plot of the book for the most part, with some obvious license, until the ending, which is all completely made up by the filmmakers for additional drama.

So, if you’re an adult, or you think like an adult, or maybe if you think like a child but people think you’re an adult, and you enjoy fairy tales, I think you’ll like this book. I did, and I definitely fall into one of those three categories. I’ll let you guess which one.

Have you read STARDUST? Do you have any comments you’d like to add? Or any recommendations for what I should read next?



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