Posted by: Natalie | September 2, 2010

A tale of disappointment. With witches.

Today Plinky asks me to detail a book that disappointed. I am aware that this will probably meet with some disapproval from certain booky types, but I can’t help it. For me, Stardust by Neil Gaiman just didn’t deliver.

It would be unfair to say I disliked this book, just a little let down. It is quite a while since I read this pretty ‘fairytale’ and I suspect it may improve upon re-reading, but I am not sure I will ever get there.

Before I continue, I would like to point out that I have not seen the film, nor am I likely to as that would defeat the object of the book. It is not a book designed for children and that is one of the things I really liked about it – a child-like tale written for adults only! Not enough authors latch onto this perfect corner of the market (if only I could be inspired in that direction).

And, I really enjoyed the story – right up until the end. I thought Gaiman painted a sumptuous landscape with rich and intriguing characters. I thought the tale was simple yet beautiful and it really swept me up, for the most part. But my lasting memory shall always be the anticlimax at the end.

So much time and patience and love was poured into the main story but I felt as if Gaiman had just got bored by the end. It felt rushed and impatient and empty, which just did not correspond with the rest of the story. Gaiman had entranced me almost like a magical sprite himself, with his lyrical prose throughout and then suddenly it stopped. It was almost as if a child had ended the tale with something akin to, ‘and they all went home for tea’ or ‘then they woke up and it was all a dream’.

I have spent hours upon hours trying to beat this habit out of child writers (not actually beating them obviously, that would be wrong) when here comes a popular author who gives me the same spine tingling cringe. Books like this I almost find more distressing than books I never like from the start – at least with those the tone is already set. With Stardust it was as if someone had given me the keys to the sweetshop then changed the lock at the last minute.

However, it will not deter me from trying more Gaiman in the future. I know plenty of people who adore this book and I know he is a talented writer. But if he is to disappoint like this again, I may be sending him my Literacy lessons!

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  1. When I was first on Twitter I quit it because I got so fed up of Neil Gaiman’s tweets. I don’t follow him any more. I loved Stardust when I was a teenager, but it hasn’t held up as an adult and it’s a shame, because I love so much of his writing. I’d suggest giving Neverwhere a go next, it really is fantastic!

    • Yes, he is a little prolific at tweeting!! Thanks Roisin, I shall add that one to the metaphorical pile! Steve just bought the book he wrote with Pratchett, so once I have entered into disk world, I’ll give that one a whirl too.

      Hope you are well my dear – thanks for the comment!

      Nat x

      • Good Omens? Ok, that one is brilliant! I’m not a huge Pratchett fan – he’s readable but I don’t ADORE his writing. But Good Omens had me laughing out loud AND hanging on every word. Great stuff!

      • Thats the one! Our house is so full of Pratchett that I am starting to feel a little guilty that I haven’t read any . . . *plans to rectify but puzzles over when*

        I will definitely be giving him another try because I did really enjoy his writing style – I could get completely lost in his words. It was literally those last few pages. Maybe I could tear them out and read again!

        Cheers honey,

        Nat x

  2. Agree with Roisin – Neverwhere is great, and my most recent Gaiman read (I’d loan it but I left it on a bus – on purpose, I should add!) But my favourite is still to this day American Gods. I couldn’t get over the very adult fairytale he wove in that one!

    I liked Stardust a lot – didn’t LOVE it, but enjoyed it. So do give Gaiman another try!

  3. Yeah, I agree with you. I was disappointed by both the film and the book, and I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan!

    I agree with Cie though – American Gods was awesome. Definitely up in my list of favourite books, and one of the few books Cie and I actually share a love of!

  4. I love Neil Gaiman, but this one is not my fave book, no.

  5. Oh dear, I feel very lame as I really liked the film! I’m a total sucker for that sort of thing though, and Danes looks HOT. I confess I haven’t read the book, even though Nathan owns alot of Gaiman stuff – still all boxed up though, irritatingly, I do miss my books.

    He has *everything* by Pratchett too, but I have no desire to read a bean of any of it, not entirely sure why though.

  6. I’ve not read the book but have seen the movie. I wish I had realised it was a book because I love the child-like writing aimed at adults genre. Probably why I like Discworld.

    I loved the movie for the very reason that it was child-like but aimed at adults.

    I love the way that you have chosen to write about why you didn’t like the book. It’s very fair … something that can be so difficult to achieve (I certainly don’t think I could do it). I think I will learn something from your post.

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