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American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman

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

by Neil Gaiman

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24,83163844 (4.09)12 / 1160
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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Maybe I just tried to read this at the wrong time in my life but I could not get involved in the story. I liked Shadow as a character but there were too many interstitial pieces about ancient gods, etc. that, for me, interfered with the flow of the narrative. I can understand why Gaiman fans loved it but I preferred Anansi Boys and Neverwhere. ( )
1 vote bookappeal | Nov 13, 2015 |
I loved it. ( )
  Irena. | Nov 3, 2015 |
someone gave me the new 10th anniversary edition, and I haven't read it since it originally came out and I don't know if it's just the sort of book that needs to be reread to be properly appreciated or if it's the nearly 12,000 extra words restored from an earlier draft, but I went from, 'yeah, I liked that,' to 'that is a brilliant piece of work.' It's a great novel, period, and I did not want it to come to an end. A great companion piece to Sandman, too, oddly enough, playing variations on themes and characters touched on there. This also includes the terrific novella Monarch Of The Glen as an extra, and now I'm really looking forward to the sequel. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
I find it really weird how many American media products have the word "American" in the title. Obviously, this; a few weeks back I also read American Rust. You've got your American Beauty, American Ninja, An American Werewolf in London. American Psycho. American Sniper. American Pie, American Dad, American Graffiti. What is going on here, what are they trying to prove?? I really don't understand it. I mean you'd never get "British Beauty", "French Psycho", would you? That just seems completely laughable.

Anyway, I really didn't get this book. It made no sense to me at all. I mean it's a fun conceit, that gods are living among men in modern day America, desperate to regain the faith they once commanded, but I just felt like it wasn't thought through properly. It presents itself as being predicated on the idea that ‘America is a bad land for gods’ – this is something that characters keep saying to one another, moodily, that America is a really bad land for gods – and this is apparently why all the gods are now living hand-to-mouth existences as drifters or menial labourers.

Only – huh? Are we talking about the same America here? The one where 51 percent of the population think that humans were created by a divine being, and a further 40 percent think they were created by evolution which was set in motion by a divine being (leaving, as Tim Minchin said, a very small percentage of Americans who are right)? Is that the America that is supposed to be a bad land for gods? Do me a favour, it must be one of the most religious countries in the western world. I've driven through my share of rural Tennessee, where much of American Gods takes place, and one of the most striking things about these communities is the fact that there seems to be one church for every six or seven houses. God is invoked on the currency, on the news, by the head of state, and in schoolrooms every morning by little kids.

This is what is so frustrating about the book, because it seems like a brilliant chance to examine religion in the US in a cool and interesting way – but it doesn't. It either doesn't dare or it doesn't bother. I mean – if you're going to run with this idea that gods are walking around, with the more powerful deities being those who have the most believers, then where the fuck is Yahweh? I'm supposed to believe that Anubis is twatting around driving a hearse in fucking Cairo, IL. – despite the fact that no one in the history of America has ever worshipped Anubis – and yet Jesus doesn't make a single appearance? Somehow it's OK to play around with foreign gods that seem quaint or folkloric, but monotheism's off the table. It just didn't make any sense to me.¹

Instead, what we have to propel the narrative along is just a kind of comic-book war that we're supposed to care about. So although there were quite a few scenes that had me flipping the pages with engagement, there was always this nagging feeling that none of it really meant anything and that I didn't really care very much what happened to anyone. It doesn't help that the protagonist (with the dreadful name of ‘Shadow Moon’) is, for a central character, annoyingly passive and lacking in personality (although the goddesses he encounters still have a remarkable habit of wanting to have sex with him).

As for the writing style, well, it's fine, but it has absolutely no flair. There's quite an interesting bit in the Acknowledgements where Gaiman thanks many of his beta-readers and editors for spotting ‘stray and unintentional anglicisms’, presumably so he could remove them; this I think is something that contributes to the featureless blandness of his style. I'm not saying he is unentitled to this voice or anything like that – his wife is American, he lives in America, this is totally an authentic voice for him. It's just not one that has any character. It works in a kind of tab-A-into-slot-B way.

