Odd and the Frost Giants
Author: Neil Gaiman
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: March 2008
Genre: Children's / MG
Summary: After the death of his father, Odd's life has been stuck in a downward spiral. However, his luck begins to change after he frees a trapped bear in the woods. Discovering that the bear is actually a Norse god, twelve-year-old Odd embarks on a perilous quest to save the other gods from evil frost giants.
Review: Odd is a lonely 12 year old boy, and a rather odd boy. Having crippled his leg after the death of his Viking father, he can do nothing right by his new step-family who taunt and tease him. When he visits his father’s old log cabin in the wood, he is befriended by three magical animals, who turn out to be the banished Norse gods Thor, Odin and Loki.
Having been thrown out of Asgard by the Frost Giants, the gods have been banished in animal form and are unable to cross the rainbow bridge and take back their Hall. Under the Frost Giants power, winter is set to stay for good, unless Odd can help them.
Odd and the Frost Giants is a simple coming-of-age story, which sees a young boy take on problems and enemies which even the three gods have struggled to overcome. Despite lacking the physical strength and prowess so desired by the Norse villagers, Odd fights and defeats the Frost Giants using cunning, wisdom and some lateral thinking.
Odd, which means blade, is actually a bit odd. He is unerringly positive, always smiling, and able to look at problems from a unique viewpoint. With a little more development his unswerving positivity might feel more realistic, as we don’t really understand why he is always so positive. Sometimes it comes off as arrogance or even madness, which is not necessarily true.
Written like an old fable in novella form, Odd and the Frost Giants is short but well paced. The plotline is simple, and easy to follow for young readers. The characters would benefit from more depth and back story, and of course the story could be much longer as it is so enjoyable to read. For the younger reader, this would certainly make a good introduction to Norse mythology as well as the writing of Neil Gaiman.