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American Gods
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change
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on July 2, 2017
American Gods by Neil Gaiman is a modern American epic like no other. In the modern United States, incarnation of the old gods and the manifestations of modern idols butt heads, as religion and progress often do. The story follows Shadow Moon, an ex-con and a widower who is pulled into the conflict by Odin, The All-Father after his wife Laura is killed in a car accident along with Shadow’s best friend.
A lot can be said for an author’s ability to reshape the ancient tales. Stories of the old gods, creation, and judgement of death have enough in common it’s not difficult to imagine them existing in the same universe. For all we know, they have weekly staff meetings.
Gaiman very obviously loves myth and legend as much as the histories that made them so. Since we no longer depend upon oral tradition, we’ve been able to spread religious ideals across the world, but with modernity right on their heels.
This book is a transition more than a work of true fiction, in my opinion. Being written on the cusp of a new millennium and published shortly thereafter had such an impact on how it’s perceived by an audience. Now that we see what has happened to America, 15 years later, we can not only draw parallels between history and myth, but between potential and talent.
This book changes the way we look at the old religions. Well, it at least changed how I do. Since I read The Iron Druid chronicles before finding out about this book, I can honestly say as a personal journey, American Gods smothers the emotional fire. Kevin Hearne is one of my favorite authors and the way I read his books was as an RPG of sorts. Neil Gaiman on the other hand, while having written a brilliant book, stays a little farther back from Shadow than I liked, and I couldn’t get the same insight as into a first person POV. The greater advantage to third person in the case of American Gods is, Gaiman had the opportunity to sell back story and exposition a lot better than The Iron Druid could in first person.
This was a ballad written by a bard who lived on this fantastic journey, but to tell his story, he must go on the occasional tangent. While somewhat disjointed as a result, American Gods was an encouraging read filled with truth and lies, fiction and nonfiction, and progress in the face of tradition.
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What if you mix a radio show, comparative religion, with a road trip? This is it!

Look, I see a lot of differing reviews on this book. I think if you are able to listen to the Audible version you would like it better. The many actors bring this far-fetched story alive. The narrators: Ron McLarty, Daniel Oreskes, and full cast (whatever that means) make you see gods, goddesses and dead people and other characters. They help you feel the cold, the pain, smell rot or smoke.

I don't know if I would have liked the book had I just read it without the Audible narration. I think it might have been more meandering and possibly boring. What kept me going was wanting to see what would happen to the main character. And having a bit of interest in other religions and cultures I wanted to see how Neil Gaiman would portray them and the war between them as they were fading into the obscurity of disbelief.

This wasn't my favorite book. It is very male-heavy. Goddesses and women were given little time or depth. BUT I doubt I will forget it and may want to read it again in a few years and see how it affects me then. I highly recommend using the audio version to immerse in this world, which may be America, but a different dimension than where most live.
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on July 24, 2017
In "American Gods" Gaiman has, once again, done his research and created an attention holding book with plenty of action, humor and darkness. Showing gods of the "old world" as near mortals that feed on prayer and sacrifice to survive in our new technology driven culture is an ingenious take on religious evolution. Gaiman has a knack for taking a idea that would inundate most writers with its vastness and narrowing it down to an empathy-invoking quest of one man, Shadow Moon. That he can make a character named "Shadow Moon" into a total badass is a feat in and of itself. I have been an on the fence reader of Gaiman for a while, but this book shoved me into his camp with two firmly planted feet. The only question lingering in my mind, despite being referenced in the epilogue, is why Gaiman avoided the Christian God or Trinity. While reading about the new gods of media and technology, as if no other religion had prevailed, I could not help but feel the lack of Christianity was to make a larger point about American culture (or perhaps modern culture) but a fairly inaccurate one. I am by no means looking for a religious statement or subtext in my reading but to ignore something so ingrained and still powerful in American culture seems a misstep in my opinion. It had crossed my mind that perhaps Gaiman did not want to offend or alienate this group of people with any perceived blasphemous statements and I hope this is not the case given the premise of the book. I, instead, chose to view supernatural world Gaiman has created as an alternate reality in which only the gods mentioned exist. This hole did not detract from the story whatsoever and I have recommended this book to many and will continue to do so.
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This is one of the more creative, imaginative, and unusual books I've read in a long, long time. Sad I discovered it so late; it's truly a remarkable read. A long book, yet reads like a summer novel. Go ahead, dive into Gaiman's wild imagination. Be prepared for unexpected twists, turns, and delightful weirdness. A classic.
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on July 22, 2017
As the title of this review clearly states, I saw the TV series before I read this book, in fact I did not know this book existed and I was quite certain that it would not be a book I would enjoy reading, after all, the series revealed all the secrets.
Well I was wrong this book is full of highways and byways, I touched in the series treatment and in fact has more depth than those eight epidodes could ever dream of and although it never got to the end of the book, in fact it did not even make it to the House on the Rock, the series was an excellent way for me to pick up something that I should have read years ago.
The characters all fully drawn, the plot is well paced and the author is true to his premise throughout, which for me anyhow make this a five star book. When archetypes are needed they are used and used with a deliciously ironic effect. This is the sort of book I could put down and come back to, until of course I received the final chapters. Although the ending is foreshadowed more than once, and I will not spoil any else's enjoyment of this book by pointing it out, I was caught up in the narrative that I could not suspend my disbelief for long enough to puzzle it out. Although I look forward to another season of American Gods, knowing what I know now, will certainly allow me to cast a more critical eye on the transformation of this delightful adventure to the small screen, and I expect great things from the screen writers as they weave the rest of this tale into their streaming video offering.
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on August 21, 2017
I know the book's been around forever and I watched the show (initially drawn to it because Bryan Fuller was at the helm and enjoyed it thoroughly!) before deciding to read the book. I'm happy to say that although the show is a different take, and changes major elements of the plot and characters, they're both great and that I think the spirit of the book is retained in the adaptation.
I had a minor fascination of fairytales growing up, dark and grim ones and all. American Gods injects mythology and fairytales with such a modern grit, while still enhancing its fantastical nature. The writing is heavy in description but well written in a way that gives the story an appropriate weight.
Shadow is a ghost of a protagonist but in a way that is necessary to the plot.

