Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

I don't remember how I came across Stardust, but I know I was attracted first to the movie, then to the book.  I am notorious for picking up random "B" movies from the local movie rental establishment, especially bad sci-fi/fantasy.  I don't even remember this movie coming out in theaters in 2007.  Either way, it was a random pick off the wall for a movie rental sometime last year.  I immediately loved it.
In the tranquil fields and meadows of long-ago England, there is a small hamlet that has stood on a jut of granite for 600 years. Just to the east stands a high stone wall, for which the village is named. Here, in the hamlet of Wall, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester. And here, one crisp October eve, Tristran makes his love a promise -- an impetuous vow that will send him through the only breach in the wall, across the pasture... and into the most exhilarating adventure of his life.  - from
The movie was great. Great story with adventure, excitement, and a melt-your-heart love story.  Great cast including Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, I adore Claire Danes, and I think that's what attracted me to this movie first. (I absolutely adored Stage Beauty.) The male lead Charlie Cox also did a great job.  As soon as I saw the DVD in the previewed pile for less than ten bucks (my requirements for adding movies to my already ridiculous collection), it was mine.

After that, I discovered Neil Gaiman as an author.  I read Neverwhere last fall, which I picked up because the cover cited Stardust.  It is only now that I managed to finish Stardust the novel, and it is even better than the movie. 

The ending is different than that of the movie, which I understand why the movie people changed it for a more dramatic culminating point.  I loved the sword fight scene at the end of the movie, but the real ending has so much more finesse.  It's so subtle, you don't even see it coming, but it doesn't hit you like a slap in the face, more like a brand-new pillow cased in Egyptian cotton.  It lets you know that all is right with the world, there are unseen forces pulling strings behind the scenes, but the good guys get rewarded in the end.

His style is different than what I remembered about Neverwhere.  In this book, his voice is fairly whimsical, mainly accomplished through asides about miscellaneous creatures in the land of Faerie.  He uses third omniscient to jump between characters, and it is amazing how much you can tell about a person without having to know their thoughts.  As a novice writer, after reading this I realize much I rely on being able to know the character's thoughts in order to advance a story.

I highly recommend the movie, but even more so the book.  Your life will be enriched by it.


Amanda said...

The way you describe the endings is exactly how I felt! I loved that he took this story and didn't make it end with a huge climactic scene. I liked the movie, but fell completely in love with the book when I read it about a year afterwards. I'd read two other Gaiman novels before that: Coraline, which I liked a lot but not as much as Stardust, and American Gods, which I hated. I'm still cautious about Gaiman after the AG experience, but I did love The Graveyard Book and hope to read something else by him soon.