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American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

American Gods: A Novel (original 2011; edition 2003)

by Neil Gaiman

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23,50659347 (4.1)12 / 1080
sallowswine's review
I found this really dull and uninteresting--it's just reading a hundred pages of tedious dialogue and plot that is then punctuated with ten pages of odd, dreamlike imagery or strange sex (I can see why HBO wants to make it into a miniseries). It was definitely a slog. It picked up a bit near the end, but I just feel Neil could have taken--perhaps--the entire middle three fourths of the book and either condensed it into a chapter or two or maybe even excised it completely. It just dragggggggged; I think a competent editor could have pared this down to something that wasn't filled to the brim with as much rambling. I will say the ending bumped this up to a "soft" 2.5/5, but definitely still rounded down to 2. ( )
2 vote sallowswine | May 28, 2012 |
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Neil Gaiman is one of the best storytellers of our time. If you haven't read one of his books, you should start with Neverwhere, move on to Stardust, quickly devour American Gods and then treat yourself to Anansi Boys or Good Omens. You simply just can't go wrong with Gaiman! If you're in to audiobooks, he narrates both Stardust and Neverwhere. Give him a go! You won't be disappointed! ( )
  pennylane78 | Sep 6, 2014 |
A great read. Like some of my favourite books it seemed to be losing its hold on plausibility but brings it all together in the end to a satisfying conclusion which ties up all the loose ends nicely. I am not a big fan of fantasy but I'll make an exception for Gaiman, and Pratchett. ( )
  jerhogan | Sep 3, 2014 |
What if gods walked the Earth as they did in ancient tales? Neil Gaiman answers that question in his own way, this story assumes that all gods from all pantheons are real, but not quite in the way you might expect. They have their abilities, and we discover some weaknesses.

The book starts off slowly, as the protagonist, Shadow, seems to flow randomly from event to event and place to place. Wednesday seems to be guiding the story, but the reader gets very little information about what's going on, except that a war is looming.

There are a number of sex scenes early in the book that feel extraneous, and a bit over the top. I think the book would have been better without them.

There are a lot of dream sequences that seemed important. Some of the symbolism seemed to indicate changes in Shadow's life. Many of the dreams just felt random.

The writing is good, it holds your attention. The second half of the book definitely picks up as you begin to understand what is happening. If the whole book were like the second half, I would recommend it, as it is, it is good, but difficult to get through in the beginning. ( )
  Nodosaurus | Sep 2, 2014 |
This was quite a bit different from Gaiman's other works for me. I enjoyed it as it was very thought provoking, especially about what we believe in and actually worship here in America.
  hoosgracie | Aug 28, 2014 |
I loved it. ( )
  Irena. | Aug 26, 2014 |
I loved this book. First of all, Gaiman is a fantastic writer. He can really spin a story that keeps you interested, and his writing style is vivid, with amazing imagery. Secondly, this was just a fantastic story. Interesting, creative, unique. Loved it! ( )
  sammii507 | Aug 19, 2014 |
This is a spider's web of history and fiction and fact and myth and legend. It has the intricacies of a web, the confusion, the trickery and the beauty.

Gaiman is a master. With just one or two lines each character (and oh my are there a lot of characters in this book!) comes to life. Even the most unbelievable characters are believable and solid and real in their own ephemeral way.

The only thing keeping this book from being pure perfection is that there were too many places in the narrative when it was really easy for me to walk away, read a different book for a few days. These few slow places that lack the tension to keep the reader vested are rare, but they are noticeable enough I couldn't quite give it five stars.

Still, I will likely read it a second time. ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
This has been a long and winding road, but very fulfilling, each page. I learned a great deal from Neil and I went places I have never been - and places I have been - and places I hope to be again. I have been a fan of his from Good Omens to date. I loved Terry Pratchett. I love Neil Gaiman.

This is the second time I've read American Gods. It never gets old. ( )
  mreed61 | Aug 10, 2014 |
In the end, I was glad I read it, but I often found it difficult to trudge through. ( )
  turbobks | Aug 6, 2014 |
Always amazed by how Gaiman could make up stories with such characters. I love the twists he always does. ( )
  ratuvictoria | Aug 5, 2014 |
Interesting. It is a very different book from most of the other Gaiman I have read. I did not like the Jesus chapter in the extended version. I am glad it was left out of the original. I like the idea of bringing our gods with us wherever we move to. ( )
  morandia | Aug 1, 2014 |
Neil Gaiman. What else do I need to say? He is an excellent storyteller. Such a surprising end. ( )
  nycke137 | Jul 29, 2014 |
Neil Gaiman. What else do I need to say? He is an excellent storyteller. Such a surprising end. ( )
  nycke137 | Jul 29, 2014 |
Neil Gaiman. What else do I need to say? He is an excellent storyteller. Such a surprising end. ( )
  nycke137 | Jul 29, 2014 |
Though just as competent as all of Neil Gaiman's writing, this novel lacks the whimsy and the light-hearted macabre of Gaiman's other works. ( )
  Birdo82 | Jul 26, 2014 |
The writing in this book was really enjoyable, writing that made me want to read it out loud. I did eventually notice that the vocabulary used in this book was less exciting than I expected, lacking in beautiful words despite the beautiful sentences. The plot of the book reminded me of a thriller, with lots of action and lots of sex. I was a bit disappointed by how much this book resembled the archetypal thriller, since I’ve not been in the mood for thrillers lately. However, the writing was far above average, as was the creativity of the plot. The integration of mythology into a book that otherwise would fit neatly into the thriller genre was an exciting twist. And the plot twists at the end caught me completely off guard in the best of ways. Overall, I think this was probably Gaiman’s version of a thriller; I think I liked it far better than I would have a more stereotypical book in that genre; and I think there are probably other books of Gaiman’s that I would be blown away by. I’ll definitely be looking to read more of his work.

