Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Title: American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Science Fiction; Fantasy
Length: 624 pages
Binding: E-book, Paperback, Audiobook
Published: April 2002 (Reprint)
Buy: Amazon


A storm is coming . . .

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Relevant and prescient, American Gods has been lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is, quite simply, an outstanding work of literary imagination that will endure for generations.

My Rating:

My Review: American Gods was one hell of a labor of love. I've had the book sitting on my bookshelf ever since it was in talks with the big guns in Hollywood that someone might pick it up. Well, a couple of weeks ago it was confirmed that STARZ got the rights and will be making it into a television series. So I decided it was time to read the book rather then let it keep collecting dust.

 I really enjoyed the story, even the stories within the story, the mythology on how "gods" weren't born in America, but traveled over with the people that came here. And how those gods slowly were forgotten and how new gods, created by the age of technological advancement, started taking over. American Gods is deep, heavy, thought provoking. I enjoyed the variety of colorful characters, gods of old (Egyptian, Norse, Biblical, Indian etc.) in disguise as humans and had fun figuring out who they were with the subtle and sometimes not so subtle hints Gaiman dropped along the way. Shadow, the main protagonist, was a very interesting study that I originally thought was kind of dull but ended up becoming a very well rounded character by the end of the novel.

 My problem, thus the reason for the 4 star rating, is because, as I stated above, it was a labor of love. There is no doubt that Gaiman is a great storyteller, however, the story got bogged down with tedious details. There were parts I wanted to skip, but then I feared I would miss something big if I did. There were just details within the scenes that could have been cut out. For example, I didn't need to know that someone cooked Shadow bacon and eggs and how it was placed on the plate, and how it was placed on the table and what he poured himself to drink and how he sat down, and how long it took him to eat, etc., etc. Where the hell was his editor?

 On the flip side to all the unnecessary details, this will, no doubt, be a great thing for the creators of the television adaptation. They have so many details at their fingertips to work with. I will also say that I look forward to seeing how they bring some scenes to life on screen. My favorite part of the story (slight spoiler) is when Shadow rides on the "World's Largest Carousel" and some of the magical creatures that are on this Carousel come to life. How are they going to show him riding a griffin? Or how will they portray some of the gods in their natural form, such as Ganesha (Hindu god, half elephant, half man) or the Egyptian gods Horus & Anubis? I definitely can't wait to see how they make these things come to life!

American Gods is a unique tale of gods, those that have been forgotten and those who are fighting not to be. If you have a nice chunk of time set aside to get lost in a story, I definitely recommend it. Even better, this may be worth an audiobook listen. Rest those eyes and let someone else take you on the journey.

best wishes,mia

about the author

Neil Gaiman's work has been honoured with many awards internationally, including the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. His books and stories have also been honoured with 4 Hugos, 2 Nebulas, 1 World Fantasy Award, 4 Bram Stoker Awards, 6 Locus Awards, 2 British SF Awards, 1 British Fantasy Award, 3 Geffens, 1 International Horror Guild Award and 2 Mythopoeic Awards. Full list here.