Monday, 28 April 2008

‘Odd and the Frost Giants’ – Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury Press)

For someone who loves books as much as I do, I always seem to miss World Book Day when it comes around… As part of the fun, a number of small books are printed which you can either pick up for a pound or get your kids to buy with a book token. I love book tokens but that’s a post for another day…
I was walking back from a meeting when I happened to notice there were still some of these books for sale in a bookshop. Not only that, one of these was Neil Gaiman’s ‘Odd and the Frost Giants’…
I find Neil Gaiman’s books to be a little hit and miss for my tastes (‘Neverwhere’ great, ‘American Gods’ not so great…) but there’s always enough there for me to get my wallet out every time I see a new book of his. Seeing as you can’t go too far wrong on a book that only costs a pound I thought I’d see what ‘Odd and the Frost Giants’ was like…
The story is simple. Odd is a crippled Norse child who runs away and ends up meeting a fox, an eagle and a giant bear. These are no ordinary animals though, they’re Norse Gods who have been exiled from Valhalla by a Frost Giant. The upshot of this is that the world of man is now trapped in a permanent winter and it appears that the only person who can solve this problem is Odd.
‘Odd and the Frost Giants’ is very obviously a book for children. Apart from the fact that it’s only a hundred pages long, the plot is very simplistic and linear. It can be summed up as ‘boy runs away from home, boy meets talking animals, boy saves world…’ Despite this, ‘Odd’ turned out to be a very entertaining (if short) read purely because of the little ‘extras’ that Neil Gaiman adds. While Gaiman can certainly write a children’s book he doesn’t treat his readers like children. While the conclusion may never be in doubt, there’s a grey area to the plot that certainly made me question the motives of certain characters. If Loki is involved then you just know that nothing is as simple as it first appears! It’s this kind of thing that turns a simple children’s story into something a little bit more and I was left wanting to see how this would end (even if I already knew).
If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman then you should pick this up if you get a chance. It’s not the greatest thing he’s ever written (which for my money is ‘Stardust’) but there was plenty there to keep me entertained for half an hour.

Seven out of Ten


Chris, The Book Swede said...

Nice to see a review of this! :) (Not sure why I said that, since I haven't managed to get hold of a copy myself, but Neil said on his blog a while back that he hadn't seen that many reviews of it)!

I'm also yet to read Stardust (yet call myself a Gaiman fan...), but from the very first page which I've read online, I can tell I'm going to like it.

I wasn't that keen on American Gods, either. Brilliant stuff with the mythology, but I much preferred Neverwhere, and am also loving chapter 4 of his new book for young adults. (It's the chapter that keeps appearing in anthologies).


weariedjuggler said...

It would be nice to find books like this selling for only a pound, or a dollar in CA. I am a little jealous.

I have yet to read any Neil Gaiman, but you have me interested. Stardust and Neverwhere were just added to my reading list... Thank you.


Dark Wolf said...

I haven't managed to get this book, but I haven't managed to read "Stardust" either :). I certainly have to read it.