American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Image result for american gods book cover

Title: American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Adventure, Mythology, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 7th – 12th August 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Headline
Year: 2001
5th sentence, 74th page: The men said, ‘We are far, far from our homes and our hearths, far from the seas we know and the lands we love.

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Synopsis

IS NOTHING SACRED?

Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plant, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there…

Thoughts

I knew that reading a Neil Gaiman story would be an adventure. This is the third novel that I’ve read by him, and every single time they’re intense, fun and completely off-kilter. The fact that this is my first really adult book by him just made it all the more exciting. And that much easier to just completely devour it. Especially at a time when I was getting a little overwhelmed and upset by everything else going on around me. It was kind of a perfect, twisted, world to float away in.

This is one of those novels that you will pick up nuances again and again as you read it. I spent a lot of the time on this, my first read through, trying to figure out which pantheon many of the old gods were from. Trying to figure out just who Mr. Wednesday was and what his motivations for hiring Shadow were. I didn’t spend as much time intrigued by the new age gods… which I think I will notice more next time.

I had kind of expected a bit of a romantic spin to this story when Shadow focuses on his wife so much at the beginning. It really isn’t even remotely romantic, and the relationship between Shadow and his wife turns a bit… well, weird. And, well, deeply disturbing in parts. Which is of course what I loved about this story – it made me kind of uncomfortable for the majority, and deeply disturbed at other moments. Not just in the storyline – but also with the message and themes that Gaiman is imparting throughout the story. It’s not supposed to be a happily ever after, comfortable story – it’s one that should really make you sit back and think about the choices you make in life, and just what it is that you worship.

American Gods is one of those stories that will stand the test of time. It discusses the battle that everyone must face at some point in their lives – old versus new. Which is better? Which should we worship? Are either of them actually any better than the other? As someone who is fascinated by ancient mythologies, but tends to live solidly in the real world, this is the perfect theme to follow – after all, it’s an internal discussion I often have too.

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Image source: Amazon

Book Review

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