Thursday, October 20, 2005

American Gods and More

Three brief reviews of books by Neil Gaiman.

American Gods: Mixed feelings on this one. Overall, I enjoyed it. There was a lot of fun in this book, plus a few very moving or scary scenes. But (there's always a but) I'm not as thrilled with Gaiman as some seem to be. I do not, for example, understand why people can rave so much aboug Gaiman while ignoring somebody like Tim Powers. Both explore similar themes, threads and ideas, but Gaiman (in my humble opinion) barely can carry Powers' pencil case. Hype? Am I missing something?

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish: Hey, it's a short kids book...what are you doing reviewing it and listing it? True, but I bought it on the strength of Coraline, which I read last year. It's an amusing tale of a kid who loses his dad in a trade. Young Miss Laura gives it two thumbs up, and I agree.

Neverwhere: I tried reading this a few years ago, without success. It seemed a pale imitation of Tim Powers (yes, I know I keep harping on that...but I wonder why there is so much praise heaped on Gaiman when there are numerous other practising fantasy writers of equal or greater ability...such as Tim Powers). Anyway, given that I read American Gods, I gave Neverwhere another chance. I got through it, and enjoyed it, but felt that it felt more like a novelization of a movie (or television series) than an independently developed novel. I know that it was a BBC series, but I don't know which came first. Of course, if I ever make it to London and take the "tube", I'll certainly eye various stops with more interest. The tale alternates between our world and a shadow world and follows the adventures of a man who steps between the two worlds. He gets caught up in a major conflict between various factions of the shadow world. Lots of atmosphere, some interesting mythology, some interesting characters.

I'll continue to follow Gaiman as an author and see where he takes us as he matures.