Tuesday, 21 July 2009

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Shadow, a large man with a good heart, is summoned to the prison warden a few days prior to his release, only to be told that they are letting him out early because his wife died in an accident. On his way home, he is offered a job by a man called Wednesday, which he, at first, refuses. Shadow has sworn never to do anything illegal again in his life and Wednesday’s offer sounds a bit too dodgy. After having buried his wife and realizing that his life is now quite empty, he rethinks his decision and takes the job. Wednesday is an old god; a god brought over to America by previous generations and still exists because a few people still believe in him. He knows a fight between the old gods and the new American gods (of IT, Media, Technology and the like) is coming and so he hires Shadow to drive him around so that he can persuade all of the old Gods to join his fight.

Shadow is lead on a journey which is at times bizarre and unseemly. The lines between reality and what he has hitherto thought of as fiction are blurred quite a lot. His life also gets a whole lot more complicated when a special coin, the wrong coin, is given to him by a worn out leprechaun. Shadow puts the coin on his wife’s grave with rather odd consequences.

After having read Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book, which were both really good reads, I was quite looking forward to reading American Gods and was thrilled when a friend gave it to me for my birthday. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this one as much. It seemed to me to be neither here nor there, neither fantasy nor reality nor horror. It also seemed rather dry, dusty and depressing to me and I was glad to have finally finished the book. That’s not to say that it’s not a good book. After all, I don’t care for a lot of things that other people rave about, but it wasn’t my kind of book and I prefer Gaiman’s more fantastic and fun works. Having said that, there are some quite interesting subjects for discussion in the books, like old vs. new, the New American Way of Life, conspiracies and the perception of spirit worlds. If you like fantasy and American Literature, you might like this one quite a bit more than I did. However, for me, it gets a three out of five.

1 comment:

Trish said...

Oh no! I think this is my last Gaiman on the shelf. I read several of his books last year trying to figure out what the hype was and just didn't get it. I enjoyed the books (Neverwhere, Stardust, Coraline...I feel there was another), but I don't see why people are crazy over him. This was my last shot--hope I like it better than you did.