This is certainly not a bad book and it's quite readable – I think I'm just disappointed because I had unfairly high hopes, and I liked the concept, and I have a lot of friends who really enjoyed it. For me it was just a bit baffling and cartoony. In the same way that His Dark Materials is like a children's story for grown-ups, American Gods felt like an adult story for children. This is my third Neil Gaiman book (after Sandman and Smoke and Mirrors) and they have all been underwhelming; I think I'll just leave him alone now, since I'm sure they deserve higher ratings than I'm prepared to give them, but that's what you get when I try and squeeze in a review at 01:23 am in a foreign city when I still have another two hours' work to do before I can go to bed.

¹This "Tenth Anniversary Edition" includes in its appendices a brief section in which Jesus does, in fact make a brief appearance. This was cut from the original published version, and you can see why; it is very short and it raises more questions than it answers. The problem is, these are the questions the book should have been about. ( )
1 vote Widsith | Oct 5, 2015 |
Loved this book. Read the 10th anniversary edition. The audio version, full cast recording. ( )
  Big_Blue | Sep 29, 2015 |
Welcome to yet another BOTM club analysis. Sometimes I am forced to read a book that drags and makes me pull my hair out to read, but this month is a winner. Where have I been that I missed a) this book and b) this author. American Gods is my favorite type of book one that takes something we think we know (in this case the classic myths) and adds a new twist. I loved this read, even though my comments are taking a little bit to post because I had mommy duties get in the way.
American Gods is a strange road-trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American belief system. The main character Shadow gets out of prison early when his wife is killed in a car crash. Shadow then takes up with a mysterious character called Mr. Wednesday, who is much more than he appears. Together they travel America rounding up forgotten Gods in preparation for an epic battle against the upstart deities of the Internet, credit cards, television, and all that is wired. Armed only with some coin tricks and a sense of purpose, Shadow travels through, around, and underneath the visible surface of things, digging up all the powerful myths Americans brought with them in their journeys to this land as well as the ones that were already here.
I think the Gods exist because of our faith, but they are tied to our Faith and as it fails and fades so do they. Let’s look at the new Gods, the television was created, people began to take time out of their day to watch it, i.e. worship it, and the TV god was created. She remains strong because people spend hours watching it every day. The Technology god seems computer based, and so let’s says he was created with the first computer. Look at how much we rely on our computers, we use them at home and work constantly, and become more dependent on them every day. We have faith that they will work, and will allow us to do our work faster so we can have more free time to do things like worship the TV god. Of them all that we haven't met I think the most powerful new god would be the internet god, it is everywhere, on our computer, our phones, our gaming systems. In fact I bet if this book was written now, there would be a Facebook god.
The first section is introducing us to the characters and getting the story of the new vs. old Gods set up. The second section of the book seemed a little ho hum. The running around and getting the gods on board with the plan just seemed like filler. The third section moved along much better, the war and the conclusion felt very solid.
I like Gaiman’s style of writing from the start – easy flow of the narrative. When I do sit down to read, the pages have just flown by and I’m way further in the story than it feels like. What does slow me down is writing down who the gods are and looking them up, if I was more disciplined I would have waited until the end of the reading to look them up, but then I think I would have missed some of the innuendos Gaiman put in, such as Odin being called Mr. Wednesday. I won’t list all my research here, because it would take up way too much time and room. All I will say is I am having lots of fun with it! Also I am loving all the quote potentials in this book, most of my notes are “quote – pg. blah blah” LOL I won’t bore you all with my notes on that front either.
I do want to make a comment on Mr. Wednesday, strangely, I have a mental picture of my high school drama teacher with red hair and I have no idea why, but as I read about him that is who I see. Although somehow I missed that Mr. Wednesday had only one eye until Chapter 4.
I like that Shadow’s last name is moon. I thought maybe he was a hidden hero from a myth, but when I looked him up all I could get was a reference to Japanese film Character from the Kamen Rider series and a book by Chris Claremont and George Lucas. The book was the continuation of the movie Willow (The Chronicles of the Shadow War), which makes me happy to know about and I will be looking to read the series, but still leaves me a little unfulfilled. I feel like with a great name of Shadow Moon there should be some mythological reference, like the shadow of the moon is where the Gods reside or something. Drat!
Shadow is special to the old Gods because of his acceptance, he doesn't fight against Mr. Wednesday and the things he see, he just accepts that is the way the world is and that I think gives the Old Gods a power, not as much power as belief and worship, but he still accepts them. I think that if the new Gods had reached out to Shadow first, I think he would have worked for the opposition; he doesn't have a stand besides getting paid. Again I think that is a part of what makes Shadow special, his acceptance, he accepted the old gods and he accepts the new gods, and he doesn’t take sides.
I have mixed feelings about Shadow and his dead wife Laura, who happens to be a walking corpse. Shadow talked to her 5 days before he was to be released and they exchanged “I love you’s.” Which is great and all because he got to tell her that before she died, and she did say that she wasn’t going to leave Shadow for Robbie. But still she was a cheater, I mean she died giving another guy a blow job, so leave poor Shadow alone already. I know that she is coming back because of Mad Sweeny’s coin, although I’m not a hundred percent sure why. But anyways back to Laura’s death, I find it interesting that Shadow had made up this whole story about Robbie being drunk, and in actuality he had it all backwards, Laura was the drunken one. It is like Shadow had his life with Laura backwards, I wonder if what he remembers ties to the reality of their relationship. And how does Laura follow him? I mean is this dead woman walking the highways following her husband, or does she manifest wherever he is? I think Shadow wants to bring Laura back because he feels it is his fault she is there. He thinks it has something to do with Mad Sweeney’s coin. And also, there was something in the first section after he talked to Zorya Polunchnayay about listening to the Dead and it is important to give them what they ask for, but I can’t find the passage. I don’t think he should do it, I think it will mess with the balance of the world, although he isn’t given the option he just kills her by taking back the coin in the end, so no balance upsets here.
