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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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25,38165844 (4.09)12 / 1175
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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4.5 4.75? So close to a 5, but parts of it just . . . Anyways, it was magical and amazing and I'm reccomending it to people left and right already, and want to read it over someday to see what I can catch. It was brilliant, but it was frustrating. In the end, once I talked about it with the friend who lent it to me, it was less frustrating. It was great. It wasn't perfect. But it was great. ( )
  Kristin_Curdie_Cook | Apr 29, 2016 |
I originally heard about Gaiman through his loyal use of fountain pens. He's one of the few writers out there who still write their original drafts in pen and ink, and wrote the entirety of American Gods with a fountain pen. As a fountain pen hobbyist myself, reading Gaiman was a must!

American Gods is a tale that is beautifully told and ripe with mythology. The story takes us to an intricate world where gods, both old and new, roam the earth amongst humans. They love. They hate. They envy. They kill. They heal. They lust for power (and other things). And they can die. The book explores some very thought provoking concepts regarding divinity, and how it possibly may not be as awesome as it may seem. It also critiques much of our modern culture with the ideas and objects that humans now devote much of themselves to (ie: technology). Overall, it's a very enjoyable read. I will probably reread this later, and pick up some other Gaiman novels as well. ( )
  theginman | Apr 23, 2016 |
An expertly written, imaginative road trip through the Midwest, pitting ancient gods (mostly Nordic but Egyptian, Celtic, Slavic, Native American and Hindu deities make occasional appearances) against the American gods of materialism and consumerism, one of which is Lucy Ricardo. What a storyteller [a:Neil Gaiman|1221698|Neil Gaiman|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1234150163p2/1221698.jpg] is! The book bursts with unforgettable (sometimes inscrutable) characters telling wonderful stories and pondering vivid, imagistic dreams, which mostly turn into their realities. How can I resist a main character named Shadow?

Also, I'm bewitched by fiction in which, somewhere around 2/3 of the way through, the author engages in a lyric, passionate digression on some "meaning of life" matter. Gaiman's is on pg. 322 of my edition, and I enjoyed it mightily.

My only caveat is, I'm not sure I like the outcome of the grand battle of the gods!

Being that Gaiman is English, and the book purports to describe American culture, it is entirely fitting that I bought the book in the Nicholas Hoare Bookstore in Toronto, Canada! ( )
  deckla | Apr 5, 2016 |
Efficace, plein d'humour, original et j'aime bcp le personnage de Shadow;
Mélange de magie, d'histoire, de géographie et de culture Us.
J'aime bien cet auteur, un peu le style d'écriture efficace et passe-partout de S.King, avec de la légereté en plus.
Read it a second time and understood it much better great to tell about the failings of humanity! Great book! Fine author! ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 1, 2016 |
A prison convict comes into contact with the present-day iteration of ancient Roman and Greek Gods. Loki makes a devious appearance. The House on the Rock factors in. The ending is satisfying and, I'll admit, a bit surprising. Excellent and enjoyable introduction to Neil Gaiman. My brother-in-law Craig Lambert recommended this book to me; he hasn't steered me wrong yet. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
Gods take a road trip, visit the House on the Rock. ( )
  ChrisPisarczyk | Mar 17, 2016 |
Released from prison, Shadow finds his world turned upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming -- a battle for the very soul of America . . . and they are in its direct path ( )
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
I absolutely love the concept of this novel--that the "gods" of modern life--the internet, etc. are in a battle with the gods of all the religions that traveled to the United States with immigrants as they came into this country. It was a really fantastic read--I have read it at least twice now. ( )
  magerber | Feb 22, 2016 |
...When you get right down to it, I like American Gods as much because of what it isn't as I do because of what it is. It is a book about belief but not religion, a book about a road trip but no celebration of small town life in the American heartland, a book about mythology but no clash of awesome Olympic type gods. Gaiman tackles these themes in his own way. It can be quirky but also tragic, and poetic but also harsh. Many of the ideas in this novel have been used before, by others as well as Gaiman himself, but he manages to mix them in a unique way. American Gods is a remarkable novel whichever way you look at it. Certainly a work that will divide readers but in my opinion a work of twenty-first century literature that one ought to have read.

Full Random Comments review ( )
  Valashain | Feb 21, 2016 |
Great. ( )
  Suusan | Feb 8, 2016 |
American Gods was one hell of a labor of love. I've had the book sitting on my bookshelf ever since it was in talks with the big guns in Hollywood that someone might pick it up. Well, a couple of weeks ago it was confirmed that STARZ got the rights and will be making it into a television series. So I decided it was time to read the book rather then let it keep collecting dust.

