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American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman
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American Gods: A Novel (original 2001; edition 2003)

by Neil Gaiman

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24,17361845 (4.09)12 / 1125
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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There were so many references and allusions....I think I missed half of the book because I couldn't relate to all of them. I think the entire thing was a 'whoosh' moment, because I feel there's this huge deep and philosophical meaning that I totally did not get and just went right over my head....
Never felt so dumb in my life.... ( )
  LopiCake | Mar 25, 2015 |
I like Neil and I like when he says something that I never thought of but immediately identify with. His story pacing is typically excellent and his characters engaging.

That said, I liked this book the least of his that I've read. I'm fine with suspense and a little horror but I dislike being grossed out and horrified at the same time. Additionally there were a few parts that could have been omitted because they didn't appear to really move the main story onward. They were just fragments of other stories tacked on.

( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
2 ½ Stars ( )
  BookaholicCat | Mar 4, 2015 |
I have to admit, the first two thirds of American Gods was interesting, but it didn't compel me to stay up until 4 a.m. to read it. The narrative meanders and the settings of the book are constantly changing, so it was difficult for me to really get a sense of where the book was going. However, the last third wound things up fantastically, and made me very glad that I didn't put down the book. I also felt that in some ways the main character, Shadow, was very flat and at times hard to really get excited about. However, he does make an interesting dichotomy between the chaos happening in the story and the relatively stable, unaffected protagonist. ( )
  CandiedMapleLeaves | Mar 2, 2015 |
Holy WOW! This book was a trippy adventure! It is a fiction fantasy that contains elements of the magical & the mundane. Neil Gaiman creates such a fantastical world of divine beings. There are the old Gods (spiritual) and the new Gods (material). The old Gods came to America when the people who believed in them came to America from the old countries. The main character is Shadow Moon, an ex-con. He meets Mr Wednesday after he is released from prison & goes to work for him. There is a war brewing between the old & the new Gods & Mr Wednesday is at the center of it. Shadow is such a freaking awesome & compelling protagonist. He is smart & compassionate & courageous. There are so many fantastic secondary characters. A good deal of the book takes place in Wisconsin! Actually some crucial scenes take place at The House on the Rock. My review is not doing this book justice. Just know that I freaking LOVED it! I look forward to reading it again someday & can't wait to devour everything that Neil Gaiman has ever written. ( )
  michele.juza | Feb 25, 2015 |
An amazing book . It was a great read ( )
  durgaprsd04 | Feb 25, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this one. An interesting take on religion and gods being brought to America. Good characters, but some of the gods are not well known, which adds to the atmosphere. ( )
  adam.d.woodard | Feb 23, 2015 |
The premise of American Gods is that when people came to this country (United States) they brought their gods with them. Their pagan gods and assimilated them into their lives here, but that over time people have forgotten the old gods and they are being replaced by new gods, gods of technology. If you pay attention while reading, and if you’re familiar with Norse, Greek and Roman mythology and some other lands folk stories, you will recognize some of the gods. The old gods don’t want to be replaced, the new gods want the old gods gone.

Shadow is in prison, he does his time, he keeps his mouth shut and looks forward to leaving prison and going back with his wife. We never learn the whole story of why Shadow is in prison, just that he loves his wife very much. A few days before his release he gets the news that she has been killed in an auto accident. As he travels to home and the funeral he meets up with Mr. Wednesday who hires him and they start driving through America, Mr. Wednesday is a god and he is meeting up with the other gods because there is a storm coming and either the old gods will survive, or the new gods will survive.

This is the main story, but there are many other stories throughout this books. Back stories and side stories, the story of why Shadow went to prison, never fully explained, the story of who Mr. Wednesday’s associates are, the story of Mr. Wednesday and Shadow, and some stories seem to just be thrown in to take up space.

While I enjoyed this book I felt it went on and on. Many of the stories added seemed to be just filler, they didn’t seem to help the story along. In short a good story very masterfully told, Mr. Gaiman takes all the threads he scattered about and brings them together in the end, I just felt the end was too long in coming and there were too many ‘side trips’. ( )
  BellaFoxx | Feb 14, 2015 |
I read this book for my Sci-Fi/Fantasy book club, and I loved it! I have always had a weakness for mythology, and I feel that Gaiman really knows his stuff! I love how he weaves all of these different stories together.

The story is about how the old gods are battling with the new gods in America because people have stopped believing in the old gods, instead turning their attention to new gods such as Media, Technology, etc. Gods derive their power from the number of people who believe in them.

