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Thoughts on American Gods by Neil Gaiman

February 23, 2011
Cover of "American Gods: A Novel"

Cover of American Gods: A Novel

After the type of books I have been reading the simplistic dialogue of American Gods was a bit of a culture shock to me.  However, as the story progressed I did find myself drawn into the tale of Shadow and the lost gods of America. The novel is a mixture of world mythology, mysticism, and modern culture.  Shadow, the protagonist, is a modern man pulled into a battle between the new gods of technology and the old gods that the various immigrants to America brought with them.  It is an interesting tale with several aspects of the science fiction and paranormal genres mixed into it.

Having just finished the book, I am not sure what my feelings are exactly on it.  I don’t find myself to be a ravenous Neil Gaiman fan, but I also didn’t dislike it and wouldn’t mind reading another book of his.  I think my largest problem with the book was the general modern and simple style of it.  I have become so used to effusive and detailed narratives that I wasn’t as enthralled with the simple descriptions used within the novel.  I think that this is what American Gods lacked for me:  the beautiful imagery and detail that the last few books I have read have made me accustomed to.  For me the imagery in the novel felt flat and two dimensional.  The descriptions could have been so much more detailed and the imagery could have been stronger.  Despite my problems with the imagery, the tale was woven in such a way that I was drawn into it.

Gaiman is a masterful story teller.  He brought together several aspects of society and created a story that made you want to turn the page to find out what happens next.  Like many good page turning books, it was successful in keeping the reader guessing the entire way and the plot twists were not too predictable.  The characters were also interesting and that too brought me to wanting to read more and more of the book.  Another problem I felt the book had though was that not enough time was spent on anyone character.  Just as I thought I was getting to understand a character or know enough about them, their descriptions would stop and I would be left wondering about them.  This book could have actually been longer with a little more time spent on character development and I think I would have been happy.  I didn’t feel like I got to know any of the characters well enough for my satisfaction, which was a shame because I was fascinated by all of them.

Overall, American Gods is a great page turner, but lacked some of the details I would have enjoyed seeing.  It is a pleasant and comfortable read with a fascinating plot, but I was only left feeling neutral about the book as a whole.

I read this book as part of the 2011 Back to the Classics Challenge as a possible 21st century classic.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2011 6:35 am

    hmm… I certainly believe American Gods will stand the test of time, but it most certainly does not read like a literature “classic”.

    but I’m happy you gave it a shot, it’s a wonderful introduction to Neil Gaiman!

    • February 24, 2011 7:40 am

      I’ve heard that about American Gods, which is why I thought it might classify as a 21st century classic, in its own fashion. I will definitely read more Gaiman in the future, I’m just sad that he didn’t spend as much time on his characters as I would have liked, but maybe I’m a glutton for punishment and want to read a fat book with page after page of detail 😛

  2. She permalink
    February 24, 2011 3:56 pm

    Don’t write off Gaiman immediately! I would definitely recommend Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book– my favorites of his.

    • February 25, 2011 9:25 am

      I won’t. I think I’m going to try the graveyard book next time I read his stuff.

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