Audiobook Review: Stardust

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: StardustStardust by Neil Gaiman
Narrator: Neil Gaiman
Length: 6 hrs, 38 mins
Published by Harper Audio on October 30, 2012
Genres: Adventure, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria Forester - even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that stone barrier, Tristran learns, lies Faerie . . . and the most exhilarating adventure of the young man's life.

From number-one New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman comes a tale of the dark and miraculous - a quest for true love and the utterly impossible.

Review:
This is my third format for Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, having first seen the film and then read the physical book. Thus far, Stardust has been my favorite Neil Gaiman work, perhaps in great part because of my love for the movie. The book has a few key differences from the film, but I do like it quite well. I find, however, that Stardust as a book works so much better, for me at least, as an audiobook.

Fairy tales were passed down through generations as part of an oral tradition, captured on paper eventually by enterprising souls like the Brothers Grimm. As such, Gaiman’s fairly tale comes alive on audio. The format just seems so utterly appropriate for the story. I’ve also listened to the audiobook of The Graveyard Book, narrated by Neil Gaiman, and this one feels much more intimate, more like he’s telling you personally a story. There’s just something about this book read aloud.

The strength of Gaiman’s writing lies in his world building and his writing, both of which I think are phenomenal. Neil Gaiman, much as I admire him, is not among my very favorite authors because I do not think he does quite so well with characterization, which is my favorite aspect of books. This is most definitely the case in Stardust, but, in audiobook format, this did not bother me or particularly diminish my enjoyment of the story the way it did when I read it myself. This format also really allowed me to appreciate the beauty of Gaiman’s prose.

I’m not precisely certain how the Gift edition differs from the other Stardust audio, but it may be the inclusion of a few extras, like an interview with Neil Gaiman. In this interview, Gaiman made some clever observations on audiobooks and how different a reading experience they are. He observed that they can really make a person listen to every single word of the text, rather than skimming through description-heavy passages in favor of action scenes and dialog. This is so true, and precisely why I could develop a slightly stronger appreciation for his writing talent.

So far as the story of Stardust goes, I really enjoy parts of it, like the concept and the wall separating faerie from the human world. Other things are less well done, and, to be entirely truthful, I largely prefer the changes the film made to the plot. The characters come alive on film in a way they don’t, and the romance is believable where it really isn’t here. I also feel the ending is rather anticlimactic and rushed in the book.

What it really comes down to, though, is that having Neil Gaiman read you a story is a beautiful thing. He has a lovely voice, and he does a great job narrating his stories. If you’ve struggled with Gaiman in the past or been hesitant to try his books, I would highly recommend the audio versions as perhaps a bit more accessible.

12 responses to “Audiobook Review: Stardust”

  1. Okay, I really need to try this. You know I’m not the biggest audio book fan, but the way you describe how it’s spoken sounds amazing. The only other time I’ve enjoyed an audio book was when it was a fairy tale type of story, and you are so right: that’s how fairy tales are supposed to be shared.

    Also, this is my husband’s favorite movie ever, and I promised him I would watch the movie if he would read the book.

  2. Ivana says:

    I’ve read Gaiman’s American Gods and The Graveyard Book, and also watched videos of him reading. I definitely have to try one of his audiobooks since he’s such a fantastic narrator.

  3. Stephanie says:

    The characterization issue is definitely my one and only problem with Gaiman’s books…well said! His MCs are usually an everyman/every-kid for his children’s books, which works well in something like CORALINE, but it’s one of the reasons I don’t connection emotionally with most of his books even though I adore the stories.

  4. I own Stardust as a physical book and the DVD but have neither read nor watched it. But you make a great case for the audio so maybe I’ll buy it and then let it sit on my phone for pretty much forever and just never read it because you know, I do things like that. BUT I did like Click Clack The Rattlebag on audio, so I suppose I will end up actually listening to this. And that was a super long paragraph about life decisions.

    Also.Gaiman’s prose really is awesome. The end.

    • Christina says:

      DUDE, you definitely should watch it, and read it. Not sure which way is better. Maybe read first? The characters are more awesome in the movie, and it has a more dramatic conclusion. Yeah, I think read first.

  5. wow.. to have been able to watch/read/and now listen to it? haha! I never read a book by Gaiman.. but this sounds amazing!! I want to read how his writing style is! Great review!
    – Farah @ MajiBookshelf

  6. Kat Balcombe says:

    I’m SO glad you loved the audio version. After TGB I was looking to listen to another Gaiman audio soon (if just to swoon a little at his accent, I loves it!), and the story sounds interesting too. Thanks 😉

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