Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Inspired by Marvel’s Thor franchise as well as the upcoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Gaiman’s book really took hold of my interest, as I could not help but pick it up.  In Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman re-paints the pictures of ancient Norse mythos to the modern eye, while still keeping true to its roots.  It begins with the legend of creation of the nine worlds, or realms, as also described in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There are dwarves and giants, gods and goddesses, and a small section about the mortals living on Earth.  Two topics most compared were, however, the god of thunder and the god of trickery.

Thor and Loki are considered brothers, despite their first introductions: Thor was the son of Odin, and Loki was the son of giants.  There were no definitions of the type of these giants, so the MCU may have created their own story to describe Loki’s past.  Moving past their beginnings, Gaiman takes the reader through an abbreviated retelling of the gods of Asgard and their troubles, especially with Loki.  However, the author kept true to the end, rather called Ragnarok, as the myth goes.

Norse Mythology was quite telling and insightful, as I was able to experience epiphanies, as holes in the myths were filled.  Also an author of comics, intelligent children’s books, and intricate novels of the history of divinity, Neil Gaiman definitely made these myths into a worthwhile story.  Fans of newly-popularized Game of Thrones, as well as the age-old Lord of the Rings, will definitely enjoy this light read for its crossover themes.  Five stars for Gaiman’s Norse Mythology!

Maya S.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Book Review: Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

good_omens_coverGood Omens is a funny, original book written by British authors Neil Gaiman (Stardust, American Gods) and Terry Pratchett (the Discworld series). It is time for Heaven and Hell to destroy the world in the Biblical apocalypse, and for Adam Young, a normal preteen in a quiet English town, to realize his destiny as the Antichrist. But Crowley and Aziraphale, a demon and angel who have been working on Earth and become friends over six hundred years, decide to defy their respective superiors and save humanity. Meanwhile, the Four Horsepeople of the Apocalypse form a team to trigger the End of Days.

The major strength of this book is its humor, with running gags, half-page-long footnotes, and sarcastic tangents about random aspects of humanity. Aziraphale and Crowley repeatedly attempt to listen to music cassette tapes, only to have them morph into “Best of Queen” albums if left in the car for over two weeks. War, Death, Famine, and Pollution are followed around by four human bikers trying to represent concepts such as No Alcohol Lager, Things Not Working Properly, and All Foreigners Especially The French. Witch-hunter Newt Pulsifer is pulled over by aliens (for no reason) who criticize humans for being a dominant species while under the influence of consumerism. Pratchett’s witty writing style and Gaiman’s inventive fantasy are both evident here.

My favorite part of the book is near the end, where Crowley drives to help Aziraphale in a burning car held together by his own willpower, and proceeds to pick up a tire iron to fight Satan (in contrast to Aziraphale’s flaming angel sword). I also like the depictions of the Horsepeople: War as a beautiful red-haired woman who writes newspaper stories on international conflict, Famine as a thin businessman dressed in black who sells diet foods that make people starve to death, and Pollution as an inconspicuous white-haired young man who helped invent environmentally disastrous products.

If you enjoy satirical books such as Discworld or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you should definitely read Good Omens.

-Miranda C., 11th grade