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Exceptionally Odd November 16, 2009

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Books, Reviews.
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Hot on the heels of the Newberry award-winning The Graveyard Book comes Neil Gaiman’s latest, Odd and the Frost Giants.

It’s another children’s book from the celebrated author, this time rooted in Norse mythology. Here we meet Odd, a rather unusual boy that serendipitously comes to the aid of Odin, Thor and Loki. Trapped in the form of an eagle, bear and fox, respectively, these gods have been banished to Midgard (earth) by a Frost Giant who has stolen Thor’s hammer and managed to wrest away from them control of Asgard, the city of the gods. So begins Odd’s journey to aid the gods in their quest to defeat the Frost Giant and save the world from an eternal winter.

While aimed at younger readers, Odd and the Frost Giants has much of the charm typical of Gaiman’s work that will appeal to a broader audience. It also demonstrates how Gaiman has further refined his talent for crafting fable- and fairytale-like stories. Compared to his other recent work aimed at a younger readership, such as Coraline and the aforementioned Graveyard Book, Odd and the Frost Giants has a much simpler, streamlined, and thereby more efficient storytelling dynamic. Overall, the tale is told in a compact fashion without meandering too much to develop an overly rich backstory or setting, a quality most suited for the target audience to whom the book is directed.

The only drawback to this finely crafted tale is the cost: ponying up around fifteen dollars for a short story of about 120 pages might seem a bit much. But sometimes that’s the price to be paid for a good yarn, which for the work Neil Gaiman does is almost always well worth it regardless of the price.

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