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American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – August 16, 2016
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was not disappointed or led astray with my husbands high praise of this book.
As a lover of mythology my whole life, this book was right up my alley and then some.
I loved the characters. I was totally snowed by the plot.
This, for me, was one of those books I felt intense sadness when I reached the final page.
I loved the storytelling vibe of the writing.
Great read. Can't wait for the show and supposedly there's a book two in the works? Can't wait!
Gods is a difficult book to describe, and an even more difficult book to categorize because it simply does not fit into one genre (as Gaiman himself admits, again in the Introduction). Genres certainly serve a purpose, but in literature, we probably want a little variety, hm? And Gods satisfies that want quite well. It is a tiny bit Horror. There's a hearty dash of Fantasy. It has elements of Sci-Fi. And yet all of these poke their heads into what is essentially a roadtrip novel across America, with an initial premise that sounds like it has nothing to do with anything supernatural.
It is primarily the story of Shadow, a largely apathetic and unconcerned middle-aged man whom, when we meet him, is about to be released from prison. He is there for murder, which he admits to though the details of the crime are never expanded upon. Upon being released, Shadow rushes for home to be rejoined with his beloved wife Laura. For sake of not spoiling anything, let's just say that plan doesn't work out... and what happens instead isn't pretty.
Shadow is approached by a playful and cryptic old man called Wednesday (though it is clearly from an early time that this is not the man's true name) who offers Shadow an equally cryptic job. Newly aimless, Shadow accepts, and it is from there that the two embark on the strangest journey across America you will likely encounter.
Between the main narrative are Coming to America segments. These feature a wide array of individuals from all times of history in one-shot stories recounting, in one form or another, their journey to America. These were some of the richest moments in the whole book, as they display Gaiman's appreciation for history and sheer creativity. American Gods could have stood on its own without these short supplements, but their inclusion certainly enhances the whole experience.
An odd delight of American Gods is that it is not a novel that tells all of its secrets at once (which is generally a good practice in Fiction anyway). In fact, there is a long period where one can hardly be sure exactly what is happening or why the characters are doing what they are doing. While the narrative is enjoyable all the way through, the story is loose, bizarre, and spans many locations where strange practices are held. It feels in some ways more like a series of snapshots than a strictly straightforward, linear plot. It is not until roughly three-quarters of the way through that Gaiman pulls the threads together in a very satisfying close to the book.
I'll be honest in saying there were times when I had trouble sticking with it, precisely for the above-mentioned reason of things feeling a bit disconnected and seemingly included without a clear point. Understand, it does all have a point, it just takes a good while for those reasons to be revealed. There is a chance you'll feel a little lost, mayhap even slightly bored, for certain portions of this book, but know that it is all worth the effort in the end. To put it simply, American Gods is weird, and it is wonderful, and to read it is to set yourself up for a real treat.
I read this book in anticipation of the adaptation on Stars (April 30, 2017). I was immediately drawn in by the mysterious characters, at once recognisably human, and simultaneously, dimly divine. The hero's journey/road trip, multi layered plot (several layers deep), and exquisite!y detailed descriptions of time and place kept me enthralled.
Good books always create in me a desire to learn more. After reading this book straight through, now I want to read it again, this time taking notes for further reading and research...but maybe I'll wait a bit, let Shadow's tale linger in my head and heart.
This book is rewarding on so many levels. Read it