I really enjoyed the story, even the stories within the story, the mythology on how "gods" weren't born in America, but traveled over with the people that came here. And how those gods slowly were forgotten and how new gods, created by the age of technological advancement, started taking over. American Gods is deep, heavy, thought provoking. I enjoyed the variety of colorful characters, gods of old (Egyptian, Norse, Biblical, Indian etc.) in disguise as humans and had fun figuring out who they were with the subtle and sometimes not so subtle hints Gaiman dropped along the way. Shadow, the main protagonist, was a very interesting study that I originally thought was kind of dull but ended up becoming a very well rounded character by the end of the novel.

My problem, thus the reason for the 4 star rating, is because, as I stated above, it was a labor of love. There is no doubt that Gaiman is a great storyteller, however, the story got bogged down with tedious details. There were parts I wanted to skip, but then I feared I would miss something big if I did. There were just details within the scenes that could have been cut out. For example, I didn't need to know that someone cooked Shadow bacon and eggs and how it was placed on the plate, and how it was placed on the table and what he poured himself to drink and how he sat down, and how long it took him to eat, etc., etc. Where the hell was his editor?

On the flip side to all the unnecessary details, this will, no doubt, be a great thing for the creators of the television adaptation. They have so many details at their fingertips to work with. I will also say that I look forward to seeing how they bring some scenes to life on screen. My favorite part of the story (slight spoiler) is when Shadow rides on the "World's Largest Carousel" and some of the magical creatures that are on this Carousel come to life. How are they going to show him riding a griffin? Or how will they portray some of the gods in their natural form, such as Ganesha (Hindu god, half elephant, half man) or the Egyptian gods Horus & Anubis? I definitely can't wait to see how they make these things come to life!

American Gods is a unique tale of gods, those that have been forgotten and those who are fighting not to be. If you have a nice chunk of time set aside to get lost in a story, I definitely recommend it. Even better, this may be worth an audiobook listen. Rest those eyes and let someone else take you on the journey. ( )
  themusescircle | Feb 6, 2016 |
As with all Neil Gaiman books, I began reading without a peek at the description or reviews. Because his writing is a journey with twists and turns - best to go in and enjoy the ride. In the beginning, I tried to figure out with the plot was. But then I gave it up and just let the story go where it may. I'm not even sure I can describe it well if I tried, so I'll just say it was a great read! The story is so much more than I expected. ( )
  bell96 | Feb 2, 2016 |
I was told this was the best of Gaiman's books, and from those I've read I would agree. Great characters, lots to ponder after finished reading, an altogether delightful book. ( )
  KathyGilbert | Jan 29, 2016 |
Reads like a graphic novel translated into prose. I'm not sure why the title is American Gods-evidently the American Gods are the media, commerce, etc. The Old World Gods don't seem so deserving of reverence either. ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |
This is one of my favourite books of all time. I can see how it may be less interesting to one who is not as interested with mythology as I am, but to me the story at the core of this book is fascinating, the things it has to say about cultural heritage, storytelling, and their parts within the human experience are eye opening, and the characters are a delight. Its a strange book, with a strange structure, and mini stories called coming to america sprinkled throughout. But to me every part was engaging. I feel this should be required reading for students, based upon its masterful treatment of gods and their place in modern society. ( )
  John_Juliano | Jan 23, 2016 |
Shadow is released from jail after finding out that his wife had died in a car accident. Soon he is offered a job from a mysterious man, Mr. Wednesday. Thus begins a magical roadtrip through middle America and dying mythology. I really enjoyed reading this book. I find all the different gods and mythology very interesting and I could tell that Gaiman did a lot of research. After reading the book, I am interested in finding more information on a lot of the gods and characters that made an appearance in the book. I enjoyed the way the book ended too. It was not at all what I was expecting. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 13, 2016 |
This is one weird book. It`s a battle between good and bad. there are Gods,living dead not only is there a battle between the gods but also the main character Shadow battle with his conscience. Well written, colorful characters you either love this one or not but it`s an interesting read. ( )
  dom76 | Jan 8, 2016 |
Neil Gaiman is magnificent. This THE best book I've ever read to date. My friends have been telling me about it for years and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long. I've read most of his other works and loved them all, will be starting Anasasi Boys here shortly and must say this is my favorite, even over Neverwhere, which was my favorite for a looooong time. Neil YOU a god.I suck at writing reviews (clearly as this has told you nothing abou the book), but I never write them so just the fact I wrote this says something about how much this book meant to me. READ IT. That's all I can say. ( )
  faerychikk | Jan 5, 2016 |
Loved the idea, enjoyed the writing and the characters. The actual story was meh. The pacing was bad. Chapters felt longer than it needed to be thanks to ~15 page "Coming to America" side stories about characters and events that have no effect on the story. These sections always popped up when the book finally managed to hook me in and really took me out of the story.