Also, it's a longer read but because of the way the book is organized, sprinkled with episodic tales, it was easy to start and stop and start again. This is one of its biggest merits -- though I love finishing books in one sitting because they're just so fascinating, I wish more books were like this. I always felt comfortable stopping, not out of boredom, but because of the breathing space the chapters provide-- while still being interested and able to hop in again whenever I had time.
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This book should be on a must read list for anyone interested in sci-fi. Neil Gaiman is a master story teller, and once you start reading this book it'll be nearly impossible to put down. I can't say anything that would really do this book or it's author any justice, so just read it and enjoy.
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on February 9, 2018
Writing a review for one of Neil Gaiman's most famous novels is a little like trying to write a review of Shakespeare: what can I possibly say that hasn't been said over five thousand times? Actually, it's worse than trying to review Shakespeare. I'm not worried that Shakespeare is going to read this review and be disappointed that no matter whether I loved or hated it, I obviously missed the point entirely. And Shakespeare certainly wouldn't be so profoundly disappointed, hurt, or even angry, that he would tell the world what an ignorant, inconsiderate, and uncultured booby I must be on Twitter.

Not that Neil Gaiman would do that of course...though some of his American Gods might. Scratch that. Some would make a point of it. And then find a way to make it national news.

American Gods is the story of a war told from the point of view of a soldier who doesn't even know he's a soldier until months after he's been conscripted. It offers a new perspective on what Gaiman sees as the constant struggle in America between the old and the new. And because Gaiman is not American, he's better able than most of us Americans to distinguish between what is truly Old, and just how far flung in time it began compared to what is now New. There's a historicity to this book that few modern fantasy novels achieve, a tone of truth even in the telling of what must be a myth. Every American is the ancestor of someone who came here from somewhere else; we are all the children of immigrants. And our forebears had gods. And those gods came with them. A few survived.

This book is about those gods. The reason it works so well is not because those gods are full of thunder, and wisdom, and divine power (though they are all those things); it's because like the gods told by Homer and Virgil, Gaiman's American Gods are full of violence and greed, lust and guile, humor and tenderness, hope and love, in short: humanity. And because they are so full of humanity, because they are humanity, the story of a human wandering in the world of gods and women and men and beasts cannot help but give us pause to reflect upon our own humanity, our own gods, and the meanings of words like "sacrifice" and "loyalty," and even "faith."

A good book tells a story that changes how we feel. A great book tells a story that changes how we are. American Gods is a great book.
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on July 19, 2017
Shadow was so much fun to follow, this Puppy who isn't alive. How he solved everything, went about his work and interactions. You could see how much of a dumb, gentle giant he was as well as the intelligent warrior. His relationship with Wednesday, his conversations with Laura, the flirtations with Sam, Bast, and Easter. How Loki slyly fit into everything. I'm not surprised they made this book a tv show although personally, I don't think the show does the story justice even if they damn well cast the right actor for Shadow. Anyway, I'm ranting. If you want to read about gods and myths, cons and tricks, and a ton of random global references? This book is for you. If you want to read about mysteries and crimes and the crime solvers, this book is for you. If you want an angsty love story, still the book for you. It touches on everything you didn't even know you wanted. It's awesome.
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on September 12, 2017
I got this book with other books and it was one of the last 4 to read in my list I never really bothered to open it till now ..and noticed it had pages that had the print low and missing some lines, am not sure who to contact regarding this problem, so am juts writing this down here in hopes I get a response about it soon
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