Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

oddandthefrostFrom Goodreads:

The winter isn’t ending. Nobody knows why.
And Odd has run away from home, even though he can barely walk and has to use a crutch.
Out in the forest he encounters a bear, a fox, and an eagle – three creatures with a strange story to tell.
Now Odd is faced with a stranger journey than he had ever imagined.
A journey to save Asgard, City of the Norse Gods, from the Frost Giants who have invaded it.
It’s going to take a very special kind of boy to defeat the most dangerous of all the Frost Giants and rescue the mighty Gods. Someone cheerful and infuriating and clever.
Someone just like Odd.

I checked an audio version of this out via my lovely Overdrive app a few weeks ago, and was just delighted with it. Neil Gaiman, doing Norse mythology for kids and reading the book himself. The book was less than two hours long in audio, and flew by.

Like many people, I don’t know a lot more about Norse mythology than the Thor and Avengers movies have taught me, so I was pleasantly surprised when some of that movie mythology turned out to be legit. I mean, clearly Thor was the god of thunder and Odin was the king of Asgard and Loki was Thor’s brother, the god of mischief. Those things I knew. I didn’t know that Loki really was a frost giant, abandoned, though.

This story isn’t really about the gods, though. It’s a story about a young boy with a bad foot and an irrepressible spirit. Odd smiles though he has no reason to. And he saves all of Asgard because he has that special power of smiling when he has no real reason to. I can’t say much more without spoiling the book, but I highly recommend this one. It may have been written for children, but The Mr and I both enjoyed it thoroughly.

What’s your favorite Norse mythology book? Do you have one? Oh, and happy April Fool’s Day. 🙂

Review: The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman

The Dark Hills Divide is a middle grade book about a girl named Alexa who lives in a world (city, really) encased by very high walls. All her life, Alexa has looked for ways outside of the walls, and finally she finds one.

I can already tell you that this won’t rank among my favorite reads for 2011. Actually, I’ve been reading this book for a long time. Put it down a lot, lost it a few times, got distracted with getting married last year, etc. Even so, I remained intrigued enough to keep truckin’ through the book.

It was extremely predictable. Now, to be fair, this is a middle-grade book. That said, I felt like all of Alexa’s little discoveries were made a little too conveniently. The one character whose flip was supposed to surprise you didn’t at all, and the one whose was supposed to be galling wasn’t—because we had no emotional tie to him.

Really the biggest problem I have with this book, though, is that I feel as though it may have shot itself in the foot so far as potential goes. There are several more books in the series, and I own three more of them myself, so I’ll keep reading, hoping that the magic that disappears in this book comes back at some point, but the fact that there was no reason for the magic to go away in the first place frustrates me.

The writing was alright, though, and like I said, I’ll keep reading the books. I’m intrigued by this world, and I like Alexa, which is always a plus.