American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Published by William Morrow on February 5, 2013
Genres: Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Mythology
Pages: 541 Format: Paperback Source: Purchased
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.
It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a Neil Gaiman title, but now I’ve finally gotten around to reading American Gods. Everything he writes is extremely strange and yet totally readable and this one was no different. Focusing on gods both new and old, Gaiman captures America in a portrait depicting both immense change and extreme stubbornness. Honestly it’s ridiculous how accurate this still is.
Let’s start with Shadow, the main focus of the narrative. His journey is surprisingly compelling and it’s easy to care for him right from the start. He’s had a difficult life before being released from prison and now it’s just being compounded by each incident that comes along. Shadow’s struggle to find himself anew and make his way through this strange world made this story extremely relatable and made me turn the pages faster and faster.
My other favorite part of this story was the mythology behind it. Gaiman did his homework and managed to include gods and goddesses from all cultures. He even ties them all together in this strange bond that worked extremely well. I was especially pleased that Native American beliefs were a focal point as that seems to fall by the wayside in most tales. Plus there’s commentary on the creation of new gods as people invest their time, money, and passion into inventions of the 21st century.
Overall American Gods by Neil Gaiman was a solid read by an excellent author. This title was never going to be my favorite of his books but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Shadow was a compelling protagonist and the gods of all backgrounds truly shone through. This book definitely read like a love letter to America, the good and the bad, and I’d definitely recommend it. Now I can watch the TV show!
So have you read American Gods? Interested in mythology? Have you seen the show?
Let me know in the comments below!