Publishing Info: June 19, 2001 by HarperCollins
Genres: Adult, Mythology
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 23, 2015
Related Posts: Fortunately, the Milk, Stardust, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neverwhere
Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, AMERICAN GODS takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You'll be surprised by what and who it finds there...
For February, I read AMERICAN GODS with my lovelies from On the Same Page! Alyssa is a huuuge Neil Gaiman fan and thanks to her suggestions I’ve read a couple of his books and really enjoyed them all so far so I was really anxious to pick up AMERICAN GODS which also incorporated something that I’m extremely interested in — mythology.
The book follows Shadow, a now ex-con with nothing left to lose so he joins the mysterious Mr. Wednesday on a quest to gather up some other, er… mysterious persons (*whispers* gods) for an epic and un-elaborated upon showdown. Right away, the book grabbed me and felt a little dark — a good kind of dark (wait, is there a bad kind?) — and I was sooo interested in what was about to go down! The only problem was… I quickly hit a lull in the action. I knew right away that this was going to be a book I would really have to pay attention to and that’s not a bad thing. It was more that I knew Neil Gaiman’s story telling would be very intricate, along with several subtle clues to pick up along the way (I missed a lot but Alyssa is a mythology pro and she clued me in) so it wasn’t something I could rush through. I tried to take my time but there was a section in the beginning that I was really struggling to get through. Thankfully it passed and I was once again totally hooked!
Mythology is actually kind of hit-or-miss for me as far as adaptations and retellings. I always have high hopes and I guess I never really know what to expect. Usually the more I know about the myths and the gods, the better the adaptation goes for me but I think the great part about AMERICAN GODS was that it wasn’t just a retelling of the story of X god in a modern world. These were the real and true gods, brought over to America by their believers and then abandoned, not sure what to do in this new world with no followers anymore. It felt like a totally original idea and an original story, not just adapting one that has already been told many times before. Instead of knowing what happens and seeing how the tale was interwoven into the plot, I was following a completely new plot and had no idea what would happen next! I was always excited to see what new god or character would pop, how they fit into the plot, and what could possibly happen as a result of their presence there. Not to mention how Shadow might fit into everything and why he was chosen for this mission in the first place (literally one of my first thoughts when I started reading).
Naturally, Neil Gaiman let everything unfold at the perfect time. Everyone slipped perfectly into place, their roles and motives carefully revealed when the time was right. The magic never felt unnatural or hokey and he had me believing that these gods could really be walking among us, the mortals and non-believers of this world none the wiser.
It’s hard to say too much about the book because as I said before, it’s one best explored as you read it, allowing the story to present itself naturally. If you feel a bit of struggle, push past it because this book was definitely worth it! I’m really glad I read with Alyssa and Amy because I might not have read it on my own (one of the things I always enjoy about the books we read for On the Same Page)!
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Shadow // Character Obsessions: Laura, assisting Wednesday, going with the flow.
Shadow was a really interesting character. I really liked his laid-back demeanor despite his ex-con status. He was really fun to follow around in this book and I love what we get to know of him!
Kept Me Hooked On: A modern take on mythology. I really loved this modern take on mythology without the book being a retelling. I really got to see the stories and histories in a different way and it also made the gods feel much more real.
Left Me Wanting More: Smoothness. Really, the book was smooth. I love Neil Gaiman’s writing — BUT there was that one lull that really took a big hunk of enjoyable time away from the book for me. I still loved the rest but I wish I hadn’t fallen into the doldrums there!
This was SUCH an interesting story! I really enjoyed how creative this book was on so many levels and I just really am finding Neil Gaiman’s writing wholly captivating.
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(Click the cover to see my review!)