American Gods

(American Gods Cover) Last week I finally got around to reading Neil Gaiman‘s American Gods and was thrilled by the experience. Since the time I first discovered Mr. Gaiman’s narrative mastery (first in a short story, I believe), I’ve held him in the highest respect and I’ve long counted him among my favourite writers. He’s a true master storyteller and his work in various mediums never fails to be inventive, powerful and immensely entertaining. So, of course, I came to this book with nothing but the highest expectations. Even those were surpassed.
Like many of Neil’s writings, American Gods deals with the evolution and altering of stories. In this novel it’s the adaptation of myths from other parts of the world (and new, native ones) to America that takes the focus. Gods are the driving figures of this story, a down-and-out bunch who have lost the faith and accompanying power they once garnered from those who believed deeply in them. It’s a facinating core to a story that spins together facinating characters, a road story and novel explorations of such universal themes as death and sacrifice, technology and change and myth and spirituality.
The real strength of American Gods is the protagonist, Shadow, a very humanly protrayed character who came across as a gruff, intellectual everyman. Shadow was complex, a man just out of prison who was unable to return to his old life and must both reinvent and rediscover himself; he came to be thrown from one foreign situation to the next, both mundane and supernatural, from the moment he was released. He gave the story a much needed core of realism to anchor it and draw in the reader to the appreciative portrayals of the positive and simply bewildering aspects of America that need no fantasy elements to embellish.
Gaiman’s ability to balance story elements precisely shone through the entire book, with the pacing and opposing moods made impeccably fluid. Few writers are as adept at forging stories that engage and move the reader throughout their entire length. His humour, which is incredibly sharp, was especially appreciated during the more grisly scenes.
American Gods stands among Neil Gaiman’s best works and, quite frankly, among the best works of fiction of the past decade. Both well written and thematically important, it’s a book I feel stands as an exemplar for contemporary writers. All in all, it’s an immensely enjoyable, deeply satisfying and purely delightful book.

4 comments on “American Gods

  1. wow. I myself found Shadow to be terribly apathetic, passive, and with no personality, I couldn't feel any empathy towards him at all, and found the rest of the characters to be plain and cliched.
    I liked the concept, the plot, and especially the short stories (wututu and salim's by themselves make the book worth it) but i don't like the way Gaiman writes, really. I think the story would've been better developed under any other writer.

    But this is just me. Everyone else seems to love it, I heard a thousand and good reviews that made me read it in the first place.

  2. It's interesting you saw Shadow and Gaiman's writing style so differently. Maybe my love for his other books gave me a bias.

  3. wow. I myself found Shadow to be terribly apathetic, passive, and with no personality, I couldn't feel any empathy towards him at all, and found the rest of the characters to be plain and cliched.
    I liked the concept, the plot, and especially the short stories (wututu and salim's by themselves make the book worth it) but i don't like the way Gaiman writes, really. I think the story would've been better developed under any other writer.

    But this is just me. Everyone else seems to love it, I heard a thousand and good reviews that made me read it in the first place.

  4. It's interesting you saw Shadow and Gaiman's writing style so differently. Maybe my love for his other books gave me a bias.

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