Tag Archives: American Gods

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

American Gods – Neil GaimanTitle: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Publishing Info: June 19, 2001 by HarperCollins
Source: Gift
Genres: Adult, Mythology
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 23, 2015
Related Posts: Fortunately, the Milk, Stardust, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neverwhere, InterWorld (InterWorld #1)

    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...

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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)!

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“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!

American Gods GR updates

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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!

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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!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

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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BOOKS LIKE AMERICAN GODS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE RAVEN BOYS     THE NIGHT CIRCUS

On the Same Page: American Gods by Neil Gaiman | A Reading Roadtrip

American Gods road tripFor February, On the Same Page (Alyssa, Amy, and myself) read AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman as our book of choice. Neil Gaiman is a favorite author of Alyssa’s (like ALL-TIME FAVORITE) so I always feel a teensy bit of pressure when a favorite is involved! AMERICAN GODS was a new read for all of us, though, and it seemed like we all really enjoyed it! There were so many different aspects to the book that really struck my fancy and although travel really isn’t the main focus of the book, it definitely still plays a very large role and you could even argue that without travel, the book wouldn’t have had a purpose (since without travel, these gods would have never had a spot in America). Shadow and his boss Wednesday travel all over the continental United States running errands and completing tasks to fulfill Wednesday’s final end goal (which remains a mystery throughout most of the book) so besides the variety in characters, there’s also a large variety in setting.

I thought about including the mythology aspect in my post but as much as I enjoyed seeing all of the gods that appeared in the book, mythology really isn’t my forte. I always enjoy reading about it but I don’t have the strong well of knowledge to expand upon it in a post so I chose quite a different route (no pun intended) with a “reading road trip”, so to speak. A great portion of the book takes place in the Midwest (and there are many places not in the Midwest as well, but that seems to be where AMERICAN GODS spends most of its time) and that happens to be something I know a lot about! So come on a road trip with me, Shadow, and the gang with a brief collection of highlights from AMERICAN GODS!

First up, a complete map of all of the spots Shadow visited throughout AMERICAN GODS! I remembered quite a bit of these but this American Gods fansite (frowl.org) was a BIG help in filling in the blanks to what I had missed so I didn’t have to go back through the WHOLE book to track them all down! As you can see, this book really does span the whole country, for the most part!

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Now let’s pretend I’m sending you off on an AMERICAN GODS road trip! YAY! You can’t visit ALL of the places on the map (I mean… you CAN but they’re so all over the place)… But you literally can’t visit every place from the book because some don’t really exist. For those, I’ve taken small liberties to get you as close to the real thing as possible! I’m also a planner so the order of YOUR road trip will not necessarily be the order in which the characters took the trip. They weren’t exactly practical about how they went where… So let’s pretend you live in the center of the United States…

** MINOR spoilers for AMERICAN GODS below! I’m including facts from the book and nothing will give away major plot points but if you want to be kept in the dark, skip to the pretty picture of the map! **

  • Lebanon, KS: Ahh, the center of the United States. Really! Here is where some characters met for errr… a very important thing (also a major spoiler so I cannot say) but it’s the center and therefore, neutral ground.
  • Cherryvale, KS: The birthplace of actress Louise Brooks. Passing through due to Shadow’s interest!
  • Cairo, IL: Home of Mr. Ibis and Mr. Jacquel, where Shadow stayed for a while
  • Rock City, Lookout Mountain, GA: An important gathering place for the book!
  • “Eagle Point, IN”: A fictional place… For the sake of the road trip, I’m just estimating it’s around Indianapolis to make it easier!
  • St. Louis, MO: Where Shadow’s plane is redirected on his way home to Eagle Point and where the story more or less begins.
  • El Paso, IL: Shadow drops off Sam Black Crow
  • Chicago, IL: Shadow meets the Zorya
  • Madison, WI: Madison is mostly just an in-between point where they catch a plane to head west… but you’ll probably need to pass through to get to…
  • The House on the Rock, Spring Green, WI: A very interesting scene involving the World’s Largest Carousel and Shadow meets a few new important characters
  • “Lakeside, WI”: Lakeside is also a fictional place, but it’s extremely close to the UP so I estimated pretty far north and east in WI (PS — go camping there. It’s gorgeous!)
  • Minneapolis, MN: Another stop, where a… car switch happens. It doesn’t sound interesting but what’s going on at the time is!
  • Sioux Falls, SD: Some more pivotal moments in South Dakota and we get some more insight on what the gods can do
  • Lebanon, KS: Back to Lebanon, KS — the center of the United States. You’re home!

AGRT

 So what do you think? Would you take the road trip? Have you been to any of the locations from AMERICAN GODS before?

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Thanks again for checking out this month’s feature for On the Same Page! We had a blast reading AMERICAN GODS and sharing our thoughts with you! And don’t forget to check out Amy & Alyssa’s posts today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places) // Amy (Tripping Over Books)