American Gods (Paperback)
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Short Description for American Gods Shadow is a man with a past and wants nothing more now than to live a quiet life with his wife. When his wife is killed in a terrible accident, Shadow flies home for the funeral. As a raging storm rocks the plane, the strange man in the seat next to Shadow introduces himself as Mr. Wednesday. He knows more about Shadow than is possible--and he warns Shadow an even bigger storm is coming.
- Published: 01 May 2002
- Format: Paperback 624 pages
- ISBN 13: 9780380789030 ISBN 10: 0380789035
- Sales rank: 313
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Reviews for American Gods
- Top review
Having been a fan of Gaiman's graphic novels, I had admittedly high expectations for this, and was a little surprised to struggle with this book.
When I started reading and realised the premise of the book - neglected ancient gods living clandestine lives in the contemporary US - I found myself really excited and intrigued, and it's pretty evident that Gaiman's thoroughly researched and loves his subject matter. I'm also a fan of that theme of the hidden supernatural that lies beneath Americana (that instantly brought to mind Stephen King), and liked the dream sequences and almost Lynchian sense of ruptured reality.
However, where Stephen King succeeds and Gaiman fails here is in the depth of his characters, his engrossing voice and ability to create atmosphere using description and detail. There's a lot of detail in American Gods but it just feels like it's solidly packed with scenes and information and conversation all flatly delivered without any of the suspense and gravitas that should be there.
My biggest gripe with the book was it's main character, Shadow. Gaiman purposefully aimed to create a character that is alive yet not really living (or as his wife states "you're not dead, but I'm not sure that you're alive, either"), and he resultingly created a lead man that is a bit, well....boring. Even though you're with this character through his entire journey, Gaiman just doesn't give you enough voice or dimension to the character to make you emotionally invested in what happens to him. There's not even any convincing motivation here: Shadow is strongly resistant in the outset, then willingly throws himself into continual peril, and why? For loyalty to his boss, for his wife, for something to do, for some mysterious reason you have to read to the end to discover? Too late, by then I'm already bored. An unconvincing character.
The second major problem with this book is that the 'quest' the whole book pivots on is kinda vague, you're not really clued in on why it's so important. The 'threat' didn't feel threatening. And as a result I stopped caring pretty quickly, I just hung on because I figured there would be an interesting climax or twist at the end.
The best aspect of the book were the chapters interspersed throughout the book giving brief stories of various gods and their relationships with humans. Made for a relieving break-up of the road trip format, and shows that Gaiman's strength lies in story-telling, rather than prose.
Anyway, on the whole it wasn't particularly engrossing and the characters weren't terribly engaging, but the premise is interesting enough, and there are some interesting scenes. People rave about Gaiman's work so I'll look into his other novels and hope that he gives greater justice to the weighty and interesting themes he's choosing. by Alice Montes
I want to start off by saying that I loved this book. It captured my interest right away and kept it all the way through. I've been telling everyone about it and can't wait to get my hands on another book by Gaiman. The storyline is unique and off the wall and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Then there is the writing. Gaiman is a master of language. There are even passages I marked because I loved them so much and want to reread them again later. All that being said, I did not race through this book, but savored it. It took me a while to read because I didn't want to rush it..
It is not only the writing that's intriguing, but the subject matter. Gaiman explores interesting issues and philosophies, the way our culture has changed since people started coming to North America, and even what has happened since. This all revolves around the gods - the ancient ones from the old country and the new one's of technology and money.
Shadow is in jail for a bank robbery and, after three years, is going to be released. He has everything to live for, until he finds out that his wife and best friend (also his future employer) have been killed in a car accident. Shadow leaves jail and goes home, unsure of what he will do. Along the way he meets Mr. Wednesday, who offers him a job. It turns out that Wednesday is an old world god, trying to rally up other gods to fight the new world gods for survival.
I don't want to say too much about this book because I don't want to give it away. There are so many twists and turns, rich explorations of ideas, and stunning writing, that it will keep you turning the pages.
One of my favorite quotes (because I love books so much):
"What I say is, a town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it's got a bookstore it knows it's not fooling a soul." by Coreena McBurnie