05 August, 2014

Book Review: American Gods

From Goodreads: Shadow gets out of prison early when his wife is killed in a car crash. At a loss, he takes up with a mysterious character called Wednesday, who is much more than he appears. In fact, Wednesday is an old god, once known as Odin the All-father, who is roaming America rounding up his forgotten fellows in preparation for an epic battle against the upstart deities of the Internet, credit cards, television, and all that is wired. Shadow agrees to help Wednesday, and they whirl through a psycho-spiritual storm that becomes all too real in its manifestations. For instance, Shadow's dead wife Laura keeps showing up, and not just as a ghost – the difficulty of their continuing relationship is by turns grim and darkly funny, just like the rest of the book.Armed only with some coin tricks and a sense of purpose, Shadow travels through, around, and underneath the visible surface of things, digging up all the powerful myths Americans brought with them in their journeys to this land as well as the ones that were already here. Shadow's road story is the heart of the novel, and it's here that Gaiman offers up the details that make this such a cinematic book--the distinctly American foods and diversions, the bizarre roadside attractions, the decrepit gods reduced to shell games and prostitution. "This is a bad land for Gods," says Shadow.
More than a tourist in America, but not a native, Neil Gaiman offers an outside-in and inside-out perspective on the soul and spirituality of the country--our obsessions with money and power, our jumbled religious heritage and its societal outcomes, and the millennial decisions we face about what's real and what's not. --Therese Littleton

Thoughts: Gaiman, I think is either a love him or hate him author. You're either going to get a mass of enjoyment and reflection out of what he writes or you going to think it's a complete waste of time. Me, I loved it. I loved it because it makes your mind twist and turn in directions it normally wouldn't. It makes you think about the world around us and how we react to it - either passively or actively.
Reality is if you are looking for a book that takes a nice linear line, where you never go "hang on, what the hell happened there!", where your characters always make sense and the story comes together in a nice, cohesive way, this is not the book for you.
It's also an incredibly hard book to review for all of those reasons. David Monroe on Goodreads summed it up beautifully for me. He said:

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 complete...and you have to just read it, and enjoy it, and accept it. Or just don't bother.

The devil is in the details and if you can give yourself over to just taking the journey Gaiman wants to take you on, it's fabulous. On the other hand, you could just not bother - it's completely up to you.

This book completes the Fantasy aspect of my 100 Best Books List challenge