Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd is a twelve year old boy with a rough life. His father died in a Viking raid; his mother married a man that he hates; he shatter his leg when cutting down a tree; and the people who live in his village constantly ridicule and abuse him. So, in the spring, which actually is a supernaturally extended winter, Odd sets out with some food to his father's cabin to live by himself. He encounters a fox who guides him to a bear, who was seeking honey, trapped with its arm in a tree. Odd frees the bear and discovers that these animals (plus an eagle) can talk. They are actually gods that were duped into these forms by the Frost Giants that have taken over Asgard. The bear is Thor, the one-eyed eagle is Odin, and the fox is Loki. Can Odd get Asgard and if he gets there, can he do anything to help the gods reclaim their home?

Odd and the Frost Giants is a very short, but interesting read. I think of it like Neil Gaiman-light for younger readers. Odd is the lowest of the low in his village. He is constantly ridiculed and is viewed as practically useless because of his handicap, but he takes everything in stride with a smile. This clever and good natured hero is also seen in fairy tales where he solves his problems in unorthodox ways despite being low in the dominance hierarchy. I like that real life problems mix with fantastical ones, like the loss of his parent and the abuse from his stepfather. Anyone can relate to Odd because, whether they are old or young, the reader may have experienced similar misfortunes. The story basically follows Joseph Campbell's hero journey, which I love. This formula is used in many myths throughout history, including The Odyssey and Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth. This form, coupled with the Norse mythological figures, makes the literature nerd in me very happy.

I love Neil Gaiman's style of writing. He writes in seemingly simplistic sentences, but it's full of wit and humor that is instilled in all of his writing. The illustrations by Brett Helquist accompanied the story very well with his own unique style that I grew to love in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. I really liked the story, but I felt it was more like a short story than a novel. I would love to read more of Odd's adventures. Although Odd and the Frost Giants isn't my favorite book, I would still urge both children and adults to read it.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Here is the book trailer:

1 comment:

Sullivan McPig said...

Hmmm, I might give this a try