What is up with all the coins being given: Low Key Lysmith, gives Shadow the coin he uses for all his coin tricks; Mad Sweeney gives him the coin that brings Laura back from the dead, Zorya Polunchnayay gives him a Silver Liberty Coin – Moon which is the moon. I am sure that there is a theme here that I have missed somehow, or that will be explained later, but all I seem to have noticed that Shadow collects coins not just does tricks with them.
And finally something that is mundane but really bothers me, isn’t Shadow on probation, I mean he just got out of prison early he should be and if so doesn’t he need to check in with his probation officer, and he couldn’t be traveling so much if he is on probation, to many permissions needed to go places. I mean I know it is fiction, but it just glares at me every time Shadow hits a new town. Which is why in Lakeside when Shadow got busted for skipping parole I did find it a little justifying; I even said out loud “I told you so!” Not my finest moment, but it still felt good to know Gaiman didn’t just forget the parole factor.
Although, I do really like all of Mr. Himzelman’s tall tales. Lakeside reminded me of the town from Gilmore Girls, very close knit and quirky in an idyllic setting, but instead of Luke’s they have Mabel’s. I think there is more to Lakeside and the disappearing children, but it seems like that should be a different story almost, it just didn’t fit well with me. I would read a book about the mystery of the Lakeside missing children, but it didn’t fit with this story. Mr. Himzelman being a kobold, or whatever he is did surprise me, I didn’t see that one coming at all. And I really liked his character too, I felt very betrayed.
Again this whole section felt like filler to me rather than moving the story along. I really felt like there must be more to Sam Black Crow, she didn’t seem as random as I thought she was as the hitchhiker. Although I was sad to find out that she really wasn’t all that important in the end.
In the third section when it talked about the Gods camped at lookout rock seemed a little jumbled to me, but I think that was because the Gods are half-forgotten and jumbled anyways. Also they are a very disorganized crew.
At the start of part 3, I went back to the first section and refreshed my memory of Mr. Wednesday and Shadow’s bargain. Mr. Wednesday would take care of Shadows needs and Shadow would:
Protect Mr. Wednesday.
2. Transport Mr. Wednesday.
3. Run errands for Mr. Wednesday.
4. Hurt people for Mr. Wednesday, emergency situations only.
5. Hold a vigil for Mr. Wednesday.
It was the vigil that made me look it up; I wanted to know if the section talked anymore about the vigil. It didn’t I did see that Mr. Wednesday said “in the unlikely event of my death” when he made the bargain, it wasn’t an unlikely event. Mr. Wednesday knew full well that he was going to die. So if the bargain was made under false pretenses, did it null the bargain? How was Shadow supposed to protect Mr. Wednesday, if Mr. Wednesday had already planned his own death?
I looked up Louise Brooks, just because I wanted to know if she was real, apparently she was the iconic flapper from the 20’s and her signature was the bob haircut. She worked in silent films, and I recognized her picture, she also did one of the first lesbian scenes in a movie. Who knew that silent films could be so controversial? I feel like I should see if I can find one of her movies on TMC or Netflix or something, just to see what all the hype is about.
The fact that the whole war was a two man con thing, it didn't really surprise me, but I didn't predict it either. And we had definite foreshadowing of it. Mr. Wednesday was right, that his death did more for the cause than his life had. Mr. Wednesday did say it would take him 9 days to come back, 3 days in the tree, 3 days in the underworld, and 3 days to find his way back. That seems a little excessive, jeez Christ only took 3 days total to be resurrected. And how long was Shadow hanging in the tree? 9 days or years?
I liked the death of shadow, the journey was great, we got lots of stuff cleared up and answered. One thing that stuck with me was when Bast took his heart; it was the color or pigeon blood. Am I missing something, is pigeon blood a different color than other types of blood? I just feel like it was a weird simile, why pigeon blood? Oh and the squirrel, what was the point of the squirrel? So which way do we think Bast sent Shadow? The way that makes him wise or the way that makes him whole? I think he went the way that killed him, I mean he did die and all. Did Shadow become a Shadow, is that the result of him giving up his true name or the result of him taking the middle path?
Shadow being Mr. Wednesday's son didn't faze me either, again not surprised but didn’t predict either. I did have to look up the part where Mr. Wednesday said "Unfortunately for the most part people like me fire blanks....nowadays it’s possible, but so unlikely as to be almost unimaginable." So I guess we had foreshadowing, hehe fore shadowing. Sorry couldn’t help myself.
In the epilogue I was confused as to why Shadow was in Iceland, but I think it has to do with his powers. He made the Lakeside Sherriff, Chad forget what happened with Himzelman, then he gave Sam the flowers and she never saw him. I think he did become somewhat of a shadow.
Another thing I noticed was that when Laura killed Low Key that she said, “I dedicate this death to Shadow.” Low Key was supposed to say “I dedicate this battle to Odin” so they could absorb the power from the battle. I think he still did. But what does that mean for Shadow, because Laura dedicated the death to him, is he some semi-demi-god that could absorb Loki’s death power?
Overall I really like this book I was very excited to discover this author and I would defiantly recommend it as a read, just have your Google handy.
On separate side note, for those of you who do research, I was able to download a free version of the Histories of Herodotus from www.classics.mit.edu. This is the book from prison that Low Key gave to Shadow.
For additional reviews please see my blog at www.adventuresofabibliophile.blogspot.com
  Serinde24 | Sep 27, 2015 |

