Monday, March 10, 2008

Book Review: Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free book reviews.

I'm not a hardcover kind of guy, mainly for the price and the burden of lugging it around so when Fragile Things first came out, I wanted to get one but opted for the mass-market version that was inevitable (who's not going to re-release Neil Gaiman?). The Harper Perennial version certainly has a unique aesthetic and comes with "bonus material" at the end, mostly interviews and a catalogue of other Gaiman books published by Harper Collins. As for the collection itself, it comes with 31 short stories and poems as well as an introduction that's as compelling as Smoke and Mirrors. Of all of Gaiman's collections, I think this is by far the most superior as it features more of his later work and has a more polished style. I've also read several of the stories here before in various anthologies but it was great to revisit them as I wasn't the same reader I was several years ago. Reading them today, I enjoyed them more the second time around. Here's my top three stories: "A Study in Emerald" is this hybrid between Lovecraft and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Gaiman parallels the original Sherlock Holmes story quite well but at the same time infusing it with his own unique elements. "Sunbird" on the other hand is quite mythic and having read this story the second time made it an even greater read as this is one of those stories that is seeded quite well. "The Monarch of the Glen" features one of my favorite Gaiman characters from American Gods and while I didn't quite get it the first time around back in 2004, reading it now made perfect sense and was quite an enjoyable experience. Overall, this is a fun collection that's not intimidating and is easily accessible. Gaiman's prose, in my opinion, has been evolving for the better and it's evident in Fragile Things. Oh, and you get poems to boot.

Rating: 3.5/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

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