Saturday, December 13, 2014
Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Unlike most convicts, Shadow has a life waiting for him once he's released: a wife and a job. But when he's released a few days early, it's only to learn that his wife and best friend were killed in a car accident. Now there's no job and no life waiting for him. What else does he have now?
That's when Mr. Wednesday picks him up. He'd got a job offer, one that will introduce Shadow to a world he's never known existed: the world of the American Gods. Any creature that has been worshipped lives on in America, brought over by immigrants. Vishnu, Buffalo, Ibis, Jackal-- they're all here. And they're fading, their followers now worshipping technology and the media. Mr. Wednesday plans to go to war with these new gods and reclaim his worshippers.
And he needs Shadow to help him do it.
That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from
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.
If you're wanting a little tour of America, this is it. You're not going to get a real serious overview of how things are here (not even a real idea of how things were in 2001, when this book was originally published) but it's an idea. America is a melting pot, and it only makes sense that those people who came from elsewhere in the world brought their beliefs with them. Many of them are still observed. The idea behind American Gods is definitely an interesting one.
Gaiman's writing style is clear enough, but I felt like the narrative of American Gods was a little too meandering and evasive. The words themselves are beautiful. Gaiman writes wonderful prose, and his characterization is top-notch. He really did his research for this novel, and it shows.
They say that playing with a laser pointer with your cat can be very frustrating for the cat-- that since they can never really catch it, it makes the cat very tense unless you give it something it can really catch at the end. I felt very much like the cat through the entire book, like I just couldn't get what was really going on. That isn't a good thing. Bits and pieces here and there really snagged my attention, but I felt too out of the loop for the majority of the novel to really enjoy myself, and this coming from someone who's always had an interest in mythologies.
I will admit that the epilogue and post-script gave a bit of that "catching" feeling to me, but it was too little too late for my taste.
Would I Recommend This Book? Not really, but that's just a personal preference thing. American Gods is very well-written, but it didn't suit my own tastes like I'd hoped it would. The concept for me was better than the execution, and it hurts to say I didn't enjoy this novel. If you like to read, I would say give American Gods a shot. It's been called "an instant classic" but it isn't one for me. It might be for you. I give American Gods a clunking 3 of 5 stars.
For more information on the author, visit http://www.neilgaiman.com/