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American Gods (2001)

by Neil Gaiman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: American Gods (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
30,12481968 (4.08)12 / 1445
Shadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she's been killed in a terrible accident. Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible. He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming. And from that moment on, nothing will ever he the same.… (more)
Recently added byArina42, private library, mrshen, MsKalita, cryforjudas, Lite_Rati, VannySage
  1. 260
    Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman (Anonymous user, moonstormer)
    Anonymous user: It's a great collection all around but the kicker is this collection includes a novella about Shadow a couple years after the events of American Gods
    moonstormer: Fragile Things contains a short story with the same character as is in American Gods. Both are highly recommended.
  2. 252
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (WilliamPascoe)
    WilliamPascoe: Phenominally brilliant fantasy .
  3. 232
    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (infiniteletters)
  4. 100
    Fables, Vol. 01: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (sbuehrle)
  5. 111
    Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (citygirl)
    citygirl: When the supernatural collides with modern life. One in Moscow, one in the US.
  6. 177
    Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the necessity of belief.
  7. 102
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (klarusu)
    klarusu: The same sense of unreality layered over a real-world setting, the same undercurrent of humour but this time it's the Devil that lands in Moscow
  8. 81
    Last Call by Tim Powers (grizzly.anderson, MyriadBooks)
    grizzly.anderson: Both are about old world gods making their place in the new world.
    MyriadBooks: For aspiring to win in a bargain with gods.
  9. 94
    The Stand {1978} by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  10. 72
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (bertyboy)
    bertyboy: Alternative London for alternative fantasy. Have a go!
  11. 61
    King Rat by China Miéville (Runkst)
  12. 117
    The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (WoodsieGirl)
  13. 62
    Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones (guyalice)
    guyalice: Neil Gaiman was surprised to discover that the concept of Eight Days of Luke was very similar to what he had initially planned for the plot of American Gods. He dropped the day-theme to avoid too many similarities and gave props to Wynne Jones.
  14. 40
    The Wood Wife by Terri Windling (Larkken)
  15. 30
    Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint (MyriadBooks)
  16. 52
    Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore (andomck)
    andomck: Religion, realism, fantasy, humor, low brow, etc. Makes sense to me.
  17. 30
    The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (sturlington)
    sturlington: The Bone Clocks reminded me strongly of Neil Gaiman and David Mitchell has said that Gaiman was an influence.
  18. 30
    Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  19. 41
    Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Chricke)
  20. 52
    The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson (rockhopper_penguin)
    rockhopper_penguin: I read these two books one after another. It wasn't a deliberate decision, but the two did seem to work well together. The books visit a few of the same places, and it's interesting to note how differently they are portrayed in each.

(see all 46 recommendations)


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Showing 1-5 of 793 (next | show all)
I love Neil Gaiman ordinarily but somehow he managed to make this book sort of boring, although it starts off very intriguing and hooks you in not long into the story I was sick with boredom and it felt like a chore to trudge through. ( )
  literarylifelines | May 13, 2021 |
I had a hard time finding out why I don't like this book. I think I finally have.
The writing is really good and very entertaining, as are the insights into different people's lives. What I enjoyed most were the chapters with the personal stories of all the gods.
I did not care much about the main story, nor about Shadow. Although most of the book is written from his perspective, I never really got a feeling for him as a character, most of the time it seemed he was just there so somebody could tell the story of the gods. But for this, there are too many chapters focusing on Shadow which are, because of his lack of character, boring. Maybe Americans can relate more to the 'small American town live' chapters and therefore find them less boring.

I would love to read a short story collection of just the gods' tales, because there were great, original ideas in them, told entertainingly. ( )
  ImaginarySpace | May 3, 2021 |
As lame as this sounds, there's simply not enough positive things that can be said about this book. So instead, I'll give a few warnings. This book is a slow burner. You'll be nearly a hundred pages in before you really have an inkling as to what the plot is about, and from there, the pacing doesn't really quicken much. But that's okay! It's something that really works in the favor of the book. If you can't handle open minded discussion of religions and gods, then this book is not for you. However, it masterfully and respectfully hands many mythologies and ties them into a cohesive, satisfying, engaging story that's well worth the time it will take you to read it.

Now that all that's out of the way, let's talk about some of the aspects, good and bad, about the book. I've seen some criticisms of the book that say it never reaches the full potential of its premise. I disagree with that. Much of the book is dedicated to the wrangling together of all the gods, which is exactly what the book says it's gonna be about. The climax is satisfying in a somewhat unexpected way. But the clues are dropped throughout the book. It's not a climax that comes out of left field. Characters remain in character, and, for me, it ends in a wholly satisfying way.

