This book has all the elements of a book I would enjoy The creepiness factor is up there, the writing is brilliant, the main character is a big lug I couldn t help but love Also, I have always been fascinated by mythology, so that s a plus.
Shadow is our main character and he just got out of jail after doing his time of three years Right before he is supposed to be released he is let out early, because his wife was killed, in apparently scandalous circumstances The first 50ish pages were about the extent of where the book was interesting to me Shadow meets Wednesday, and then the story turns into a bunch of mini stories and flashbacks, and I didn t enjoy most of them Some were okay, but the majority just felt like annoying disruptions, and I felt myself thinking this is yet another longer book that could benefit from losing about 100 or so pages from the dragging middle Shadow is paid by Wednesday to be an errand boy while he travels America trying to rally his troops in preparation for a war between The old Gods, and the new Gods media and money I guess it s my own fault I couldn t really bring myself to care about this war between the new and old Gods, because the Gods of Media and Money Not my Godsbooks that are hyped up as much as this one leave me in a place where I tend to get disappointed, because it s so hard to live up to those expectations Of course that s not the books fault, but I was just expecting to like this book much than I did I never felt engaged while reading this book, and that s the reason I couldn t rate this above three stars I could appreciate the great writing and originality, however, so I couldn t give it below three stars.
Three stars it is folks, but as most of you know this book is loved by almost all, so of course I encourage everyone who is interested in this book already to read it, and form your own opinions This book didn t do it for me, but I am definitely going to try some of Gaiman s other books and see if I have a better experience.
read Gaiman they say I can t believe you ve never read Gaiman You have GOT TO read Gaiman Gaiman is SUCH an important part of popular culture and one of the BEST contemporary writers You HAVE TO read GAIMAN Well, I ve read Gaiman now.
Hi Gaiman Bye Gaiman Let me quoteAmerican Gods is Neil Gaiman s best and most ambitious novel yet, a scary, strange, and hallucinogenic road trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American spirit I agree with everything but the beginning and the end It certainly was scary, strange and hallucinogenic None of it in a good way.
I like nothing about this book Not liking it isn t very difficult, because I have honestly no idea what was going on Not that I didn t get the actual story, it wasn t that hard, since Mr Gaiman sure isn t the most demanding writer that isn t meant as a criticism, it can be a good thing But why the things that were going on, were going on, completely eluded me And while I kept on reading and wondering, huh why What now , in the end, it all came up to Why should I care This isn t my kind of book, mainly due to the subject and the characters That s why I don t think anything Gaiman wrote would be my kind of book It certainly isn t a book, or an author, you HAVE to read.
I guess this, like that strange car race video game and Star Trek, will be parts of popular culture that will have to live without me.
Anybody who tells you that the book is about old and new gods, or about a man named Shadow, or about coin tricks, or about having one s head smashed in for losing a game of checkers, is selling you a line, because those are just details, not the story itself.
Much like any Neil Gaiman story, the devil is in the details, and you just have to resolve yourself to coming along for the ride or you ll miss it It s not one story, or two, it s many, and it s all completeand you have to just read it, and enjoy it, and accept it Or just don t bother.
I might as well sell you a violin as sell this book to you, or pluck a synopsis of it from behind your ear and then deposit it in my hand, only to have it turn into a critical review while your attention is elsewhere But I won t, you ll just have to find the magic yourself.
I find myself shocked at the awards this book has won and the praise heaped upon it How on Gods Earth could a book about Gods walking on the Earth among mortals be so pedestrian Somehow Gaiman managed to turn a potentially cool premise into something boring For those who love this book and I know it is many please forgive the sarcasm to follow as I blaspheme against the beloved Gaiman But Gods help me, the I read, the I hated American Gods.
