American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This is an old book but I thought it would be fitting since not long ago the 10th anniversary edition was released. I actually read the book back in 2003 for my first college English class and it was an honors one so we got away with reading the book. Luckily the administration didn't know what we would be talking about cause I remember at one point during the book our teacher discussed proper ways to slit one's own throat with a straight razor. Yeah. I am sure the college in South Dakota didn't want us discussing that but it was a very memorable class and book.

The author is an amazing writer. He can be found on twitter (@neilhimself) and has been interviewed on a number of great podcasts. I like the interviews that Mur Lafferty did on I Should Be Writing. He's fun to listen to so I recommend checking out that podcast or the one on Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing.


Cover on the book I read.
New cover.

About the book from Goodreads: After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. But as the days, then the hours, then the minutes, then the seconds until his release tick away, he can feel a storm building. Two days before he gets out, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in apparently adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr. Wednesday claiming to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town. But they are being pursued by someone with whom Shadow must make his peace... Disturbing, gripping and profoundly strange, Neil Gaiman's epic new novel sees him on the road to finding the soul of America

My review: Amazing book. I loved it and have read it at least a couple times since taking the Honors English class. It's one of the few books that I've read more than once as an adult and during a time when I rarely read for fun. I recommend this book to anyone who is at least slightly open-minded. There are a couple of scenes that would disturb the extremely uptight, so I try not to recommend it to those types of readers. Let's just say the scenes have sexual content and not just normal stuff from romance novels because this is not that kind of book and leave it at that. But the scenes are important to the overall story. The whole writing is because Neil Gaiman is an amazing writer... prolific writer even.

I even liked the main character's name. It's hard to get away with naming a man something like "shadow" and having it seem fitting but the way Gaiman has written this book, the name works very well with the character. And Wednesday is a perfect name for the character Shadow meets in the beginning of the novel. Then there is the whole concept of the old gods versus the new ones. Wonderful idea. Part of the fun was trying to figure out who each character was and some were easier than others. Most were different religious figures, with a couple of characters who didn't quite have "god/dess" status but they were fun to research. The only one we had a hard time with is a character that goes into a casino and can see the money in a magical sense. I'm sure someone figured it out. I also like that the author, Gaiman, doesn't give answers to readers because he prefers to have them figure things out for themselves. He knows that readers will respond in their own ways and has no problem letting them interpret the text.

The chapters aren't always from the main characters point of view and sometimes they seem unrelated to the overall story but once you've read the story one time you will want to read it again in order to appreciate how everything intertwines to create the amazing story that is this novel. The plot is intricate and fun to read. I didn't expect the ending but once I reread, I was able to see how every complicated storyline worked together in order to get us to that point and it totally made sense. In fact, I really like it.

Cover wise, I prefer the old cover. They aren't overly different but the small differences make a big impact. The street and lightning felt right to me. The 10th anniversary cover is more about the title and author name and not much else. At least the lightning is still there but I miss the road. I do get the reason for the new cover, the storm is in the first part of the novel, but I still hold firm that I think the other one is a little better.

But whatever cover, it doesn't matter, just read this book.

Dawn's Verdict: 10/10



Loralie Hall said...

One of my favorite books ever - and a huge influence in my writing (if you couldn't guess). Good choice and great review ^_^

Now you've made me want to read it again...I think we have a copy downstairs *wanders off to check*

L'Aussie said...

This sounds like an edgy book, maybe not my style if it has such explicit scenes, but all the same you've written a great review Dawn.


Dawn Embers said...

Loralie - :-) My copy is well used.

L'Aussie - It's really not that bad. There are only two elicit scenes and they aren't very long. One with the main character and one that is one of the side stories that make up the whole complex story of the novel. I just know living in places like Utah, some people wouldn't be able to handle it even in small amounts. But we all have our own preferences. I usually skip over explicit scenes in writing cause even kissing scenes aren't really appealing to me and if it's the focus of the story, forget it.

Trisha said...

This sounds pretty amazing! Nice review :)

I haven't read any if Neil Gaiman's stuff, but it has always come highly recommended. Perhaps I should start with this :)

L'Aussie said...

Trisha: Hi, glad you came across. Let me know if you read this and tell us what you think!


Dawn Embers said...

Trisha - Thanks for coming to our blog. I've only read American Gods but I have a few of his books on my to-read list. The movie based off his book, Stardust, was good too.

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