19 – American Gods

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After reading Good Omens I figured this was the year I finally play catch up with the works of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Couple with that the sale Amazon had for “American Gods”, and it was just a no-brainer to pick this one up.

I had no preconceived notions coming into this novel and it was only after reading the foreword that I learned the polarising effect it supposedly had on readers. Either you love or you hate it, Gaiman noted.

Having just finished it, let’s just say I don’t exactly love it, but I don’t hate it either. American Gods is a sprawling book that weaves mythology into the stories of America’s immigrants – a brilliant idea if there ever was any. All these gods – stranded and poor and forgotten – are no better than the people who brought them over with their prayers then forgot about them. It’s a heartbreaking look at the heart of America – the ultimate immigrant epic.

But the protagonist Shadow leaves much to be desired – dragged this way and that with barely anything remotely resembling activity on his part. It’s crazy that he doesn’t do anything at all until the final act, and even then it’s almost anti-climactic.

That said, I had much fun attempting to identify all the gods and the pantheons they came from. The Seven Immortals make an appearance, so yay. There’s also Kali, though she’s not so murderous anymore.

I found the writing slightly clunky and it took some time before I truly got drawn in. That said, I do wish we had a bit more discussion on how most of these gods shared their myths and origins. That would have been interesting. Odin and the resurrection? Hoo boy. Would have loved to see that go down with Jesus. (Except Gaiman didn’t include Jesus; he’s in a small scene that was cut from the novel.)

I haven’t read that many novels by Gaiman, but if the next one I read is a lot more Neverwhere than American Gods, I’d be one happy girl.

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