First off, while the premise sounds interesting the I thought about it, the less I liked it The basic idea the worshippers a God has, the powerful they are The plot there is a building power struggle between the old Gods Norse, Native American, pagan, etc and the new Gods Technology, Television, Money, etc Okay, I ve heard the ratio of worshippers to power idea before so that s not so original But it s not a deal breaker It has potential Here s the unique twist in American Gods that caused my political antenna to start twitching every God like say Odin has an avatar of him or herself in each country Or is it each continent Gaiman s not quite clear about that Would there be an Odin in Belgium and Luxembourg Or does all of Europe get one Odin who is different from the American Odin I find it politically disagreeable to suggest that every country or even continent has different God avatars To make this the premise turns intangible political entities nations into strictly bordered spiritual containers It s parochial thinking I disagree with this premise radically because I reject that people of a given nation are somehow bonded spiritually Countries are artificial Like Afghanistan Like how we stole the native people s land to form America I ascribe to the perspective that while people should always be fighting for political freedom and better political systems locally and nationally, we are truly citizens of the world together The premise of American Gods manages to privilege the people in one country as somehow being united in their spiritual energy, feeding the Gods only within that country As a metaphor Gaiman repeatedly feels the need to state that this premise is a metaphor it fails There should be no metaphorical boundary between my spirit and my sister s and brother s spirits in Nicaragua, even if we have different local needs Further, I could go on about how old Gods religious deities are in cahoots with modern Gods like wealth and technology Just look at the fact that all the evangelists support the party of the 1%.
Political oversensitivity on my part aside, the rant continues.
The main character, Shadow, was about the dullest hero I ve ever read For Gods sake how many times do other characters have to refer to how big he is Is he a big man He sure is big Wow, you re big Apparently he s big Is he big Oh boy is he a big man Yep, he s big He was big and boring and one dimensional So pure of heart that it grated on me I found the majority of his dialogue to be trite and conventional He struck me throughout as a pawn of the author and yes he was a pawn of the Gods, too than a real being His words were missing that spark of believability to bring the character to life I didn t even believe his repeated sleight of hand behavior It felt like a character trait on a chart that Gaiman could pull out every couple of chapters And when it came to the other God characters I just wasn t feelin it They seemed phony as all get out I did not find his representation of them credible I think my reaction to their characterizations were primarily due to a reaction to mediocre dialogue The dialogue wasn t awful, but I found it to be consistently off slightly awkward, slightly unnatural, subtly stilted.
Most of the story was told in very close third person from Shadow s point of view But every once in a while, Gaiman would throw in a chapter from another character s point of view These chapters read in some ways like short stories inserted into the novel to expurgate some backstory, elucidate the God worshipper premise in detail, or delve into a side character I find such techniques utterly amateurish One or two interludes in a book might be acceptable but to have an entire story driving in a close third person POV and then jump into another character because you can t explain something from the primary POV is cheap It s an easy out I react badly when authors feel the need to explain things to begin with And to interrupt the flow of the structure you ve created to do so pisses me off It made me feel as though Gaiman were talking down to me as the reader, like I was a little kid who didn t get it Or like his storytelling just wasn t good enough to tell the story without jumping out of it to explain it Understanding should come organically Or else the POV jumping should happen frequently, such as, every chapter It s all about rhythm of storytelling.
Swathes of American Gods were just plain boring About 2 3 of the way through I started skipping whole paragraphs, then pages to get to plot events All the stuff between the plot events was trying my patience Shadow spends a great deal of time stuck in a small town in northern Wisconsin, meeting all these good hearted locals and exploring bits of small town life I felt like I was stuck in a small town in northern Wisconsin during the winter the whole time I m like this is not freaking Housekeeping and Gaiman sure ain t Marilynne Robinson He does not have the writing chops to pull off an intimate look at real small town life.
Modest spoiler view spoiler The entire chapter where the old Gods meet the new Gods in truce made no logical sense Even if the place they met was neutral due to its magical qualities, the new Gods simply had to track the trucks when the old Gods drove off and bomb the hell out of them It was just this weird excuse to have some conversations between the old and new, between Shadow and the new Gods And to get that body back Contrived hide spoiler My first thought on this book This is a 2.
5 to 3 star book max for me I am pretty sure this will be my last Neil Gaiman book I have tried two others Good Omens The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch and The Ocean at the End of the Lane and one of those was okay Omens and one of them I couldn t stand Ocean.
I realize that my feelings on Gaiman and his books are contrary to popular opinion, but they are just not my cup of tea They are slow They seem intentionally odd and artsy By the end, I just don t care any I think trying 3 of his books shows I have given him a good chance, but now it may be time to part ways.