My favorite parts of the book happened in Lakeside where it mostly abandons fantasy and gods in favor of relationship building and a little mystery.

What's the point of certain gods gaining power? None of them did anything with the power they had. Exception for an old man. ( )
  TheBlackYeti | Jan 4, 2016 |
Good but not great, I prefer Gaiman when he is being a little lighter and little funnier. ( )
  CatherineJay | Dec 30, 2015 |
I am not so familiar with the urban fantasy sub genre, I read a few Sookie Stackhouse books and one Dresden Files book, they are readable but they did not hook me into following their series. Neil Gaiman is a very different kind of fantasy author, there is a peculiarly whimsical tone to his narrative which I find very pleasant. American Gods is his best known novel, though his best known work may be the Sandman graphic novels (which I have not read). Deliberately meandering (the author says so in the Forward) the book is nevertheless immensely readable thanks to the author's literary yet whimsical (that word again) prose style, even the slow moving passages where nothing much seem to be happening are a breeze to read.

The story is essentially about gods in America, taken at face value it is an entertaining road trip through a fantastical world where gods are created by faith rather than the other way around. The narrative is mostly from the point of view of the protagonist Shadow who seems to go through life with excessive equanimity. None of the supernatural goings-on seem to surprise him throughout the book in spite of the increasing outlandishness of events. Some people I have talked to find him too bland or too much of a blank slate, I personally find him quite likable, especially with his fondness for coin tricks. Better still, the cast of characters are generally a weird and wonderful bunch, like you would find in a Dickens novel but weirder. Special mention must go to the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday and the even more enigmatic supervillain Mr. World. Less weird (but still weird) is Laura, Shadow's zombie wife who is not interested in devouring flesh or brains, only the welfare of her husband and going back to being a real girl again. She is the book's most sympathetic character, and also quietly, discreetly and politely badass when she needs to take action.

The aforementioned (too frequently mentioned) whimsical prose style makes reading the book a little like dreaming sometime, I was happy to drift along with it in no great hurry (took me almost two weeks to finish it due to lack of time). The book that follows this one [b:Anansi Boys|2744|Anansi Boys (American Gods, #2)|Neil Gaiman|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327870211s/2744.jpg|1007964] is tighter, faster paced and funnier. Still, this one is well worth a read. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
This was the second time I have read this book, it's simply one of my favorite books of all time. It's been named on many of the "best of" science-fiction book lists, and there are so many reasons why it should be. This is just a well-written piece of fiction, that opens up so many interesting religious and spiritual questions. ( )
  novaengliae | Dec 20, 2015 |
American Gods was all I'd hoped it would be and more.

5 stars

A few of my favorite quotes/passages:

A conversation between Shadow and Mr. Ibis, "You people talk about the living and the dead as if they were two mutually exclusive categories. As if you cannot have a river that is also a road, or a song that is also a color (480)."

Shadow when standing before Anubis, "We do not always remember the things that do no credit to us. We justify them, cover them in bright lies or with the thick dust of forgetfulness (482)."

A conversation between Shadow and Bast, "Maybe," he said. "Maybe I can get some kind of a happy ending."

"Not only are there no happy endings," she told him, "there aren't even any endings." (483)

A conversation between Shadow and Whiskey Joe, "So, yeah, my people figured that maybe there's something at the back of it all, a creator, a great spirit, and so we say thank you to it, because it's always good to say thank you. But we never built churches. We didn't need to. The land was the church. The land was the religion. The land was older and wiser than the people who walked on it. It gave us salmon and corn and buffalo and passenger pigeons. It gave us wild rice and walleye. It gave us melon and squash and turkey. And we were the children of the land, just like the porcupine and the skunk and the blue jay (513)." ( )
  flying_monkeys | Dec 9, 2015 |
America is a land to which the old world flocked whole hog - religions, deities, gods and superstitions included. But America is 'a bad land for gods,' and none of them have the power they used to. A widowed ex-con meets some of these gods and follows them on a bizarre and nightmarish road trip to a final battle between the old gods and the new.

A deeply original (if heavy-handed) book that might have worked better as a short story or series of short stories - my favorite chapters were the standalones about forgotten, obscure deities and the 'nobodies' who brought them to America. The overarching narrative was curiously mundane, even if it did have plenty of steam towards the end.

A powerful experience, but overreaches its grasp. Not quite up to the simple pure nightmare fantasy of 'Neverwhere' or concise focus of 'Coraline'. ( )
2 vote ddueck88 | Dec 7, 2015 |
Just the characters make this a worthy read. I wont even go into the plot. Need to read more from Neil. ( )
  Jaskier | Dec 1, 2015 |
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