Odd and the Frost Giants (Neil Gaiman)

I decided to start 2010 off easy, with a quick read (completed the entire book in one sitting). Odd and the Frost Giants is another of Neil Gaiman's novels for young adults, and it's an excellent little book, a fantasy set in Norse mythology about a boy named Odd who helps Odin, Thor, and Loki retake Asgard after they have been ousted by a frost giant.

I come to Gaiman's work through Sandman and his other graphic novels, and his outstanding Coraline. If you've only seen the movie, the book Coraline has a much more stripped-down plot — it takes less time for Gaiman to get the real story rolling than it does in the movie, there are less characters, etc. Odd and the Frost Giants is similarly stripped down. Like Coraline, it reads less like a typical novel and more like a fairy tale. The action is limited and the climax is brief. There are no epic battles. Talking animal characters don't just bounce around making silly jokes.

In other words, it's a book, not a movie. In an age when so many books read like movies, it's refreshing to see Gaiman still writing books and not movie treatments disguised as books.

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Jonathan Ball is a writer, filmmaker, and scholar living at www.jonathanball.com.

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