Still love this book on the re-read. In many ways it can be read as a sequel of sorts to the graphic novels about the endless. I am sure I even spotted Delirium in a cameo.

Having grown up in Norway, I felt the portrayal of the norse pantheon was a bit off-kilter to the one I have been brought up with. None of the Norse entities resonated in a way that felt right. As if they were written about by someone who had never really met them. Which is true, but very forgivable.

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1 vote StigE | Sep 15, 2015 |
An epic story, funny and packed with action. Would give it 5 stars if not for too many graphic sex scenes and LGBT themes for a story where they don't seem to be the main subject. It's like adding some zebras to a cavalry battle painting because hey, zebras are so underrepresented in art. And making sure there are big horse genitals visible in front because sex sells. ( )
  valdanylchuk | Aug 26, 2015 |
I read this for WPL's book club. One of the other readers found it slow going, and was in fact stuck in the middle section. Her complaint was that "nothing happens." Given the ending, one might have that complaint: not much has changed by the end. And given that there is a plot involving conspiracies, secret groups, and cons, that may slow the plotting. What pulled me along was guessing the identity of the gods/mythical/legendary beings as they were being introduced. I was irritated that the Norse gods were used as the matrix for the narrative and that Native American legends were mostly background. Being from Massachusetts, I was in fact angered by the inclusion of Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman: 1) in that he was legendary and 2) that his speech was all wrong and 3) that he shows up in a Western setting. I was also bothered by the predominance of sexualized goddesses/mythical figures: Eostre, Bilquis, Bast, one of the Zorya sisters, rusalki, etc. Granted, many goddesses/mythical figures had that aspect, but there were many who didn't, and of the gods/male figures used in the book, very few have that role highlighted. My final complaint is that at points the figures mentioned are a messy collection: it suffers from pulling from both myth and folklore -- the two are not the same. The book does make a nice use of place and roadside America; I would use this in either a mythology or folklore class. ( )
  AmyMacEvilly | Aug 13, 2015 |
Dark, gritty and full of suspense, not to mention how fun it was to discover the various gods as Shadow, the main character, weaves his way through a complicated and detailed plot. The full-cast audio version is well worth listening to, and adds a new level of depth to the story. Gaiman, as always, is the master of myth, this time tackling the complicated matter of myth's role in the New World, and providing an interesting theory of how the gods of old might attempt to remain relevant in the modern world. ( )
  WritingHaiku | Jul 28, 2015 |
A very long and complex novel about the coming war between the old (and mostly forgotten) gods and characters of folklore and the new gods of technology. Hard to explain without giving up too much, but if you stick with the read, it's a compelling look at culture, history, and people. ( )
  Randall.Hansen | Jul 18, 2015 |
American Gods is a long and complex book, a book where the reader's interpretation is as important as the story itself. There's a war coming, between the old gods and the new gods of technology. Religion is at the core of this novel, through both history and philosophy. I can't imagine a reader who doesn't have an opinion on that.

