Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
Way back in 2012, I DNFed American Gods about three times. I tried really hard to like that book, but it just wasn’t happening. After that, I avoided Gaiman even though I’ve consistently heard that his writing is amazing. Well, I needed a book set in Scandinavia for a reading challenge, so what better than some Norse mythology?
This book was so good! I don’t really have any background in Norse mythology — I think the extent of my knowledge comes from the Thor movies — but you don’t really need any prior knowledge to enjoy this book. Gaiman writes a funny, engaging story of all the Norse gods interacting with each other and getting into shenanigans.
Norse Mythology gave me hope for other books by Gaiman, so I went out and got The Ocean at the End of the Lane for myself and added a bunch of his other books to my library wishlist.
#ps19: a book set in Scandinavia
We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss
Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.
But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling. Tense and emotional, this heartbreaking novel explores family, abuse, sex, love, friendship, and the lengths a person will go to protect the people they love.
I actually DNFed We’ll Fly Away last summer, not because it was bad, but just because it was a much heavier book than I was in the mood for. I ended up picking it back up (audio this time) and connecting with it a lot more.
Still, it was a lot heavier of a book than I normally read. In general, I’m not a big fan of stories that pack a big emotional punch, and this one, a book about a teenage boy on death row, his neglectful mother, and the physical abuse his best friend endures, definitely fits that description. I really felt for both Luke and Toby, and, though I knew it was impossible, I just wanted everything to turn out okay for them in the end.
I saw the ending coming, but I don’t really think it’s supposed to be a surprise. I mean, the whole book builds up to the climax of what exactly landed Luke in prison. So, I don’t love the theme, I saw the ending coming, it’s no wonder I didn’t love this book. But the characters really made it worth the read. I loved reading about their friendship. It’s so rare in YA to find a supportive friendship like this between two boys, and it was so nice to read about.
If you’re in the mood for heartbreak and strong friendships, I’d highly recommend this one.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Through six turbulent months of 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. By the time the last diary shuts, there have been great changes in the Mortmain household, not the least of which is that Cassandra is deeply, hopelessly, in love.
I checked out I Capture the Castle solely because I needed a classic romance for one of my 2019 reading challenges. It’s not something that I would have checked out otherwise, but I ended up really enjoying it!
Cassandra was such an upbeat, fun narrator. The whole book is told through her journal entries, and despite everything going on around her, she keeps a positive attitude. For being written in journal entries, the book does a surprisingly good job of setting the scene. I felt like I was in that crumbling castle with the Mortmains, watching everything unfold right along with them.
I didn’t really expect to enjoy this book, but it was a lot of fun.
#romanceopoly: austen row
Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR?
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