This review first published on Doing Dewey. ( )
  DoingDewey | Jun 29, 2014 |

To be honest, for a long time I wasn’t even sure I was enjoying this book. I LOVED the first fifty pages, then began to grow a little restless, but by the middle of the book, I was sucked in again. I read most of this book in an eye surgical center waiting room as my dad had an appointment, and by the time I was to page 300, I was oblivious to the world around me. Despite this book being roughly 600 pages, it’s tightly crafted. Even if you don’t enjoy the story, I think most people can appreciate Gaiman’s writing style. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, where there’s all sort of events going on and you’re entertained and know it all has a point, but can’t figure out exactly what until the end. There is really not an unnecessary scene in this book, which makes for a fairly quick-moving story, despite the page length.

Final Impression: A profound, interesting read that I’ll probably re-visit in the future and recommend to most people. I’ll definitely be looking into reading more Neil Gaiman as well. I’d give it a 4/5 stars.

A (longer) review originally appeared on my blog at Book.Blog.Bake. ( )
  Stormydawnc | Jun 23, 2014 |
Just the characters make this a worthy read. I wont even go into the plot. Need to read more from Neil. ( )
  Me-chan | Jun 19, 2014 |
For next book club. ( )
  bonreads | Jun 11, 2014 |
I really liked the story, as well as most of the characters. Neil Gaiman is really a brilliant author, and he does not disappoint here. I still think Neverwhere is one of the coolest ideas. The only reason I took a star off from this book was Shadow. There was plenty of character development for him, but there was a sort of affective flatness that sometimes made it difficult to identify with him. I know that his mindset was more or less explained with everything going on, but still I felt the emotional disconnect created some level of detachment for me. ( )
  sffstorm | Jun 9, 2014 |
Shadow's wants are few: he looks forward to his release from prison, a warm bath, reuniting with his wife and a job with an old friend. When these are quickly dashed, with the death of wife and friend in a car crash, he leaves jail in a daze. He soon encounters an all-knowing mysterious man who offers him a job of questionable legality. Thus begins an odyssey of epic proportions as he mets Old World Gods (brought to American shores by immigrants only to be forgotten) and New World Gods of modern origin. A conflict - an epic battle even-- seems inevitable. Many people have loved this book and it certainly kept me reading through almost 600 pages. I just wish Shadow, as close to an Everyman narrator as we we're going to get, had awoken from his daze at some point earlier than he did. He acts with little agency, accepting the incredible and the painful with amazing equanimity. He finally wakes up, but far too late for me to be much invested in it. ( )
1 vote michigantrumpet | Jun 6, 2014 |
American Gods is one of the earliest novels by Neil Gaiman which centered on a man called Shadow who was incarcerated in prison and counting days to get out but was released earlier because of the death of his wife, Laura. Not knowing what to do with his life without his wife and the lost of his potential job because of the incident, Shadow agreed to job proposal by a mysterious man called Mr Wednesday who was a con man himself but turn out to be an incarnation of Odin who came to America by immigrants but now like the old deities, had their powers diminished by the lost of modern Americans's belief in them. Under Wednesday's wing, Shadow saw that the new and old deities was in the verge of a war. The old gods disgruntled by their increasingly forgotten presence in favour of the new gods while the new gods feeling that the gods were old fashion and deserve to be forgotten or die.

However, I'm not sure whether the additional text (I read the 10th Anniversary edition) was necessary since surprising most of the book functioned as a filler around Shadow. Neil Gaiman had a tendency to form a narrative main character with barely enough backstory in them to make them interesting. His main white male characters often was a blank-slate character with an only function was as a vehicle for the audience to dive into the story. I see this in Richard Mayhew, Nobody, Tristran, the narrator in The Ocean at the End of the Lane. In fact there's some similarities between American Gods and Neverwhere which can be a spoiler if you focus too much on the characterization.