I listened to the audio of the 10th anniversary special edition. It's extremely well done, with a cast of readers. I would recommend this version, but with a couple of caveats. First, there are a large number of obscenities, especially in the beginning. It would not be appropriate to listen when small children are near. Secondly, the readers bring their own interpretations to the novel, so the audio can push a reader in a direction he or she might not have gone.

The story is about Shadow, a man who is just coming out of a three year stint in prison which he earned in a barroom fight over his wife, Laura. Circumstances limit Shadow's options and connect him with a strange character who calls himself Wednesday. Through this connection Shadow meets a series of people and gods who are choosing sides. Many odd things happen during the course of Shadow's journey. They can all be explained after some thought. I think this novel is best for people who enjoy that process.

Shadow's story is the main plot of the novel, but Neil Gaiman included a number of back stories of gods and the people who worship them. These seemed out of place at times, because I wasn't ready for a break from Shadow. But they made sense in the long run.

There are references to Christianity in the text, but no more than any other religion. When the god Easter plays a role in the story, this is the pagan Easter from which the Christian holiday took its name. The religions emphasized the most seem to be from Native American traditions.

American Gods is a perfect book to discuss after reading, so it would be a good choice for a book club.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Jul 16, 2015 |
4/5 stars
I post all my reviews to athroneofbooks.booklikes.com

This book was an adventure, filled with so much going on at once it took me much longer than the average book to get through. It’s a book riddled with crazy characters, humorous dialogue, and surprises that were well thought out by Gaiman. It’s one of those books where I felt rewarded in the end and I will think about for quite a while after finishing. I think this is one you owe it to yourself to read and love, so I’m not going into much detail in the review. I will however share some of my favorite quotes below because this book had some gems:
“You shine like a beacon in a dark world.”
“The really dangerous people believe that they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous.”
Fiction allows us to slip into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives. ( )
  MarandaNicole | Jul 15, 2015 |
This is a big book with a lot going on. This book has received many awards ranging in category from horror (The Bram Stoker Award) to Sci-Fi (Nebula) and through to the World Fantasy Awards. That in itself is a fine example of the various genres this book encompasses, so I don’t even know how to begin to summarize it in a few sentences for a review.

It starts off as a simple story of our hero, Shadow, waiting for his release from prison at the end of the week. He is looking forward to seeing his wife and starting his real life again but cannot shake the feeling that there “was a storm coming” and “something bad is going to happen”. Before his day is over both these feelings prove more than prophetic. He is released from prison a few days early because his wife has been killed in a car crash. During his flight home a real storm jostles the plane and his seat partner … we’ll call him Mr. Wednesday … recruits Shadow to be his (for lack of a better word) bodyguard. Mr. Wednesday turns out to be a little more than human and soon Shadow is drawn into a battle between those ancient gods transported to America with their immigrant believers but now mostly forgotten about and the new crop of gods quickly gaining strength through their worshippers (commerce, sex, technology and money).

I enjoyed the premise of the book. I love Mr. Gaiman’s writing. I like the rambling road trip format of the story. Admittedly it was sometimes frustrating to begin to like a location and its populace only to be savagely ripped from there to another location. Definitely makes the reader empathize with Shadow. However, as much as I liked all those things about the book there came a point when all the rambling, which had previously made some sort of sense, totally lost direction for me.

