Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thoughts on Stardust

Wow, that post title sounds really profound, doesn't it? Let me disabuse you of this notion of profundity. I intend merely to expound upon my reading experience of Neil Gaiman's Stardust (in unintentionally highfallutin' vocabulary) because it has been so long since I've read it, at this point, that a legitimate review seems near to impossible.

For one, I have the feeling that Stardust defies a plot synopsis. It's a fairytale. There are a lot of ins and outs that probably won't make sense until you peruse the pages. Boy has one night stand with girl in Faerie world which happens to be just across the way (or the wall if we want to be perfectly clear). Union results in son. Son, not knowing his true origins, sets out for the land of Faerie to retrieve a fallen star for his one true love, so that she will marry him or at least maybe give him the time of day. Hapless hero soon discovers, amid numerous action-packed side stories of brothers fighting to the death for their right to rule and witches trying to replenish their beauty and immortality, that, oh yeah, maybe his one true love is not his actual one true love, and his actual one true love is, well, someone rather unlikely. I think you get my drift. It's a fairy tale! To say too much would spoil its magic, so enough with this plot synopsis stuff!

We talk of the kings and queens of Faerie as we would speak of the kings and queens of England. But Faerie is bigger than England, as it is bigger than the world (for, since the dawn of tme, each land that has been forced off the map by explorers and the brave going out and proving it wasn't there has taken refuge in Faerie; so it is by now, by the time that we come to write of it, a most huge place indeed, containing every manner of landscape and terrain). Here, truly, there be Dragons.

This is a great story. So great in fact that somebody made a movie out of it, not that great stories are necessarily required for some dingbat to try to make a movie out of a book, but I digress. And the movie Stardust? Well, I saw it first, and I wish I hadn't. If I had read this book before seeing the movie I probably would have loved it. Having seen the movie, which is not completely true to the book but not too untrue to it either, kind of wrecked the book for me. It was like watching an episode of one of your favorite TV shows, but it's a re-run. I enjoyed it, but already having an idea of what was going to happen kind of took away from the experience. It seems like this feeling, also, exempts me from being able to write a legitimate review of Stardust as well.

There's no doubt that Gaiman really created a great story here, though, a story that works equally well, if you ask me, in the book and on screen. I loved the movie, and most of that can be chalked up to Gaiman's vivid and imaginative storytelling. And it's a fairy tale! That somebody wrote recently! For grown-ups! Even the thought of it is rather delightful!

Now for some really, utterly random thoughts that will only make sense to those who have read the book and/or seen the movie:

I liked how in the movie, the dead brothers were funny, but I also liked how, in the book, each time the dead brothers spoke, it was likened to some passing sound - the rustle of a curtain, the breeze blowing through the bushes, etc.

I missed the we'll say "more interesting" aspects of the Captain's character as played by Robert De Niro in the movie.

I also kind of enjoyed the juiced up movie ending, with the thing and the thing and the drama and the action, and the other thing that happened, all of which I can hardly even allude to for fear of the inevitable spoiler. Well, actually maybe it was a bit too Terminator, and the book's somewhat softer, gentler arrival is actually preferable. I can't decide.

I have, however, decided that I would like movie Stardust for Christmas, and that book Stardust can't unseat Neverwhere as my favorite Gaiman.

If you happen to be looking for an actual review, I might recommend...

Becky's Book Reviews
The Bluestocking Society
Trish's Reading Nook
Musings of a Bookish Kitty

And you? How about you? Have you read Stardust or watched it? Or both? What did you think? How does the movie compare for you, if you've seen it? Will you buy it for me for Christmas?


  1. I'd seen the movie before I read the book, but it had been a year and I'd watched it on an overnight plane trip overseas, so I didn't remember it too well. I really enjoyed the book.

  2. I own both, and have not yet delved into either. Aren't I pathetic?!! But I refuse to watch the movie until I've read the book. And gosh darnit, I can't seem to get around to reading the book. *sigh*

  3. I bet this is good! I've only read one of Gaiman's books and I loved it. I've got one more in my TBR pile.

  4. I loved them both, book and movie. I read the book, after the movie, during a seven hour lay over at an airport last year. Fun memories!

    Hey, maybe I should put the movie on my wish list for Christmas too!

  5. I reviewed the book earlier this year.

    I really liked it. I read Neverwhere later this year and I agree, I liked it better, but they are so different I'm not sure I'm making a fair comparison.

    I watched the movie more recently, and didn't really like it much. I actually found the ending a bit too dramatic in comparison to the book. I liked that the book was kind of just a more quiet ending- not too much drama. It was nice :-)

  6. Adored the book, couldn't stand the movie, especially DeNiro's character - ick.

  7. It's not often that I prefer a movie to a book but I did in this case. I watched the movie numerous times. only read the book once.