I have to admit that I can’t really be objective about this one because I love the film so much! So, I will start by crediting Neil Gaiman as 90% of the film’s genius was initially written by him, in this novel. However, I have to say, if I didn’t love the movie, I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book at all. The obvious distinction is that the film was made for children, and the book was written for an adult audience. Therefore the novel is invariably darker, more complex in its themes and with some graphic sex scenes. For me, yes I could have cut out all of the above and possibly enjoyed it 10x more. Still, it’s more than that: the ending was rather depressing, there were characters (that didn’t appear in the film version) who seemed to be influential but were then left by the wayside, their stories unexplained, and don’t get me started on the portrayal of the female characters in this book (at best they were gloomy and sorrowful at worst they were demonic, evil, murderous maniacs, with a whole host of the standard jealous, bossy and petty in between). Neil Gaiman’s writing style is fun and clearly eminently creative; however, I did find it a little bit scatty and challenging to follow at times.
On this occasion, reading the novel adaptation of one of my favourite films has, for me, affirmed why I’m first and foremost drawn to writing for children (young adults). I can take or leave all the dark and dirty stuff, I like things to be fully explored and neatly tied up with a bow at the end, and I love a happy ending (sorry but I just do!). Therefore, I’m aware that part of my dislike for this book reflects my disappointment in the lack of happy, fluffy stuff prevalent in the film. However, the longer I think about it, the more frustrated I am at the lengths this was taken too. I genuinely feel that much of the grizzly stuff added nothing to the story. In my opinion, it was merely there to make it “more adult”. The same can be said with regards to the strange abandonment of seemingly influential characters. I can only assume that this decision was made to add an air of mystery beyond the story’s childish fairy-tale elements. I just found it frustrating. And there is absolutely no excuse for writing a book without a single female character who is not wholly abhorrent. There just isn’t. Especially when the story includes an abundance of kind and relatable men.
I would say that I won’t be rushing back to read more of Neil Gaiman’s work, but ‘American Gods’ is also on my 30 before 30 reading list. I guess he’ll get one more chance to win me over, and this time arguably with a more level playing field.
Let me know what you thought of Stardust (Film or Novel or both) below!