Overview (No Spoilers): Growing up I was very lucky to have a group of friends that enjoyed reading as much as I did. My friends significantly influenced my reading topics during my formative years from our romance novel phase to obsessing over Merlin and King Arthur. The phase that lasted throughout late middle school and has ever a soft spot in my heart was mythology. We read everything we could get our hands on regarding Greek mythology and eventually broadened into Norse mythology. With laying the foundation regarding my fond background regarding the aforementioned subject, Luke and I were looking for a new TV show to binge when he recommended we try American Gods due to the glowing reviews it had received. While I’d known it was a book by Gaiman, I’d never picked up this novel despite my friend Kari’s glowing reviews even though she never steers me wrong with regard to books. While Luke was less than impressed with the TV show, I was hooked after two episodes, especially as the mythological premise was slowly unveiled. Needless to say, halfway through the first episode I was logging into my local library and reserved a copy of American Gods. After binge watching the show, I eagerly anticipated my hold at the library being called, curious to see how Gaiman originally set up this highly touted literary world. Instantly being drawn into the audio version of American Gods, I could not stop listening to Shadow’s unexpected cross country adventures. In the forward we learn that Gaiman traversed the same route as our protagonist, whether it was in northern Minnesota or Ruby Falls, which served to add an element of depth to the resulting descriptions as though we were viewing these locations directly through the author’s eyes. As a Michigander, I appreciated Yoopers getting a shout out, as well as their custom fare of pasties. Also, Ruby Falls drew forth fond nostalgia of road trips with my family. Gaiman describes how for hundreds of miles before the falls, billboards can be found advertising this natural wonder. I remember this billboards as a kid, which worked to peak my brothers and my interest, ultimately resulting in us convincing my parents to stop by this tourist trap. With regard to the novel’s content, American Gods was truly unique, capturing my fascination and curiosity regarding this world in which Gods follow their believers into new lands, which brings new perspective to the ‘melting pot’ description of America. This novel also emphasized the role of modern Gods, such as Media and Technology, who both draw on the attention of the masses on whole. Expounding upon that same thread, I couldn’t help but ponder what Gods might exist in the field of science within Gaiman’s literary world. As a whole, American Gods easily claims a place among my favorite books of all time. With the plot unfolds in a seemingly straightforward manner, Gaiman delightfully sprinkles breadcrumbs along Shadow’s route, foreshadowing the twists to come. Gaiman hinted in the forward that he would like to revisit this realm in the near future to find out what Shadow has been up to since we left him in American Gods. Until we are treated to a new novel, the show will have to suffice as we watch this tale come to life. Deviating slightly from its original source, the show is blessed with exquisite casting, causing the characters jump right out of the pages, additionally benefiting from the development and flushing out minor characters who grow with in their new roles, such as the feisty lovable leprechaun, Sweeney. Overall, American Gods branches out into so many genres that it would easily capture the imagination of a wide array of readers.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- What is the God situation like in other countries?
- The Hall of Forgotten Gods was so fascinating to ponder upon. It is interesting to think about the sheer quantity of cultures that came before us and their beliefs that are no longer relevant.
- I wonder why Gaiman chose to focus upon the Norse Gods and Egyptian Gods. I kept expecting the Greek Gods to show up, e.g., Zeus, Aphrodite, Ares, Athena. Perhaps the next novel will touch on them?
- Will Shadow find love again?
- Does Shadow have powers of his own or did they come from Wednesday?
- What will happen to Lakeside now that their God was killed and they were no longer having human sacrifices?
- How did Wednesday find Shadow? He was running into Gods like crazy once Wednesday did find him. Was he always running into Gods or was this something new once Wednesday recognized him?
- Will Wednesday stay a ghost or will he return?