Since Shadow spent most part of the book, on the run from the trails of people who wished him dead or wanted him to play on their team, the book is a road trip with a lot similarities like CW's Supernatural. There's many also many subplot in this book which are unrelated to the rest of the book but good on their own. I love the story about the egyptian and slavic pantheon and wished for more of them. But to be honest, I couldn't care much about 60% of the book. Much of the wealth of this book came around the confrontation in the end and because Gaiman's tendency to spread bread crumbs of spoilers in his narrative, the rounding climax is quite predictable if you're used to Gaiman's style of writing.

It took me days to finish this audiobook but I probably will look forward to the HBO adaptations since much of Gaiman's strength is in his screenwriting. I'm not sure about how American was this book but I do enjoy the subtle mythologies.
( )
  aoibhealfae | Jun 2, 2014 |
This is the first Gaiman novel that I have read, and I really liked it. It kind of reminds me of Stephen King, from the fantasy/supernatural point of view. Maybe Gaiman's characters are simpler than King's (at least in this novel), but at the same time the story is more complex, and have more layers to it. I wonder if that is always the case (I've read many Stephen King novels, but as I said, this is my first and only Gaiman's).
Not being American (nor a native English speaker), I picked this book with some fear of losing many details due to my lack of knowledge about American culture. But I managed it just fine.
( )
  chaghi | Jun 1, 2014 |
American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: Harper Perenial
Published In: New York, NY, USA
Date: 2003
Pgs: 541


The gods of ancient man found themselves in conflict with the gods of modern man. The gods of credit cards face down the gods of thunder. The gods of television battle the gods of the sea. The gods of plastic face the goddesses of the hearth. And man is caught in the middle, though unaware. Hidden in human form, the gods prey on men like parasites, boons and magic mixed with bloodletting. Fading away, some of them unaware of what they were. Magic is loose in the land; new vs. old, life vs. death, past vs. future.

Gods and Goddesses
Science fiction

Why this book:
Written by Neil Gaiman. That’s reason enough all by itself.

This Stories are About:
courage, doing the right thing, greed, friends, sadness, family

Favorite Character:
Shadow is a good character, beaten by life, persevering in the face of odd and awesome circumstances. Still waiting for the other shoe to drop on what Shadow really is.

Least Favorite Character:
Shadow’s wife and best friend. That’s some serious bad relationship stuff there. Very messed up. Laura, Shadow’s wife, does a bunch to redeem herself in my mind, but that’s still a tough thing...even with their being under the influence.

Mr. Wednesday, mentor, bastard, deflowerer of virgins

Character I Most Identified With:
Shadow is the narrator and the central figure of the story. It’s hard not to identify with him as the world and the story happen to him.

The Feel:
There is a great sweep to this story that pulls you along.

Favorite Scene:
Shadow’s dead wife showing up the night after her funeral, obviously dead and zombie like, to sit beside his motel bed and smoke a cigarette and try to apologize for dying in a car wreck giving his best friends a blowjob a few days before Shadow got out of prison. I mean...damn.

The whole section where Shadow is settling into Lakeside. The place feels too good to be true. So, it probably is.

Shadow’s vision quest while doing the vigil for Wednesday is awesome.

Shadow’s talk with Whiskey Jack when he begins to see.

It’s a bit slow in the first act. With the introductions and the setting up of the later plot points, this makes sense, but it is a slow roll to begin with. This picks up significantly once Shadow and Mr. Wednesday are out on the road. Once you get through the opening, the book’s pace picks up well.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:

Hmm Moments:
Bar fights with leprecauns and a modern Queen of Sheba devouring a Hollywood producer with her vagina by page 39. I love Neil Gaiman.

The thunderbirds and the buffalo man in Shadow’s dreams, if they are dreams.

Odin hanging on his tree vs. Christ hung on his cross...the juxtaposition is striking.

Can’t say it without giving it away, but damn. Just damn.

Why isn’t there a screenplay?
A movie won’t be able to do this justice.

Casting call:
Would love to see George Clooney as Mr. Wednesday.

Last Page Sound:
That’s freaking awesome.

Author Assessment:
Neil Gaiman is a titan in my book.

Editorial Assessment:
The introduction makes it seem that this “anniversary” edition may have been the author’s big chance to go back and re-include parts stripped away by the first set of editors. I wonder if I should have tracked down the standard edition and read it instead. This version by Gaiman’s own count is roughly 12,000 words longer than the one that won the Nebula, the Locus, the Bram Stoker, and the Hugo Awards due to its wide genre footprint.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
real classic

Disposition of Book:
Irving Public Library, Irving, TX

Would recommend to:
friends, family, colleagues, everyone, genre fans ( )
1 vote texascheeseman | May 29, 2014 |
Well, I technically read a version slightly edited by Nat, because I was about 14. But it was nearly whole.
  GrytaJME | May 27, 2014 |
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