This book was a lot of fun! I am looking forward to re-reading it so that I can relish the details more rather than rushing through because the plot is so enthralling. ( )
  AlbinoRhino | Jan 25, 2015 |
I like Gaiman's - storytelling, I guess. But I just don't care about anything that is happening in this book. And I don't appreciate the stock flatness of the characters. Especially the female characters, who are either crone like, or sexual (and monstrous in that sexuality).

  librarycatnip | Jan 12, 2015 |
Witty, interesting, thought-provoking--chock full o' delicious allusions that make me pat myself on the back for that ol' English major. ( )
  AlisonLea | Jan 10, 2015 |
This one's a true winner. What an epic, glorious, wonderful trip through the world of the gods, both past and new. This is the type of book that you can read over and over again, each time realizing different aspects contained within the main story. I've read other reviews saying this is a great light read. Yes, the book can be read in a light way, just for the fun story. But it's also a very deep book indeed. A book club I belong to here on Goodreads, https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/59543-21st-century-literature, will be talking about "American Gods" in February and I'm very much looking forward to discussing it there. I'm sure they will be seeing things in the book that I missed and I have a feeling I may just have to read the book all over again once our discussion is over, just to pick up on everything that our discussion reveals.

This is a quote from Neil Gaiman of what he wanted to accomplish when he started "American Gods" - and he accomplished his goals completely: "It would be a thriller, and a murder mystery, and a romance, and a road trip. It would be about the immigrant experience, about what people believed in when they came to America, and about what happened to the things that they believed." ( )
  hubblegal | Jan 8, 2015 |
This is the second time I have read this book this year and the third time overall. Each and every time I have seen something new in it or got a new insight out of it. That is the mark of a great book.

The storyline is too complex to delve into a lot of detail but the basics are this: when immigrants came to America they brought their old ways or worship and belief with them from the old countries and continents they left (and the old gods came along for the ride and stayed). The new gods - the American gods - represent ideas that are culturally and uniquely American. The digital age, television,the great roadside attractions, the car and the freeway. A war seems to be brewing in which there will be a showdown between the new gods and the old.

But like all truly great works there are subtexts galore. Ideas about light and dark, good and evil, loyalty and betrayal. Ideas about life and death and the worlds between that we cannot see but that we feel and sometimes enter that hover on the periphery of our conscious life.

Ultimately it is also about belief and faith - do we have it? Did we ever really lose it? If we did how do we get it back?

In the course of reading the novel, I found out HBO is making the book into a new series. My shock and excitement were palpable. This will either be brilliant or a complete disaster. I am hoping HBO does it the justice it has done with the George RR Martin Game of Throne series. My sense is that since Gaiman is a fan of Martin's work and saw how Thrones was handled that he was able to confidently sign off on the idea.

Loved it and will read it again and again and again. ( )
  ozzieslim | Dec 28, 2014 |
This one's a true winner. What an epic, glorious, wonderful trip through the world of the gods, both past and new. This is the type of book that you can read over and over again, each time realizing different aspects contained within the main story. I've read other reviews saying this is a great light read. Yes, the book can be read in a light way, just for the fun story. But it's also a very deep book indeed. I'm very much looking forward to discussing this in a book club I belong to. I'm sure they will be seeing things in the book that I missed and I have a feeling I may just have to read the book all over again once our discussion is over, just to pick up on everything that our discussion reveals.

This is a quote from Neil Gaiman of what he wanted to accomplish when he started "American Gods" - and he accomplished his goals completely: "It would be a thriller, and a murder mystery, and a romance, and a road trip. It would be about the immigrant experience, about what people believed in when they came to America, and about what happened to the things that they believed." ( )
  hubblegal | Dec 25, 2014 |
I don't know if Gaiman just isn't my cup of tea or if I keep finding the books of his that don't work for me. I had to struggle through this book. It was intriguing and Gaiman-weird. But I feel like it didn't go anywhere, that it ended up just being almost a life story with some mystery and I've never been a big fan of 'life stories'. Also some scenes left me wondering why they had been included. After finishing it, I'm mostly confused. There are interesting lessons or messages in the book, which I am beginning to see are part of Gaiman's books, but overall I'm mostly just glad I finished the book. Gaiman is still I reader I will pursue in the future since so many of his books are known, but I will be taking a break from this author for a while. ( )
  Kassilem | Dec 13, 2014 |
entertaining, fatty book, I usually can't make it through them, but this one was just fine!
(great review, I bet you're much smarter about this book now) ( )
  Mrdrewk | Dec 2, 2014 |
Not worthy of my time Too many other "better" works still to be read ( )
  busterrll | Oct 25, 2014 |
This one sent me on a wikipedia adventure - highlights included:

List of confidence tricks
Lion man of the Hohlenstein Stadel
Hypocorism
Durga
The Book of the City of Ladies
Yggdrasil (hey Hyperion!)
Fictional spiders

I like the mechanic that old gods (and the new suits for that matter) exist because people believe they exist, although it opens up the risk of 'anything goes' plot development, which is not my favorite. This was the first thing I read by Gaiman - I'll continue!

