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American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – August 16, 2016
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“Original, engrossing, and endlessly inventive.” (George R. R. Martin)
American Gods is sexy, thrilling, dark, funny and poetic." (Teller, of Penn & Teller)
"American Gods is like a fast run downhill through a maze -- both exhilarating and twisted." (Jane Lindskold, author of Changer and)
From the Back Cover
Updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text
A modern masterpiece from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction Neil Gaiman
First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Washington Post) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is the story of Shadow—released from prison just days after his wife and best friend are killed in an accident—who gets recruited to be bodyguard, driver, and errand boy for the enigmatic trickster Mr. Wednesday. So begins Shadow’s dark and strange road trip, one that introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. For beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and Shadow is standing squarely in its path.
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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.
That said, here goes: it an old idea that you've seen before in a couple of Star Trek episodes and who knows elsewhere: the Greek gods or some other gods (in this case, pretty much all gods, in any pantheon that ever existed) are (or were) real! They derive their power from being worshiped, and only die if they are forgotten.
The twist: believers bring their gods with them when they emigrate. We have old world gods in the new world. New gods don't get along with the old ones, and a conflict ensues.
We follow one individual, Shadow, who isn't himself a god, but who might be employed by one, on journeys to various odd locations in the U.S. which are focal points of power. Not knowing much lore, he nevertheless has to do his best to fulfill his employer's missions, feeling his way through potential dangers and political intrigue.