That's not to say the book doesn't have some issues. Primarily in Part 2. The whole Lakeside arc is kind of useless, in the broad context of the story. Everything kind of comes to a halt. Yeah, some of the chapters deal with Shadow and Wednesday continuing to recruit gods who will be important to the finale, but that could've been accomplished in a chapter of two, instead of the five or so that end up being in that part. And they're lengthy chapters, too. Most of what happens in Lakeside has no real impact on the rest of the story. It's truly a B-plot line. Which is fine, but I think it's a reason why people find the book overly long and meandering and disappointing. It really does feel like everything just takes a break for Shadow to do some fun small-town shenanigans. There's some fun character development that happens, and I'm not saying the entire part is useless, but it's definitely somewhat superfluous. If one were to shorten the book, they could easily start with the Lakeside plotline.

In the Author's Preferred Edition, there's a cut scene involving a conversation between Shadow and Jesus Christ. I understand why it was cut, that Gaiman felt it hinted at something he couldn't provide in the restraints of this particular novel, but I wish it had been kept in the actual novel (not as an apocryphal scene) because I think it touches on some of the interesting themes of the later half of the book, where it's emphasized that the gods essentially have different forms of themselves depending on who's worshiping them. That's really interesting, and I wish that conversation had been kept in the chapter it was originally supposed to be in. It's a short scene, after all. But I get why it was cut.

I really enjoy how the book ends. The last few chapters are just gripping. Really all of Part 3 is fantastic. The way Gaiman jumps from different points of view as everyone finds their way to Rock City is a masterclass in creating tension. We'll see something happen from one point of view, and then see the events that led to that thing happening, etc. It really makes it so that you don't want to put down the book. At all.

Overall, I enjoyed American Gods even more the second time I read it. It's fascinating, gripping, epic, moving, and most of all entertaining. There's a reason it's as beloved as it is. I'm outrageously excited for the STARZ adaptation of it, because so much of this book is vividly visual that it'll be exciting to see it realized on TV.

If you like Gaiman, like fantasy, like theology, or just like a good story, I recommend you read this book immediately. ( )
  thoroughlyme | Apr 23, 2021 |
Wow, I just couldn't get through this. I skimmed the last 300 pages, even having to skip some of the longer, not-so-relevant parts to get to something remotely interesting. The plot was semi-interesting, but the characters were flat and unrelatable. They also came and went like water under a bridge. This had a lot of potential to have a great message about idolization as well as tie-in Greek, Roman, Norse and other gods. Instead it just kinda fell flat on its face with a bunch of vulgar scenes and swearing. It's sad that a book has to be inappropriate to be popular. :( ( )
  afrozenbookparadise | Apr 22, 2021 |
Sehr ungleichmässig in seiner Qualität. Guter Anfang, passables Ende aber unendlich dröger Mittelteil; habe ganze Kapitel übersprungen und Seiten überflogen. Der Autor muss dringend an seinem pacing arbeiten: lange Bücher, für die es einen langen Atem braucht, sind nicht seine Stärke.

Korrektur nach zwei Tagen: passabler Anfang, aber bestenfalls schwaches Ende. Wenn man bedenkt, wie oft der Erzähler uns gesagt hat, dass DER GROSSE STURM kommt, dass DER KRIEG bevorsteht, und dann dieses Rüdiger Hoffmann-Ende: "Haben wir kurz drüber geredet; nöh, haben sie auch gleich eingesehen" - oh man! Und dann diese vollkommen überflüssigen doppelten Nachworte. Wenn ich in Zukunft über ein Buch höre, dass es sein bisher ambitioniertestes Werk ist, werde ich einen großen Bogen darum machen. Hier passt mal wieder der alte Satz, dass hier jemand als Tiger gestartet (der Hype, die aufgebaute Erwartung), aber als Bettvorleger gelandet ist. ( )
  MrKillick-Read | Apr 4, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 793 (next | show all)
i have my one perspective about this, this is beyond my imagination, that this book is quite awsome!
This is a fantastic novel, as obsessed with the minutiae of life on the road as it is with a catalogue of doomed and half-forgotten deities. In the course of the protagonist Shadow's adventures as the bodyguard and fixer of the one-eyed Mr Wednesday, he visits a famous museum of junk and the motel at the centre of the US, as well as eating more sorts of good and bad diner food than one wants especially to think about.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Independent, Roz Kaveney (Jul 18, 2001)
Part of the joy of American Gods is that its inventions all find a place in a well-organised structure. The book runs as precisely as clockwork, but reads as smoothly as silk or warm chocolate.
added by stephmo | editThe Independent, Roz Kaveney (Jul 18, 2001)
Gaiman's stories are always overstuffed experiences, and ''American Gods'' has more than enough to earn its redemption, including a hero who deserves further adventures.
"American Gods" is a juicily original melding of archaic myth with the slangy, gritty, melancholy voice of one of America's great cultural inventions -- the hard-boiled detective; call it Wagnerian noir. The melting pot has produced stranger cocktails, but few that are as tasty.
added by stephmo | editSalon.com, Laura Miller (Jun 22, 2001)

