Gaiman v. Rowling
When I was younger I wrote many stories of other worlds; worlds we can't see but yet have an impact on our world. In some of my stories, characters flitted back and forth between both worlds, much like Harry Potter. In some stories, the other world consisted of beings that controlled part of our lives, as in The Kindly Ones.
I prefer the writing of Gaiman to the writing of Rowling. Gaiman writes with a flourish and with a style that bespeaks of the world in which his charaters live. Rowling, at least in the latest book, writes almost as if in a hurry - basic use of style that exists just to move the story on.
The quaintness of the first book has all but vanished; it slowly diminished with each successive title. That's not to say I'm not enjoying the book, I am. Not because it is a great literary read, no. My enjoyment has more to do with the expectations and anticipation that comes from reading the four books before this one, from just wanting to know where the characters end up.
With Gaiman's dream world, I am taken to a place that makes me feel the pull of the magic; I want to be there. I want to eavesdrop on Death or Destiny or visit that great library. With Potter, that feeling has diminished. I no longer feel the pull of the Great Hall or a Quidditch match. I am reading as a means to an end, to find out what happens. In the world of Gaiman v. Rowling, it's storytelling v. plot mechanisms.
They both deal with extraordinary powers and the supernatural and I suppose that's where the similarities end. Yet I find myself ultimately comparing the two, and I come up with the end result that Gaiman can, in just a few panels, tell a far more fascinating, complex and moving story than Rowling can in over 500 pages. Gaiman is story teller. Rowling is a story mover.
When all is said and done and I finally read the last word of Potter, I'm sure I will be satisfied that the hours I spent reading the book were hours well spent. After reading four books before it, you have the desire to plunge on through the new pages to find out what happens to your friends - and of course they are your friends if you've followed along this far. However, it's not re-readable. I'll put it on the shelf when I'm done, with the four that came before it, but I won't just pick it up again some day to start over again.
I'd read The Kindly Ones, and anything by Gaiman for that matter (and especially Stardust) again and again because so much lies underneath the words, as if there are stories buried under the stories. Gaiman's words are at once beautiful and frightening and that's what separates him from those who have not learned that the crafts of story telliing and writing are two entirely different things.