By: Neil Gaiman
I think that to properly understand some of what I’m about to say, you must know my back story with this book. Literally, years ago (at least 5-6 years), I bought a used copy of this in hardcover off of amazon. It’s been long enough ago that I don’t even remember why I bought it. Perhaps it was recommended through the amazon recommended engine. Or, perhaps I read something else by Gaiman that made me want to read something further. Whatever the case may be, I bought a copy. When I received the copy, I flipped through the pages as I usually do, only to find that the copy that I was sent was a signed, limited edition copy. But, I still never read it. Sometime spring, a local Relay for Life team was having a used book sale as a fundraiser. People bring in and donate books to be sold for $1. Who can turn down a book sale? Not me. While perusing the titles, I came across a paperback copy of American Gods. I bought it. That way, I could carry it around and read it without worrying about damaging the signed copy that I have. And, so, I finally read American Gods.
And, I’m so angry at myself for not having read it earlier. American Gods is easily the best book I’ve read so far this year. Granted, it was only the 8th book of the year, but I think that it will remain right up there at the top. Enough gushing. Let’s get down to the review.
The book, quite simply, is about American Gods. It’s an incredibly interesting look at what might happen to the gods of the old world when the people who believe in them visit and move to America. Throughout, we follow an ex-con named Shadow who gets picked up on his way home by a man called Wednesday. From there, we learn that there is an epic battle of survival among the old gods and the new gods. (I won’t go too much farther, as even that is a bit more spoilery than I usually care to go.)
Gaiman does an very good job of giving life to the many old (and new) gods that we encounter through the book, and makes the incredible task of tying them altogether seem effortless. There were times when the plot slowed, but the information there was tied to the plot and made the slight plodding worth while. This is, very much, not a suspenseful story. At least, not in the traditional sense that you are constantly wondering what is going to happen to this character or that character, or, when will that bomb blow up. It is, however, suspenseful in that you find yourself wondering how each of the plot points that are introduced will develop.
I thought that the book was a wonderfully put together piece of literature. (I should note that I quickly borrowed this to Jake, and he disagrees to some degree.) I think that it owes a great deal of that to Gaimans skill. He has an incredible grasp of language, and prose. A lesser author would not have been able to breath the life into this story that Gaiman did.
I don’t know where to place this book, genre wise. In a way, it’s a piece of literary fiction. In another, it’s a paranormal fiction novel. Maybe it’s best being called a literary paranormal fiction? I don’t know. But, if you’re a reader, I think you owe it to yourself to read it. I know I wasn’t disappointed.