American Gods

Thoughts   American Gods by Neil Gaiman, HarperTorch 2002/orig pub’d 2001, 588 pages.

MOTIVATION for READING:    Maree suggested on Twitter that we have a July read-along for this book.   I’ve been meaning to read some of Gaiman’s adult fiction since I discovered that he is one of the true “author-rock-stars” – I had no idea such a concept existed (John Green is another;  perhaps Jane Austen is in that category, too?)    Challenge:  Personal Year of Reading Deliberately.   Disclosure:   I purchased this paperback from the closest big box bookstore, Borders.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:     A man just getting out of prison finds that the world he hopes to return to has been altered by tragedy.   He quickly and unavoidably meets some extremely interesting characters and ends up getting involved with their troubles since he has nothing else to do.

WHAT’s GOOD/NOT so good:    I was reading this during my 4th of July Holiday trip and when my cousin asked if it was good, I answered, “It’s so gripping!”    She took the book to read the blurbs and sure enough – the  USA Today quote on the cover says, “Powerful and gripping.”   I concur.

I found Shadow, the protagonist, charming and rooted for him from the very beginning to the climatic end.    His wife, however, I never trusted, which is OK.  Actually, this only added to my respect for Gaiman and his story-telling character-developing skills.   And yes, I guessed a few plot points and chuckled at a few contrived coincidences;  I thought it all worked beautifully.   VERY entertaining morality tale.


“Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through their eyes.  And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.” p.323

RATING:   Four pie slices and an extra big bite.


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20 thoughts on “American Gods

  1. I really enjoyed American Gods, one of the best I’ve read by Gaiman, whom I adore. There is just so much to think about it within the framework of the story.

    1. It was such fun being carried along with all that happens. I think if you look at my best-reads of each year, I tend to pick more cerebral non-happening kinds of books which was why this was so refreshing. And yet, he sprinkles so much great STUFF and philosophy into the narrative.
      So, which Gaiman should I tackle next? Neverwhere or Anansi Boys?

    1. Yes! I had to ask the husband if he knew where the towns in Kansas were and if we’d been to them. He hates to visit roadside markers but I always find them fascinating.

  2. This was the first Gaiman book I ever read, and I was hooked! Both Neverwhere and Anansi Boys are great, but I particularly love Anansi. It’s really fun and deals a lot with mythology and fables.

  3. I found American Gods unbelievably gripping the first time I read it, and I’ve never liked it as much on rereads. It’s been a while, though, so I should probably give it another go-round.

    Anansi Boys and Neverwhere are both very good – why not read Anansi Boys next, as it is at least set in the same world? And then Neverwhere after that. Neverwhere is really my favorite of his.

    1. Your re-re-reading habits never fail to astound me. I do want to get to Neverwhere but agree that Anansi Boys would be a great next choice.

  4. American Gods is my husband’s favorite Gaiman book. he keeps trying to get me to read it too but so far i’ve resisted. who knows, i might just give in now! 🙂

    1. Hmmm, what made me say that? That despite the forces that seem to guide your steps, you DO have choices? I’m thinking of Shadow and the final scenes. I’ll email you.

      1. If a morality tale can loosely be described as a story of where the protagonist meets good and evil and is persuaded to choose the ‘good’ life, I think we can apply it.

        Great question! Thanks for challenging me. I welcome your rebuttal.

  5. I think whether or not you like this book seems to be rooted in whether or not you can connect with Shadow. You found him charming, but my dad and I (who coincidentally read this at the same time) both found him completely personality-less and didn’t care about him at all. Neither of us ended up liking the book.

    1. Absolutely. I can see how he may have come across as lacking in personality but all I could feel was a deep quiet fear of his future and his place in it. Once he got involved with the gods, he had nothing left to lose and thus was able to find (or glad to be given) his role in that new-to-him world.

  6. My luck with Neil Gaiman has been hit or miss, but I’d like to read this one. I gave up on Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Neverwhere, and almost gave up on Good Omens, but I loved Coraline, and I keep trying Gaiman based on that one book.

  7. Pingback: End of Year Thoughts on 2010 Reading « Care's Online Book Club

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