American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Book Review)

It would appear that it’s been quite a while since I last wrote a review, so here’s a repost of an old review from a couple of years ago that was originally on a previous incarnation of the blog.

A dear friend of mine purchased Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for me a number of Christmases ago, and with the knowledge that the novel is currently being developed into a TV series, due to air at some point during 2017 [Note: I originally wrote this review back in January 2017], I figured now is the time to finally get round to reading American Gods. [Another quick note: Since this series was on Amazon Prime, I sadly haven’t had the opportunity to watch it].

Before I begin my review I’d like to note that the version I am reading is “the author’s preferred text”:

“This version of American Gods is about twelve thousand words longer than the one that won all the awards, and it’s the version of which I’m the most proud.” – Neil Gaiman, excerpt taken from the introduction.

After spending three years in prison, 32 year old Shadow Moon is released back into the world. However it’s no longer the friendly, welcoming place that he had expected it to be, filled with love, friendship and brand new beginnings. Two days before his release, Shadow’s wife Laura and best friend Robbie, die in a mysterious car accident, under rather ‘adulterous’ circumstances. With no wife, no job and no ties awaiting him back in Indiana, Shadow soon finds himself in the employment of mysterious stranger Mr Wednesday.

Wednesday is a trickster, a rogue and a former god who Shadow encounters on a trip home to bury his late wife. Seduced into a new life as a bodyguard and errand boy for this rather enigmatic and temperamental ex-god, Shadow travels side-by-side with him across America, meeting some rather obscure characters whose fates are intertwined with that of his own. Meanwhile, the old gods and the new gods are preparing for war.

American Gods is a rather difficult novel to review, not necessarily falling into any specific category, instead it transcends all genres, from science fiction, to fantasy, to horror and also mythology. The author’s preferred text is over 600 pages long, and while it takes a number of days to read, the narrative is not boring, or stretched out too far, or even filled with unnecessary detail. Instead it flows along as easily as a paper boat on a little rainwater steam. However, the vast amounts of information contained within its pages may take some time to process properly, resulting in a fascinating, if rather slow read.

I’d rather not focus here on the intricate details of the story, as I do not wish to give anything away or detract from the reader’s pleasure, for those who wish to discover for themselves this bizarre journey before its adaptation adorns our TV screens. However, at 4 out of 5 stars, I can definitely say that it’s well worth a read.

Favourite Quote:

‘If Hell is other people, then Purgatory is airports.” – Shadow’s inner thought. (p20)

Final Note: The author’s preferred copy of American Gods, also contains additional bonus material including an interview with the author, and an American Gods novella ‘The Monarch of the Glen’.

See also:

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Author: Sarah

I review science fiction, fantasy and horror novels.

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