Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow
Type: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Mythology
Rating: 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 out of 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸
Not wanting to give anything away about the story, all I will say, is that American Gods is the story of a war that’s brewing on Earth, in America no less, between the gods of old and the new gods of technology. Amid this growing battle, is Shadow, a recently released convict who finds himself encountering a strange man who goes by the name of Mr. Wednesday. What ensues is a strange and mind bending journey through the United States and all the ethnic groups and their belief systems which have created the country.
American Gods is one of those books that I bought after my best friend told me that I had to read it since I love all things to do with mythology of any kind. After being told this, it still took me about a year or so before I finally purchased copy, selecting the 10th Anniversary Edition with the Author’s preferred text. It should also be noted this was the first book of Neil Gaiman’s I ever purchased for myself, all the other books I owned by him up to this point, my best friend (the one and the same) had bought for me as birthday and Christmas gifts. Yet, even after buying the book, it still sat on my bookshelf for another year. I finally picked up American Gods last month as I wanted to start reading it before the premiere of the television adaptation that Starz was heading up.
Having finished the book, managing to stay ahead of the show in my reading, my initial thought upon completion was “why did it take me so long to read this?” My best friend was right, I did love this book and it was right up my alley with my love of mythology and religion and how people’s belief systems not only affect them but society around them. For as Sam says to Shadow:
“I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.”
This book posed the question of “what would happen if all the gods of old were brought to the new world and found themselves being forgotten as humans began to worship technology?” and it summarily answered that question.
I loved this story and all the detail that Neil Gaiman put into writing it. The small vignettes which were inserted at varying points throughout provided wonderful guideposts to help explain how all these vastly different gods found themselves in the United States as well as an idea of how the different cultures worshiped their deities to remember their heritage and what they had been taught as children. Reading this made me want to read more mythology, especially lesser known myths and gods that aren’t commonly taught, such as those from Africa that are not part of the Egyptian pantheon. Neil Gaiman has helped to remind me that not only is important to know the history of a people and where we came from, but part of that is also knowing their cultural and religious beliefs for all of those help to form not only a society, but we as individuals.
In the end, I’m glad that I finally read American Gods, I think it may be my new favorite book by Neil Gaiman. I’m also pleased that I started and finished it before the completion of the show on Starz, although now I must wait patiently for some of my favorite scenes to unfold on the show. If you are a Gaiman fan and haven’t read this book, read it already! If you’re a Gaiman novice but love mythology, pick this book up. Keep in mind this is not the easiest book to get through, but persevere and push through and let me know what you think.