“Dark & Otherworldly...”Not just for the fantasy lover, realists will also relate to this dark & otherworldly criticism of American idolatry & deeply emotional tale of love lost.
The storm was coming….Shadow spent three years in prison, keeping his head down, doing his time. All he wanted was to get back to the loving arms of his wife and to stay out of trouble for the rest of his life. But days before his scheduled release, he learns that his wife has been killed in an accident, and his world becomes a colder place.
On the plane ride home to the funeral, Shadow meets a grizzled man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A self-styled grifter and rogue, Wednesday offers Shadow a job. And Shadow, a man with nothing to lose accepts.
But working for the enigmatic Wednesday is not without its price, and Shadow soon learns that his role in Wednesday's schemes will be far more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. Entangled in a world of secrets, he embarks on a wild road trip and encounters, among others, the murderous Czernobog, the impish Mr. Nancy, and the beautiful Easter -- all of whom seem to know more about Shadow than he himself does.
Shadow will learn that the past does not die, that everyone, including his late wife, had secrets, and that the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined.
All around them a storm of epic proportions threatens to break. Soon Shadow and Wednesday will be swept up into a conflict as old as humanity itself. For beneath the placid surface of everyday life a war is being fought -- and the prize is the very soul of America.
As unsettling as it is exhilarating, American Gods is a dark and kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth and across an America at once eerily familiar and utterly alien. Magnificently told, this work of literary magic will haunt the reader far beyond the final page.
Topics: Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses, United States of America, Epic, Dark, Black Humor, Adventurous, Norse Mythology, Folk and Fairy Tales, War, Mythology, Journeys, Greek Mythology, Road Trip, Postmodern, and Bodyguards
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If you love good fiction and mythology, this book is for you. It has everything you could want in a read, and then some. I highly recommend this book.more
However, there are certain parts of the book that were confusing. The main character isn't too forthcoming with information so at times I got a little lost. Despite that though, it's a good read and an even better listen.more
I really loved the idea of the old gods interacting with the new gods of America. It was a very clever story line and the character building and such was fantastic.
Now I have to go nurse myself back to health with copious amounts of vitamin C, but you can be sure that I will be reading this book again.
A blend of old and new, the story begins with Shadow just as he is released from prison, soon after, on his way home to resume his pre-prison life he meets Wednesday - a god of the old world and beliefs. Shadow is soon employed by Wednesday and finds himself on a mission to rally the 'old gods' against the new. The old gods were brought by newcomers to the country and have faded as new gods have grown in influence I.e. media. This setup is just the portal to a deeper story that I will certainly visiting over and over again. Brilliant.
I'm wavering between three and four stars; it was intricately plotted and an interesting story, but at times it seemed a little loose, and it still isn't entirely clear to me why Shadow was so important to the gods that he was brought in at the level he was.
Zelazny did this sort of thing about as well as anyone, and I don't know that Gaiman's work measures up to this standard, though I liked it far better than Stephen Brust's recasting of Lucifer's fall (To Reign in Hell).
Others have compared it to Stephen King's The Stand, whose characters never quite sprang to life for me.
Gaiman's book does nicely gather steam and offers up a satisfying finish, and it'll probably creep up to four starts by the time I'm done writing this review, though I don't really understand how they're making a series out of the thing.
After reading the book, I'm not sure I'll watch.more
Sure, I could probably go on about the plot or the characters, but the thing about American Gods is that it’s a book that when I put it down, I can’t stop thinking about it. And that’s just the first thing I love about it; that there’s so many themes that Gaiman touches on but there’s no one specific “THIS IS IS WHAT THE BOOK’S ABOUT” moment.” Just the initial concept of how gods come into being may drive the story, but that’s not just what the book’s about. I’d give you a laundry list, but I can’t even delve into the themes and ideas that all get discussed.
