American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition: A Novel
Wow! I have never read a book like American Gods, so I'm glad this was chosen as a group read. Crammed with characters, some of whom I recognised right from the start, some are hidden, several storylines, dark humour, myth, otherworlds, the mystical, parts of America unveiled, a road trip (of sorts), a murder mystery, and a love story this book cannot be pigeon-holed, or boxed in. Gaiman seems to have a unique talent in this regard. I have only read one other work by Gaiman, but it was a collaboration with Terry Pratchett and, reading American Gods I can now discern whose voice was whose, I think I shall be reading more of Gaiman's work, in addition to Pratchett's. I must admit, too, it was a new experience listening to an audio book where a cast were assembled to read the various characters. This may have helped to unravel some of the mystery though, as the same voices were used for characters with different names, and I twigged who particular characters, unknown to the protagonist, really were. When Shadow thought someone familiar, I was sorely tempted to scream at my iPod who they were, but it did not detract from my enjoyment of the book, or the Audible's Full Cast production. I highly recommend it as an audio book experience, especially if it's your first foray into the medium.Somewhat more than a fictional book, I found it also raised some questions about modern, pagan practices and religion in general. Fiction books can make you think, and this one does it, though not as subtlety as other books; this one is kind of blunt about it. As much as I avoid anything American, in choosing it as the setting indeed as one of the characters - Gaiman has played a masterstroke, as it allows so many different streams to converge in a fictional melting-pot (see the contents listed in the first paragraph). It all works because it is set in America. This becomes clear when the book concludes in Iceland.Strangely, the book does conclude, but it doesn't. There is scope for a sequel, however I was left with the distinct impression this is not forthcoming but, rather, the reader is left to ponder the future. American Gods is able to read, put down, and picked up again, without really losing track of what is happening, though I was glad that I picked it up every 12 hours or so, or I might have lost my place, and the pace of the book. It's not a small read, or listen, and I wish I could have spared the time to listen to it in one hit, certainly there was one section where I did not stop and stayed up rather late to get to the end of a particular sequence, it was gripping. Gaiman held my attention, almost from the start; at no point did I feel it dragged, though I have seen this as a complaint with this author's extended edition. Not having read the original version, I have nothing to compare, but I truly enjoyed this version, feeling not a word was excessive.I highly recommend American Gods. It's a jolly good romp exploring the nature of religion, faith, love, hope, people, all wrapped up in a darkly humourous road trip across America.