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American Gods: A Novel

An urban fantasy tale by Neil Gaiman, with an introspective look to mythology and American culture.

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American Gods is a Compelling Look at American Culture and Mythology

  • Feb 26, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4
I'll admit that urban fantasy is a genre with a particular amount of interest to me. I write in my free time, and a fair amount of my work is in this strange genre. However, I have to admit, a lot of my inspiration in this genre came from reading this book. Not to mention a fair amount of knowledge on Mythology and a new appreciation/view for American culture.

American Gods tells the unlikely tale of a recently released convict by the name of Shadow, who was let out of prison early after the death of his wife. This is a man with nothing, no real hopes, dreams, with the love of his life torn from him, and truly no place to go. That is, however, until he comes across a strange man who goes by the name of Mr. Wednesday. After this, Shadow's life will be changed in some very unusual ways.

Neil Gaiman, while being a British author, has taken a deep hard look at American culture. Every place that is mentioned in this book, from the cities, to obscure hunting lodges in the middle of nowhere, are actual places. This book also covers the story of the old gods of legend, who have become pale representations of their former selves, preparing for battle with the New Gods - those of Television, Mass Media, Computers and other iconic pieces of modern life.

While American Gods tells a tale of fantastic proportions, it is also a strangely human tale as well. We see everything largely through the eyes of Shadow, who is seemingly an outsider to the events going on. We feel for him as he deals with the news of his wife and how she died, we explore this strange perspective on the world with him, we see him grow, and we see how he develops over the course of the novel. Strangely enough, we also come to understand the Gods as well. We do not see them as all powerful people, but instead as normal people, who lack the glory they once had. We see them as grifters, prostitutes, mortuary workers, cab drivers, or even as individuals who have lost the sanity they once possessed. You come to understand their plight, as you realize how they have become forgotten.

This is not a tale for everyone, however. There is quite a bit of Mythology here - I know I personally kept stopping to pull up Wikipedia pages to learn more about the subjects presented, although it isn't actually necessary to do this to understand the story. It also deals with some strong adult themes as well, some of which may almost feel unnecessary. Expect some harsh language, some disturbing images, and several fairly explicit sex scenes. If these bother you, you might way to pass the book by. If not, be prepared for a fantastic tale.
American Gods, Urban Fantasy by Neil Gaiman

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More American Gods reviews
review by . July 02, 2010
This novel by Gaiman is my absolute favorite of his. The main character, Shadow, starts out kind of neutral, and a bit non-emotional. You start to realize as you read however, that he is you. perhaps a little more calm, a little more cynical, but for all intents and purposes, what else could you do in these situations but go along with them, much like he does.      "American Gods" begins with an upsetting situation for Shadow, but things start to look up (or at least …
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Neil Gaiman's best novel. Very much feels like The Sandman.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
this is pretty good, y'all. gaiman's more traditional novels are the bomb diggity.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
Alright enough.
Quick Tip by . June 15, 2010
This was well-written, though not really my cup of tea. I tried to like it because a friend recommended it, but I just couldn't.
Quick Tip by . May 26, 2010
Who knew it would take an Englishman to truly understand America?!
review by . January 06, 2010
The premise is brilliant: America, the immigrant nation, where old Gods had to be imported by the poor huddled masses because there were none already here, finds it has grown new Gods after all - styled after the new Americans' "worship" of their gadgets, media and consumerist lifestyle. The people now *consume* their idols: in the old days, the idols demanded it was the other way around - that was the sustenance of the Gods, and consequently we find the old Gods now worn out, power weakening, in …
review by . November 29, 2009
Pros: Interesting idea.     Cons: Takes forever, book blurb is hugely misleading     The Bottom Line: Though I can see why other people like it, I was very far from impressed.     I love Coraline.  I love Mirrormask.  I love Neil Gaiman's weirdness and unique ideas.  So finally I decided I should read some of his adult work since I am, after all, an adult.  So I picked up American Gods from the library and read it.   &nbs …
review by . May 11, 2006
Some fantasies are impossible to classify, and are almost impossible to review. "American Gods" is one of them. Zelazny's "Lord of Light" is a story of a 'gods versus gods' war, and so is this book. But in Gaiman's book, everyone is either a god, an unusually decent American, a serial killer disguised as a decent American, or a wife who returns from the dead. The only gods who don't show up are Big J and his only begotten Son. My favorite characters are the Egyptian deities who run a funeral home …
review by . January 06, 2005
Some fantasies are impossible to classify, and are almost impossible to review. "American Gods" is one of them. Zelazny's "Lord of Light" is a story of a 'gods versus gods' war, and so is this book. But in Gaiman's book, everyone is either a god, an unusually decent American, a serial killer disguised as a decent American, or a wife who returns from the dead. The only gods who don't show up are Big J and his only begotten Son. My favorite characters are the Egyptian deities who run a funeral home …
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Sean Bulger ()
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Member Since: Feb 26, 2009
Last Login: Aug 11, 2010 10:59 PM UTC
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Wiki

American Godsis 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. Gaiman tackles everything from the onslaught of the information age to the meaning of death, but he doesn't sacrifice the razor-sharp plotting and narrative style he's been delivering since hisSandmandays.

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 ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 0060558121 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780060558123 (pbk.)
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Date Published: September 2, 2003
Format: Novel
First to Review
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