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American Gods Mass Market Paperback – April 30, 2002
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American Gods is 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 his Sandman days.
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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Titans clash, but with more fuss than fury in this fantasy demi-epic from the author of Neverwhere. The intriguing premise of Gaiman's tale is that the gods of European yore, who came to North America with their immigrant believers, are squaring off for a rumble with new indigenous deities: "gods of credit card and freeway, of Internet and telephone, of radio and hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon." They all walk around in mufti, disguised as ordinary people, which causes no end of trouble for 32-year-old protagonist Shadow Moon, who can't turn around without bumping into a minor divinity. Released from prison the day after his beloved wife dies in a car accident, Shadow takes a job as emissary for Mr. Wednesday, avatar of the Norse god Grimnir, unaware that his boss's recruiting trip across the American heartland will subject him to repeat visits from the reanimated corpse of his dead wife and brutal roughing up by the goons of Wednesday's adversary, Mr. World. At last Shadow must reevaluate his own deeply held beliefs in order to determine his crucial role in the final showdown. Gaiman tries to keep the magical and the mundane evenly balanced, but he is clearly more interested in the activities of his human protagonists: Shadow's poignant personal moments and the tale's affectionate slices of smalltown life are much better developed than the aimless plot, which bounces Shadow from one episodic encounter to another in a design only the gods seem to know. Mere mortal readers will enjoy the tale's wit, but puzzle over its strained mythopoeia. (One-day laydown, June 19)Forecast: Even when he isn't in top form, Gaiman, creator of the acclaimed Sandman comics series, trumps many storytellers. Momentously titled, and allotted a dramatic one-day laydown with a 12-city author tour, his latest will appeal to fans and attract mainstream review coverage for better or for worse because of the rich possibilities of its premise.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In every review I have made of his novels I comment on the amazing worlds that he is able to vividly birth with his writing. Nowhere, perhaps with American Gods as the only exception, is this more apparent than in Stardust.
The fantastical creatures and events that are depicted in this book, are truly a pleasure to behold. The way the story is narrated in particular, makes the reader feel as if events are being guided by some higher power like fate, though it's obviously the author, and this lends itself greatly to the classical fantasy feel of the book.
Its also interesting to note that this struck me as being one of the lighter fantasy worlds that Gaiman has crafted. I quite enjoyed this when juxtaposed to the London Underground of Neverwhere.
I greatly enjoyed this book and its call back to the classic fairy tales of days past. I can't help but wish there was more.
I'm glad I stayed with it. Even Neil Gaiman, in the acknowledgements, admitted that, "It's been a long book and a long journey,". And I agree completely. My verdict is still to be determined in the Starz adaptation although I'm enjoying the visuals. I wish they had made a full length movie version of it, maybe in two parts, rather than spreading the series out over four or five years.
I am very anxious to read his children's book, Gaveyard Stories, (I think that's the name of it) since it has won such prestigious awards.
My only beef with this book and the author, is that I feel shortchanged in content. There could have been so much more to this story - so many more details that would have filled several books. I don't want to detract from the author's talent, but I feel like I was supposed to get the whole gourmet meal and only got an appetizer, which is meant as a compliment. My appetite has been whetted, but my hunger for more has not been sated.
My one gripe is that all characters speak in Words of Wisdom mode very frequently, and at times it's distracting, but since the story is like a fairy tale it doesn't feel entirely wrong. It's like it's being narrated, and the audiobook enhanced the effect greatly, making it easier to accept.
I'd recommend it without reservations.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A few years ago, I picked up the Kindle edition, and never got around to rereading it.Read more