The mythology is rich and varied. You don’t have to know every culture that Gaiman references throughout the book, he covers each deity and background skillfully without bogging the reader with explanatory details. And how he uses the gods and myths that do appear is so well-crafted, it feels like the events depicted could have happened in real life. Gaiman blurs the line between reality and fantasy so well that I can really see Odin working as a two-bit conman. This is also added with the side stories of the different gods and mortals who brought their beliefs to America. In other hands, I’m sure that the tracks into other plotlines would have been clumsy, but Gaiman uses them to add so much more depth to the world. And speaking of blurring the line between fantasy and reality, I get so lost in this book that even the real world locations that get mentioned in the book feel like they’re made up or couldn’t possibly be real.
I said in my review for The Graveyard Book that Gaiman rarely has defined heroes and villains (depending on the book), and American Gods is no exception. There are characters who do unspeakable things, yet, these characters are still pitiable and even likeable. (Doesn’t excuse what it is that they do, though.) Shadow’s a good guy who’s done bad things, but he never sugarcoats his actions or tries to justify them. Wednesday is…Wednesday. It’s hard to go into specifics because I know there’ll be spoilers involved. But even the new gods, who are supposed to seem like the ‘bad’ guys, have moments of humanity and compassion.
And the writing of this book and the plotting—just, no words that I can physically use. It’s a very slow build-up but once everything’s moved into place, the plot just takes off. I’ve read this book roughly about fifteen times since I first picked it up, I know the twists and I know the surprises. EVERY time I’ve read it, though, I’m still finding new clues, new bits that I missed, subtle hints to the reveals (and they are there).
This is just about the closest thing to a perfect book that I own. Like I said, I’ve read it so many times, and yet, I still love it. I’m never bored or tired of the plot, I want to know more about this world and just…yeah, again. No words.
I found it very guy-y, especially when sex was involved. I could totally see some half-smart high school boy thinking it was heh heh really cool.
I just didn't dig it the way I dug Stardust.more
Thematically, it reminds me greatly of a lot of Charles de Lint, though it's much darker than both de Lint's work and Stardust or Neverwhere.
On the surface, the book is about gods, both modern and ancient, but really, it's about how fickle that Americans can be, and how shallowly we hold many things we, as a culture, believe are important to us. I'm not sure how I feel about such a thing being said by a non-American author, but the points he makes apply to the rest of the world as well -- just more obvious in the US.
As we loose our traditions our ancestors have had for generations or centuries, we replace them with other, perhaps less durable, traditions. A century or two ago, most cultures had strong story-telling or folk song traditions. The stories would be repeated and elaborated upon for generations. While your grandfather might not have told that exact story, or played that exact song, there would be something recognizable in it -- the words would be different, but at its heart, the stories would be related.
But with the world today, we're changing so rapidly that its just not possible to create that commonality from one generation to the next. Our stories are not the same stories told to our parents. They're the stories told by the TV. And the stories it tells us are not the same stories that it tells to our children or our next door neighbor. Our children's children probably won't watch TV, they probably won't have the internet as we know it. There will be something newer, greater, more advanced that will replace it.
We watch a TV show or read a book, and for the most part, that show has no meaning. Sure, it's something you can talk about to your friends if they watched the show as well, but when the next show comes on or the next book gets read, there's something new to talk about. A year from now, you wouldn't share it with your friends again unless it comes on in a re-run. You probably wouldn't even recall the details. That story, in whatever form it took, would have the impact of a ripple, rather than the wave of, say, trickster tales or even Grimm's Fairy tales.
I think the argument being made is that culture has become something temporary, ephemeral rather than something that has weight and lasting power. We spend a lot of energy on things that don't matter -- that won't exist in 5 or 10 years, or won't exist tomorrow. You might be sated for now, but because it's so temporary, there's something unsatisfying about it.more
I really liked Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. They wrote together and continued in the Mythical-realist style but went in different directions.In this book he seems to take the whole, personification of mythical gods and forces, too seriously and it made me miss the humour of terry pratchett or even Christopher Moore.
For me there is one great mythical-realist book. Little Big by John Crowley. But, maybe coming to it from this book, one could find it long and winding and a little twee. Still, for me, it started the genre, and remains the best.more