A take on Neil Gaiman’s novel Odd and the Frost Giants
by Jahzeel Dionne Ybasco
There is no use wondering if we could go back to our childhood: it has long been proven we cannot. At least, there are some stories that take us back to the times when we can believe in anything when life was not that difficult yet and children thought it possible to fly. Neil Gaiman takes us back to the times when it was just fine to make fun of gods, legends and imagine why the world is the way it is with his short novel, Odd and the Frost Giants.
It is a well-written fanfiction, a fresh take on Norse Mythology. I didn’t even realize that I was about to read (and finish) until I got through the third chapter and even then, I refused to believe it. It could have just been the author’s device to make me read it more. I could have been the innocent in all of these but including “Frost Giants” in the title of the novel was not a giveaway. Not until the Eagle dived into the pool of water and created the Rainbow Bridge did I believe that it seriously was a different take on Norse Mythology.
One factor why I like this novel is the simple naming sense. It reminds me of How to Train Your Dragon where the main character is named Hiccup and his father is named Stoic because, well, he is stoic. The protagonist of Odd and the Frost Giants is named Odd– how easy is that. He earns his name for smiling despite moments when a smile on a person’s face is the last thing people expect to see (e.g. his father’s death, the time he loses his foot). The prominent gods included in it are named after typical animals, Bear, Eagle, and Fox. Even Odd’s uncle who is equivalent to Cinderella’s evil stepmother is named Fat Elfred because he is fat and not because he is obstinate.
That a bear, eagle, and a fox can talk is already an appeal by itself. People need to read fables more. To even realize that the animals are Thor, Odin and Loki is even a better treat. The bear summarizes almost everything about Thor, his strength, his command, and even the blind way he follows his feelings more than his cunning. Odin’s pride is symbolized by the Eagle as he doesn’t like to mingle with the other land animals. What better way to symbolize Loki than a cunning fox?
What probably serves as the icing of the cake for me is Odd’s simple logic which outwits the Frost Giant. It reminds me of the innocence of children. They are very simple, their lives less complicated. Talking to kids makes me remember how easy it was to look at airplanes and imagine people could ride birds. It is interesting to read a novel that reflects what people used to imagine when they were kids. I can only assume that Neil Gaiman used Odd, a crippled character who has an unnerving smile, so most readers, particularly those who did not actually have a colorful or sparkling childhood, can relate to him.