American Gods by Neil Gaiman

What a different, yet awesome book! Seriously, I had no clue what I was getting into with this book. I saw it at the library, and I had seen online that it was pretty good, and I knew Neil Gaiman was special, so I picked it up. My only other Gaiman experience (well that sounds a little odd…) was when I read The Graveyard Book three years ago. I really loved it, but unfortunately, people in my class hated it, so we didn’t do any assignments on it. I’ve also seen Coraline the movie, but that’s not quite the same thing. So I knew that Gaiman’s works were different, and reading the 10th Anniversary edition introduction, I could see from the varied awards it had one, that the book didn’t quite fit a specific genre. Which excited me, and I was not disappointed.

As I said, I read the 10th Anniversary edition, which meant there was a little more than what was first published. But since I haven’t read that, I have no idea of the differences. And there was a cool little novella, Monarch of the Glen, so I’m glad I picked up this copy (well I’m glad the library had it!).

I have to admit that there was probably quite a bit the book just went over my head. As in some of the references to other things I probably completely missed, and I’m not particularly well versed in mythologies (apart from Greek/Roman/Egyptian thanks to Rick Riordan, even then only fleeting. But they didn’t really appear, or I think so) so I didn’t quite pick up on who everyone was, or figure out who they were before they basically revealed themselves. But I would say that a lot of people would have very little clue about every single god referenced. As an example, I didn’t get who Wednesday was until it was written he was Odin. And then there’s other subtleties which I think I would have missed (like foreshadowing) simply because it was my first time reading, and you always miss things. So, it would be interesting to reread it in the future.

So this book started out so pleasant and hopeful, the guy, Shadow (who, did we ever get another name for him, or was his ‘real name’ actually Shadow?), was going to leave prison and return to his wife. Of course, things go wrong and we find out that she died. But that’s really not what the story is about at all, it’s a subplot. The real plot is that this Wednesday character shows up and knows everything about Shadow and offers him a job, and stalks him, so Shadow can’t escape him, no matter how hard he tries. And when I read about that, I was so confused, what was happening, how did Wednesday keep showing up everywhere? Well, duh, the title gives it away!

So I’m not going to give away the ending (but oh my!) but the book deals with the ‘new gods’ trying to get rid of the ‘old gods’ because they think they are redundant. It’s a very interesting concept, and more interesting because the new gods, who are things like TV, movies, the internet, etc., are most certainly gods. People worship them, they sacrifice (time) for them, they have rituals around them. And it’s so pervasive in today’s societies, more so than actual religion I’d guess.

I really, really, really enjoyed this book! I know have a great desire to go ahead and find more of Neil Gaiman’s works, because it was so beautifully descriptive and imaginative, and exciting and gripping, and funny and shocking, that I loved it. Seriously, how do authors come up with things like this? I hearty recommend finding a copy and enjoying!

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