Janne Teller - Odin's Island

Rating 7.2

Funnily enough, this is the third book I read involving some big wig from Valhalla taking a trip downstairs.

Whereas the hilarious American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Son of the Thunder God by Arto Paasilinna focused on Mr. Thor and his kin, Janne Teller chose no less than the CEO of Norse cosmogony: Odin.

Odin's Island is a brilliant but long winded novel. 
Miss Teller has a knack for creative storytelling and here plays quite skillfully on the thin razorblade separating a young adult from a grown up audience.  However, there's too much on Odin's Island plate to get a satisfactory reading meal. 

The author of this book juggles with Nordic sagas, environmentalism, religious fanatism, pure escapism and geopolitical frictions. No surprises that sometimes one of these juggling balls falls down thus affecting the plot of the novel. It's hard to tell a folktale dressing it up with a dystopian cloth. 

Characters are very sketchy here and Janne Teller doesn't seem to care much to develop some of them as they may deserve. Personally, I couldn't help but picture Tintin's 'Captain Haddock' every time 'Ambrosius the Fisher' said anything, just like the character 'Gunnar the Head' reminded me Kjell Bjarne from the Norwegian movie (and novel) Elling.

Reading an English translation of this book, didn't help me as too many names were translated and with a randomness that left me quite puzzled. It's quite obvious that, say, if you change the original 'Smedieby' into the plain 'Smith's Town' the whole architecture of a modern saga collapses.

As for the religious subplot here, I found it quite brave but it may be hard to chew for those who don't appreciate a certain blend of Danish humour (including the notorious Mohammed cartoons and a movie like Adam's Apples).
Anyways, with its pros and cons, Odin's Island was a pleasant and refreshing novel and left mostly good memories.

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