American Gods has its interesting storylines that is why I have rounded up to 3 stars but overall, I didn t see the point I expected some really interesting stuff to happen between all the Gods and mortals, but instead I got sometimes boring, sometimes unintelligible speeches, or really odd occurrences that come out of nowhere and make no sense In general, I am not really sure why any of it happened other than Gaiman spewed forth some really weird stream of consciousness This was the same way I felt about The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
So if you love Gaiman, keep on reading But, don t fault me for not caring for is style after several tries, it is just how I feel and I don t think it is going to get any better.
Whenever we have a cold snap here in Wisconsin, I find myself thinking about one of my favorite pieces of American Gods I remember reading it back in 2002 or so This was back in the day Back when it was a bit of a secret that Gaiman lived in Wisconsin I read the following section of the book nodding to myself, thinking, Yup, that s exactly what it s like Then I had another thought I bet this comes from that really bad cold snap we had here in Wisconsin about six years ago It was pretty cool for me, being able to guess where a this piece of this book got its start For those of you who haven t read it here s the excerpt The main character, Shadow, has just come to a small Wisconsin town, and he decides to walk into town to buy some warmer clothes and groceries The cold snap had come, that was for sure It could not be much above zero, and it would not be a pleasant walk, but he was certain he could make it into town without too much trouble What did Hinzelmann say last night a ten minute walk And Shadow was a big man He would walk briskly and keep himself warm He set off south, heading for the bridge.
Soon he began to cough, a dry, thin cough, as the bitterly cold air touched his lungs Soon his ears and face and lips hurt, and then his feet hurt He thrust his ungloved hands deep into his coat pockets, clenched his fingers together trying to find some warmth Step after step after step He glanced back The apartment building was not as far away as he had expected.
This walk, he decided, was a mistake But he was already three or four minutes from the apartment, and the bridge over the lake was in sight It made as much sense to press on as to go home and then what Call a taxi on the dead phone Wait for spring He had no food in the apartment, he reminded himself.
He kept walking, revising his estimates of the temperature downward as he walked Minus ten Minus twenty Minus forty, maybe, that strange point on the thermometer when Celsius and Fahrenheit say the same thing Probably not that cold But then there was wind chill, and the wind was now hard and steady and continuous, blowing over the lake, coming down from the Arctic across Canada.
Ten minutes of walking, he guessed, and the bridge seemed to be no nearer He was too cold to shiver His eyes hurt This was not simply cold this was science fiction This was a story set on the dark side of Mercury, back when they thought Mercury had a dark side This was somewhere out on rocky Pluto, where the sun is just another star, shining only a little brightly in the darkness This, thought Shadow, is just a hair away from the places where air comes in buckets and pours just like beer.
The occasional cars that roared past him seemed unreal spaceships, little freeze dried packages of metal and glass, inhabited by people dressed warmly than he was An old song his mother had loved, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, began to run through his head, and he hummed it through closed lips, kept pace to it as he walked.
He had lost all sensation in his feet He looked down at his black leather shoes, at the thin cotton socks, and began, seriously, to worry about frostbite.
This was beyond a joke This had moved beyond foolishness, slipped over the line into genuine twenty four karat Jesus Christ I screwed up big time territory His clothes might as well have been netting or lace the wind blew through him, froze his bones and the marrow in his bones, froze the lashes of his eyes, froze the warm place under his balls, which were retreating into his pelvic cavity.
Keep walking, he told himself Keep walking I can stop and drink a pail of air when I get home And that, my friends, is one of the many reasons I love Neil Gaiman.
Gods die And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered Ideas are difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.
The Old Gods brought over by immigrants Wild, fantastical tales of elephant headed men and trickster spiders Of power and lust Of fear and worship.
The New Gods created by the immigrants descendants Gods of money, media and might Newly formed out of the hopes, dreams and desires of a people who ve long since forgotten the Old Gods A storm is coming.
The New Gods, though young and foolhardy, know what they want and they want to take the world from the Old Gods.
Caught in the crossfires is one, very human, ex prisoner named Shadow The ideas Neil Gaiman comes up with are simply stunning It s hard to describe this book it s all encompassing This story feels so old and established almost like it s a legend, passed down from generation to generation It crossed every genera from romance to murder mystery to mythology absolutely seamlessly I really loved all of the New Gods that Gaiman created.
