Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

MY RATING: ★  

“Because,” said Thor, “when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.”

This novel was very hard for me to rate because I’ve never rated a mythology translation/retelling before. Therefore, you can’t really rate a book based on the plot or the story since the author didn’t decide it by himself. It was a tradition passed on from oral stories to poems. Then I tell myself, how would rate or review a book like Norse Mythology?

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For that, let’s take a look what it is about. I don’t think there will be a clearer and more obvious title than Norse Mythology. It’s Neil Gaiman’s attempt to pay tribute to one of his favourite stories. Since the Norse Mythology is not as popular in the culture translations like Greek mythology, but it is as important.

“The Norse myths are the myths of a chilly place, with long, long winter nights and endless summer days, myths of a people who did not entirely trust or even like their gods, although they respected and feared them.”

The book starts with a list of names of characters and he explains to us briefly, who they are. It is quite useful but it feels very childish to me. A few pages after, I understand why he did it, because Norse Mythology has proper names for f**kn everything. A spoon? A table? We got a name for that. I guess it was one of the points I found quite annoying. When you’re reading a sentence and half of it are composed of names… #please.

The novel is a collection of short stories of the adventures of Thor, Odin and Loki. Some I find very pertinent and actually lead to the main climax which is the end of the world, Ragnarok. However, most of the stories are simply silly and weird (like most tales right? LOL). While I love Neil Gaiman’s writing usually, I was disappointed in this one. I know it was meant to be family friendly but I didn’t expect to read a middle grade book.

I still give a 3 stars for the stories being funny and for it to be very helpful for introducing us in Norse Mythology (which I think was the main message of the author). I get the the global picture and while it was a quick introduction, I find some details missing and  I was wishing for more.  But I guess if you take it as someone who never knew anything about Norse Mythology, this book did a quite efficient wrap-up at the main tales.

I might be in a picky mood lately hehe but hopefully my next reads will be better 😀 I also want to announce that I’ll be leaving for Vietnam tomorrow! I scheduled a few posts in my absence but I might not have the times to answer your comments or interact with you . Keep in mind I will do it once I’m settled in 😉 

Thank you to Penguin Random House for giving me this book to review  ! 

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10 thoughts on “Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

  1. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    I love you review and comparing our thoughts! We are so opposing on this one I think 😉 I seem to have enjoyed it for all of the reasons you struggled with it. So funny how that works.
    I am very new to Norse Mythology, so I greatly appreciated the list and quick ref. info. It helped tons. I also felt that the simplified story-telling felt more true to my past experiences with mythology in school. I was a fan of this being easy to digest, as it was an intro for me.
    But you are certainly right, it is not meant to follow suit with his usual writing. With that in mind, I was very cautious of who I recommended this one to. It will not appeal to all.

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  2. wonderfilledreads says:

    Great review, Trang! I haven’t read this one yet but I’ve had it since it first came out. I always pictured it to be Gaiman’s version of Norse myths, where he just basically writes the original myths in his own kooky Gaiman way. If that’s the case, then I think I’ll end up being okay with this one since it’s not breaking new ground. I haven’t read any mythology since I graduated from university so it’ll be fun for a nice reintroduction.

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  3. Yvo says:

    Oh no! Such a shame this one didn’t live up to expectations, but then again I wouldn’t have expected a middle grade feel either. I haven’t read this one yet, but now I know not to go into it with too high expectations. 😉 Great review!

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  4. LizScanlon says:

    Hmmmm… after all of the other reviews I’ve read and the book being well received it certainly is interesting to read your thoughts… I may feel the same way? But I don’t know until I give this a try, I guess 🙂 Definitely good to see another angle to this book, though!

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  5. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    haha I would find that annoying too!! Such cleverness simply tries my patience 😉 I do love Gaiman, but I’ve heard similar things about this- might give it a try, if I’m in the mood, but at this point I’ll probably give it a miss. Great review!!

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  6. Donna | Chocolate'n'Waffles says:

    I’ve never read a Gaiman book but I liked the sound of this one, might give it a try one day, but probably when I get rid of all the awesome stuff I actually really want to read, haha! Great review! 🙂 I’m sorry it did not work so well for you and this book!

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