American Gods is a good book. I mean this whole heartedly and yet it feels as though I am doing it a disservice by saying that it is good. It would be more honest to say that I’ve never read another book like it and the only other such tomes that come close also suffer the same label of ‘good books’ and somewhat unsurprisingly are also written by Neil Gaiman.
I’ve read three of his short story collections and four of his novels and I’m well on my way toward finishing the sandman series and I have the same complaints/praise for them all. Gaiman tells good stories, I thoroughly enjoy his work and he’s become an auto buy author for me. However it is insanely difficult to quantify his books. They don’t change my world views but they do challenge the way I perceive the ordinary. They don’t make me cry but u always find myself laughing every few pages. I have never felt a substantial connection to his characters and yet they are very real to me, and sometimes even human.
American Gods is an adventure following an ex-con, Shadow, in the wake of his wife’s death as his navigates an impending war of the gods. Not just one or two gods but all of them. The gods of old who were brought to America in the minds and prayers of immigrants, and the new gods of oil and media and the Internet who rule our lives today. For a book nearing 600 pages you might get bogged down with detail or pointless history, but I found myself wishing that there was more.
This was a story wrapped inside a dozen stories and I suspect that if I tried to list all the characters within, the list would hit somewhere around the hundred mark. Never the less each character came fully formed, a being unto themselves rip with personality and history and motivation. Moreover each tale or segment was unique and contributed to the greater whole of a story about the way our ancestors shaped our world and how we continue to do so.
I cannot compare American Gods to any other work but I’ve decided that I don’t wish to. I will say that it was definitely worth the read and has made me appreciate my heritage and being an American just a little more. I recommend this to anyone who loves mythology, mysteries and urban paranormal novels.