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gaiman, Neilprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boutsikaris, DennisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, SarahNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kivimäki, MikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKean, DaveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLarty, RonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oreskes, DanielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One question that has always intrigued me is what happens to demonic beings when immigrants move from their homelands. Irish-Americans remember the fairies, Norwegian-Americans the nisser, Greek-Americans the vryókolas, but only in relation to events remembered in the Old Country. When I once asked why such demons were not seen in America, my informants giggled confusedly and said, "They're scared to pass the ocean, it's too far," pointing out that Christ and the apostles never came to America.
—Richard Dorson, "A Theory For American Folklore", American Folklore and the Historian
The boundaries of our country sir? Why sir, on the north we are bounded by the Aurora Borealis, on the east we are bounded by the rising sun, on the south we are bounded by the procession of the Equinoxes, and on the west by the Day of Judgement
—The American Joe Miller's Jest Book
They took her to the cemet'ry
In a big ol' cadillac
They took her to the cemet'ry
But they did not bring her back.
—old song
For absent friends—Kathy Acker and Roger Zelazny, and all points between
First words
Shadow had done three years in prison.
Fiction allows us to slide 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.
"A town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but without a bookstore it knows it's not fooling a soul."
When people came to America they brought us with them. They brought me, and Loki, and Thor, Anansi and the Lion-God, Leprechauns and Kobalds and Banshees, Kubera and Frau Holle and Ashtaroth, and they brought you. We rode here in their minds, and we took root. We travelled with the settlers to the new lands across the ocean.
The land is vast. Soon enough, our people abandoned us, remembered us only as creatures of the old land, as things that had not come with them to the new. Our true believers passed on, or stopped believing, and we were left, lost and scared and dispossessed, only what little smidgens of worship or belief we could find. And to get by as best we could.
'So that's what we've done, gotten by, out on the edges of things, where no-one was watching us too closely.'
Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.
All we have to believe with is our senses, the tools we use to perceive the world: our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted. And even if we do not believe, then still we cannot travel in any other way than the road our senses show us; and we must walk that road to the end.
There's never been a true war that wasn't fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe 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.
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Disambiguation notice
There are at least two different editions of this book.   The original was published in 2001, and the tenth anniversary edition (Author's preferred text)  was published in 2011.   Please do not combine.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Shadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she's been killed in a terrible accident. Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible. He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming. And from that moment on, nothing will ever he the same.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
The book follows the adventures of ex-convict Shadow, who is released from prison a few days earlier than planned on account of the death of his wife, Laura, in a car accident. Shadow finds work as the escort and bodyguard of the confidence man Mr. Wednesday, and travels across America visiting Wednesday's colleagues and acquaintances. Gradually, it is revealed that Wednesday is an incarnation of Odin the All-Father (the name Wednesday is derived from "Odin's (Woden's) day"), who in his current guise is recruiting American manifestations of the Old Gods of ancient mythology, whose powers have waned as their believers have decreased in number, to participate in an epic battle against the New American Gods, manifestations of modern life and technology (for example, the Internet, media, and modern means of transport). Laura comes back in the form of a sentient animated corpse due to a special coin Shadow had placed in her coffin, and is instrumental in eliminating several of the New Gods' agents.

AR 5.3, 28 Pts
Haiku summary
New gods, and old ones
All across America
- A storm is coming

Gods, starving, lose faith;
Easy marks for Odin's scheme.
Shadow holds his breath.

Shadow, with help from
wife, finds fickle gods and beats
them at their own game.

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