There s The Technical Boy God of the internet and computers The Black Hats Gods of Conspiracy theories and shady ideas And, my personal favorite, Media the Goddess of the TelevisionThe TV s the altar I m what people are sacrificing to What do they sacrifice asked Shadow Their timeAnd of course, because it s Neil Gaimanthere s a bunch of weird sex thrown inbecause reasons.
Literally, one of the Old Goddesses ate a man alive with her womanhood Another time, Shadow was really injured and was healed through painfully descriptive sex magic Aside Does anyone really know why Gaiman always does this Can t we have one book where everyone keeps their clothes on And, if that wasn t confusing enough, in between the man eating labia and sex bandaidswe get absolutely adorable quotes like this What I say is, a town isn t a town without a bookstore It may call itself a town, but unless it s got a bookstore, it knows it s not foolin a soul.
or this The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long dead cookies.
Sometimes, I really want to know what goes through this man s headand then againmaybe not Still, this was an extremely interesting read and one of the few Gaiman books that I enjoyed from cover to cover Audiobook CommentsExtremely well read by Dennis Boutsikaris, Daniel Oreskes, Ron McLarty, and Sarah Jones Each major character had a different voice actor actress and it really enhanced the audio The accents sounded accurate to my untrained ear and the whole book was immensely enjoyable to listen to The Finer books Club 2018 Reading Challenge A book based in your home stateBlog Instagram Twitter 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 Plane, He Encounters The Enigmatic Mr Wednesday, Who Claims To Be A Refugee From A Distant War, A Former God And The King Of AmericaTogether 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 BreakScary, 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 This Is The Author S Preferred Text, Never Before Published In The UK, And Is About , Words Longer Than The Previous UK Edition Do you ever read a book and become completely lost in the words and, ultimately, wonder what is actually happening Well, I do So, I go back and read the bits I may not have picked up or accidently skimmed over This allows me to actually understand the book I tried doing that with this, and I quickly realised that I still had no idea what was going on The plot of this felt completely random, drawn out to the point of ridiculousness and the events, themselves, felt incoherent I have no idea why most of the events actually happened in here, and at this point, I can honestly say that just I don t care any Did I miss something The book begins with the protagonist, Shadow, finishing his prison sentence On the day of release his wife is killed in a car accident What initially appears as mere bad fortune slowly evolves into what can only be considered as something much odder His wife s ghost visits him, and assists him in the random events he then encounters I say random because that s exactly what this book is The events that occurred had no discernible point I kept expecting to see some reasoning behind it all, but just couldn t Perhaps I missed something But the plot of this felt barely connected There was an overall lack of cohesion and plot driver I had very little reason to read this, and as I got further and further into it, I had even less The book seemed to be going in a weird direction of its own that felt completely ungraspable I just don t understand the point of most of it the characters all felt like they belonged in a psyche ward I understand the overall meaning of the book, but the way in which the author presented it was awful The actual events and scenes that took place were bizarre to the point of them having no purpose For me, this book needed much than just an overall juxtaposition of god types it needed to be enjoyable on the surface level as well it needed a proper plot This book almost killed me If a book bores me this much, and confuses me this much, when reading, the overall message of the book cannot save it in my estimation The reading process was dull and plain arduous, I wanted to cry at points because it was that bad Indeed, I had to force myself to complete reading this incredibly packed out, and rambling piece of randomness If someone asked me to give a concise summary of the book, and tell them what happened, I d be unable to complete the task Perhaps it s just me, but this book is so strange I have nothing positive to say about it, in any respect, and absolutely hated reading it I just can t appreciate what Gainman was trying to achieve because he did it such a roundabout way I simply detest this book It was an absolute trudge to finish it This just seemed far too long The message that the author was trying to capture could have been done in half the word count Perhaps, it doesn t help that my copy was the original version, which means its twelve thousand words longer than the normal one For me, this meant that there were entire chapters that were completely pointless Nothing happened in them, and nothing was achieved through them At points, this novel felt like a connected series of events that could barely be considered a plot It will, indeed, be many months before I pick up another book by this author, maybe even years, maybe not ever again I ll never forgive the author for this tripe A very disheartened one star