( )
  behemothing | Oct 25, 2014 |
This was, quite possilby, the weirdest book I've ever read. I think it was actually a religious sermon hidden in a fiction novel. Would I recommend it? Sure, why not, but I have no idea who I'd recommend it to. It was just that weird. ( )
1 vote trishaj | Oct 7, 2014 |
Maybe it was one of those books you have to read and not audiobook. ( )
  Gonzalo8046 | Sep 29, 2014 |
no idea of what to expect from the backcover description but I was awesomely surprised and enjoyed this book so much. It is well written and the short vignettes between the main story are so interesting and add so much to the novel as a whole. I just found it fascinating and I want more books featuring this world of characters. I would suggest that you have the internet or a pad of paper close at hand. There will be lots of things you may want to look up for more clarification. ( )
1 vote lushrain | Sep 29, 2014 |
This author really knows how to mess up a good story idea. In this book, the new "American gods" of the Media, the Internet, TV, etc. are confronted by the old gods that previous generations brought over from their home countries, like Odin from Scandinavia and Anansi from West Africa. So, a cool idea, but a very boring read full of pointless, weird stuff. ( )
  piersanti | Sep 28, 2014 |
The star rating really ought to be a 1 1/2 or something, because there were some characters and some parts that I really did enjoy, but those were islands of delight in a vast sea of disappointment. I was really looking forward to American Gods. I loved Neverwhere, and though I wasn't expecting a carbon copy, I wasn't expecting quite so much blandness. I'm all for subtle wonders and hidden magic. I'm all for not showing all your cards.

What disappointed me was how boring the protagonist was. His name is Shadow, and he literally seems to take whatever role his environment dictates. This isn't some fascinating look at espionage or magic. The guy just has no personality, seems quite alright to just go with the flow (even when things get crazy), and save for ONE moment in the beginning of the book, and a handful of moments toward the very end, you really feel he's not actually doing anything to affect his situation. He doesn't really do anything for the plot.

There were small "shorts" mixed into the story of what happened to gods and magical beings who were brought to America by those who believed in them. You learn about djinn and piskies. About gods who were made into prostitutes, and African magic. Those parts, sadly, were more interesting than reading about Shadow driving across the states, or him living his small town dream in the ass end of nowhere. Even Wednesday lost his initial charm partway through. Infinitely more fascinating were the other gods they encountered, but they were flashes in the pan most of them, and too soon are we returned to the dragging roadshow that is Shadow and Wednesday's "recruitment" efforts.

There isn't any doubt that Neil Gaiman is a great writer. It's just my feeling that the major themes of: societal evolution suffocating spiritual belief, nature vs. spirituality, the honoring of debts, the power of dreams, American life, the significance of endings and beginnings, and the paths we must forge for ourselves--could have been explored in a more evenly stimulating fashion. With a late bloomer protagonist, the abandoned characters that outshone him, and a plot that could've been a great deal shorter--I stick with my (imagined) rating of 1 1/2 stars. ( )
  Illise_Montoya | Sep 28, 2014 |
Neil Gaiman, if i'm judging him by this book alone, is NOT a good writer. The flubs and thoughtless phrases in his narrative are almost unforgivable considering how popular a writer he is. I'm only on page 100 but I have found about five nonsensical phrases and also find the main character Shadow, along with having a lame name, totally unbelievable. NObody, no matter how stoic, would act like this. So freaking stupid.

BUT, I'll read on. Maybe I'm missing something because I'm focusing on his very bad imitation of Stephen King's narrative style. We'll see. I'm hoping I'm wrong. I really wanted to believe we had someone special to fill in the spaces of the generation now passing: Bradbury, Wolfe, Zelazny, Le Guin. Doesn't look that way so far.

TBC...

Page 200. Still not a good writer, and kind of gross, just to be gross. And his transliteration of someone-with-a-cold dialogue is very, very bad, and unnecessary. Does this guy have an editor, or does he publish his first draft?

TBC...


OK, Gaiman. I'm waiting to be floored by your literary prowess, And you're going to have to do more than stay away from the passive voice.

Characters: There's Shadow = flat and unbelievable
Then there's everyone else = pretty much all the same character. All of whom are in on the plot.

In fact, everyone seems to have all the information needed, except for Shadow, and us, of course. You'd figure SOMEONE would fill him in, at the very least to get the reader invested. But no, this text is meandering, unfocused, inconsequential, and fucking boring. I'm not entertained by your series of imaginative scenes. Yes, I'm sure you can bring it all together somehow with all the skill of a ninth grader, but I'm just not interested. Have you learned nothing about the craft of writing from Harlan Ellison who is you bestest pal?

Bottom line: Gaiman has a fine imagination, but he's a bad writer. Now, maybe he's improved with his subsequent works. I've read many of his short stories and was not impressed, but I didn't think he was bad. Now I think he's bad. Maybe I'll give another book a shot. Maybe not. But this one's getting shelved half-way through. It's too bad. We really do need a modern, young writer we can look up to.

( )
  DanielAlgara | Sep 26, 2014 |
With a fast-paced storyline and unforgettable characters, American Gods is impossible to put down and will leave you wanting more. For the full review, visit The Book Wheel. ( )
  thebookwheel | Sep 16, 2014 |
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