I have to admit that if I had been reading it rather than listening to it on audio I may not have persisted to the last page.
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  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
I read the author's preferred 10th edition of the book.
Brief synopsis,

Shadow (recently released from prison has nothing to go home to) is offered a job by a mysterious man named Wednesday. Very quickly Shadow is whisked away into an underground group of gods brought over from Europe, India, Africa, etc. And these gods are finding themselves on the verge of extinction as new gods of our age (media, technology, etc) are gunning for the hearts and "faith" of the people of America; but Wednesday has a plan. WAR!!!!!!!!!!!

I absolutely loved this book. I thought that Neil Gaiman did a fantastic job in making me fall in love with the characters. They were funny, entertaining, provocative, raunchy, well-meaning, deep, and from the start the characters were anything but two dimensional words on paper. I gave the book a 4 1/2 because to me a 5 means that I would change nothing about the book and while it was a phenomenal page-turner there were things that I wish were different. There were characters I was introduced to that I wanted to know more about (particularly a homosexual Ifirit or goddess who literally ate people with her vagina)- and never heard from again. I understand that though because there was so much going on that it would have been very difficult to introduce more characters than there were, but they had caught my attention and curiosity and just would have liked to know more. I also felt like I had good closure and while the author felt the need to tidy up every detail, I didn't find it tedious or time wasting. ( )
  wkeblejr | Jul 14, 2015 |
Did not finish. Crass and vulgar. What a disappointment.
1 vote RobinLythgoe | Jul 6, 2015 |
I very much enjoyed this book. Neil Gaiman has had a good time laying out the build-up to a horrendous shoot-out between the Gods imported into the Americas by all these immigrants. But they need to know who will be the successful interlopers and who will not be. Being in the USA the method of choice is the shoot-out, which t apparently is done on a hillside behind a diner in Northwest Georgia.
There's a great deal of carnage and no one's sure who's won. It's interesting that though the real Gods of North America appear in this novel, only the immigrant one's appear at the show-down. Are they being softened up before the final? A very good time was had with this book. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jun 20, 2015 |
A gripping mythology painted in an identifiable Midwestern palette. Breathes life into the histories and memories of small towns and amplifies these to epic proportions. House on the Rock, mentioned herein, is a must see. Plenty of room left for a sequel. ( )
  albertgoldfain | May 25, 2015 |
Very long but because I liked Shadow I kept going. It's like being in a non stop dream/nightmare. I was drained when I finished it. I think I'm done with Neil for the moment. I need to let my mind float on some happy clouds for a while. ( )
  whybehave2002 | May 22, 2015 |
American Gods is to mythology and folklore as a Tarantino movie is to old westerns and Kung Fu films. Gaiman is clearly an expert on his topics, creating a multi-layered story in which Shadow, just released from prison as the story begins, is drawn into the employ of a man who knows more than is humanly possible and is working on a mysterious project involving all of the old gods-- kept alive, but with waning power, as long as they are remembered. As the gods of technology and business quickly rise and fall, the storm that the gods, old and new, sense continues to draw nearer. Gaiman creates a fully realized world; one in which prison inmates read Herodotus, there are plots within plots as independent immortal beings each have their own slightly different goals, and the scholarly reader can find hundreds of allusions, references, or nods to various cultures, histories, mythologies, and tales.
Chapters of the novel often open with stories of other people in other times, and Gaiman’s prowess as a writer comes through in his thought provoking tales, tangents, and anecdotes. As with a Tarantino film, for genre enthusiasts this proves to be an incredible work, a masterpiece by a creator whose love and enthusiasm for the folklore, the style (often a Kerouac reminiscent roadtrip), and the medium shine through on every page. ( )
  Ailinel | May 1, 2015 |
I can't figure out why people like this. There were so many things to not like--Shadow's wife is at the top of my list. And I normally like Neil Gaiman. It was too long and too weird and I wasn't sure what was going on and I didn't really care. ( )
  KR_Patterson | Apr 28, 2015 |
Wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I enjoyed the slow burn pace of the story. Still looking for a story that evokes Lord Byron's Darkness in atmosphere. I didn't enjoy this as much as Neverwhere.
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  StaticBlaq | Apr 26, 2015 |
For a GR group read. Oh my. Took me a long time - and at that, I'm sure I missed a lot of depth. It'd be a good book for an intellectual to carry bumming around the hostels, reading & re-reading, talking about to other travellers, learning more and more about all the different gods and philosophies offered. Sometimes it got a little wordy and could've been edited to be a bit tighter - but other times it was elliptical and confusing. Somewhat gruesome, but not too bad - though because of unwholesome sex I'd not advise it for virgins or anyone under 18. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
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 |
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